This man is an utter disgrace.
I'm sorry to have to quote the Daily Mail, but it's the only source I can find for comments he made on Radio 4's Great Lives programe:
Asked by presenter Matthew Parris whether there were any circumstances in which terrorism was justified, Mr Miliband said: ‘Yes, there are circumstances in which it is justifiable, and yes, there are circumstances in which it is effective.’
So there you have it. A Government Minister says that terrorism is 'justifiable' (in certain circumstances, of course - that's a nice long spoon with which to sup with the Devil). Well, the lunatics have really taken over the asylum.
Let me say that I am a fairly non-violent person. I've never been in a proper fight, and I have always believed that talking your way through (or out of) things is the best way. Yet even I can accept that there are circumstances when violence is justified. To protect oneself and one's loved ones is a pretty clear example. To defend the weak against the bully. To liberate the oppressed, even. But there is one key factor linking all of these: the violence must be against the perpetrator of the wrong. It is paying them back in their own coin - they started it, but we will finish it, sort of thing. Nothing wrong with that.
If I punch someone who is punching me, or my wife, or my children, that's not wrong. It's not even morally ambiguous - it's the right thing to do. If you hit someone to prevent them harming someone smaller or weaker (as a colleague of mine once did with a rough 16-year-old who had raised his arm to hit a dinner lady - he decked him with one punch, and not even the toughest kid in the school thought it was unjustified), then that is almost a moral imperative. I have no problems with countries going to war to defend themselves - the war against Nazi Germany was absolutely right.
But none of that is terrorism. Terrorism is where you kill the innocent to try to persuade your enemy to see your point of view. The violence is against a third party, with the reasoning that if your enemy has any compassion, he will give in to you to stop you doing any more harm, or alternatively become demoralised by the slaughter and give up the fight. The victims have no defence against you, because nothing they can do can prevent you from killing them. They cannot surrender, because it is not their fight. They may not even be aware that there is a fight. They are bystanders whose lives and limbs are merely counters on the table in a ghastly game that they cannot understand. People who believe that this is a legitimate way of getting the results you want are terrorists. And Miliband thinks it's OK. In the right circumstances.
The IRA placed bombs in pubs and were terrorists. ETA blow up trains and are terrorists. The Red Army Faction shot people and committed arson and were terrorists. All of these people, it could be argued - it could be argued - were fighting against great injustice. And all of these people, had they attacked the people who were the source of the injustice, could have claimed justification. But the IRA killed students in pubs. ETA kill mums with babies. The Red Army Faction killed bodyguards and chauffeurs. Big men, huh?
If you ever had a good and justified cause for violence against an oppressor, you taint, poison and negate it as soon as you attack the innocent. In fact, killing an innocent person to try to persuade someone else to do what you want is the nearest I can come to a definition of true evil. It values human life at zero, and subsumes everything, even babies in another country, to your own goals. It makes my flesh crawl to think that anyone could even consider it.
He added: ‘The importance for me is that the South African example proved something remarkable: the apartheid regime looked like a regime that would last forever, and it was blown down. It is hard to argue that, on its own, a political struggle would have delivered. The striking at the heart of a regime’s claim on a monopoly of power, which the ANC’s armed wing represented, was very significant.’When you re-phrase 'striking at the heart of a regime's claim on power' as 'blowing up people who had nothing to do with it', it starts to look a little less romantic.
But he's wrong. You never make your cause right by killing innocent people. I'll stick my neck out here and say that, if you are oppressed and the only way out is to kill the innocent, then the honorable thing would be to accept your oppression. Personally, I would rather be poor and subjugated but with clean hands, than free and prosperous and know that people had died, people without any connection to my cause, so that I could be so.
There was a time, not so long ago, when politicians would be careful to avoid ever giving the impression that they could sympathise with terrorists. Even when you supported their cause, you would be at great pains to stress that in no way did you condone their methods. But now, it's acceptable just to hint that, well, if something gets the right result (and yes, the dismantling of apartheid was the right result) that somehow it was all OK.
It wasn't, it isn't, and it never will be.
Miliband, you are an arse.