Alan Johnson's equation of recent "anti-terrorist" measures with the socially necessary tasks of the capitalist state (Solidarity 3/49), such as taking responsibility for abused children or incarcerating those who pose a threat to the public, is fundamentally wrong.
No genuine socialist would disagree that homicidal terrorists should be "detected, caught, jailed, or killed" - but the point is that the government already does these things! The controversial measures that Blair and Blunkett have introduced are primarily intended to limit civil liberties, not to fight terrorism; "anti-terrorism" provides a convenient opportunity and justification.
And, no, we do not trust this government to reduce our civil liberties!
Although we might argue about whether this or that measure was justified, it is perfectly possible that socialists would advocate a workers' government limiting certain liberties as part of the fight against counter-revolutionary terrorism. But not this bourgeois government, free from real democratic control and with an authoritarian agenda!
The fact that, contrary to some liberal and pseudo-left idiots, the threat from the jihadists is all too real cannot change this basic political attitude. In the 1930s, the threat to the German workers from fascism was far greater - but that did not stop the Trotskyists from opposing state repression of the fascists which would "strengthen the class enemy".
I can't help but feel that, instead of thinking about these issues rationally, Alan has adopted a position of supporting any measure which the government labels "anti-terrorist". He should remember the difference between our anti-terrorism and theirs!
Sacha Ismail, Clapham