AS the international crisis has developed I have tried to be accessible to constituents who are worried and want to question me about my views or the government's stance.

I have met with Harlow Muslims, I have held two public meetings, met with the Quakers and had numerous one-to-one discussions.

Everyone is worried and concerned and wants to be sure that what we are doing is right.

I am straight with people and make clear that I have doubts and fears.

But I'm genuinely not persuaded that there is a credible alternative way of thwarting further attacks than what we are doing.

Some say we should stop the bombing to let aid get through. Yet more aid is getting through than before September 11, and the real obstacle to aid to Afghanistan is the Taliban regime.

Other argue that the Americans have created the conditions in which Bin Laden thrives. And whilst nothing justifies what happened on September 11, it is true that America's past actions are far from blameless.

But kneejerk anti-Americanism just is not good enough as a response to this awful situation. Because what drives Bin Laden and Al-quaida is a hatred of our values.

Sexual equality, religious tolerance and art and recreation as a means to personal self-fulfilment. According to Bin Laden we are all just as guilty as George Bush.

So I am convinced we must act militarily to diminish terrorist capability in Afghanistan, and remove the Taliban. There is no easy, peaceful way to secure our safety.

Yet, if our actions are not followed by a massive increase in aid, a real push for peace in the Middle East, and a huge effort to foster real international dialogue and understanding, we will be providing the breeding ground for future Bin Ladens.