AS I sat and listened to our new Home Secretary make a statement on the latest terrorist attacks, it was crystal clear that we had just got very lucky.

If it was not for the curiosity of an ambulance driver and the extraordinary bravery of some individuals who were in the right place at the right time, we would be now convulsed by the reaction to mass murder on our streets.

I doubt that would have been a very positive process. There would have been calls for new laws and toughening of old ones. The police would have been encouraged to call for new powers. Attitudes would have hardened in the highly sensitive debates on immigration and multiculturalism. In that quite understandable atmosphere of fear and disgust, there is a risk that in our desire to "do something" we may just hand our enemies the propaganda victory they seek. One of the most distinctive features of our democracy is the emphasis we place on civil liberty and the belief that someone is innocent until they are proven guilty. Every step we take in the opposite direction is a signal that we are prepared to change our values in response to violence.

As we consider our luck, we cannot bank on it lasting. Our security forces are struggling to cope with a rising tide of radicalism that is finding a home even in our most respected professions. We will have more bad days and we must use this time to prepare our long-term response. In Hillingdon, we can I think, be proud of our community relations because a number of very dedicated people work hard to make sure that the channels of communication work. Across Britain, we have to apply ourselves with the same dedication to the task of isolating the extremists within the three million strong Muslim community. In doing this we must work with and avoid alienating the moderates in those communities who continue to see Islam as a religion rather than a fundamentalist movement. The stakes could not be higher if we want to avoid our children growing up in a Britain where personal freedoms are not respected.