Friday, September 01, 2006

The Collapse of Public Confidence...

...revealed by The London Bomb Plot

I disagreed with Michelle (my wife).

Her first reaction to the breaking news of the London Bomb Plot was "yeah, right!" or words to that effect. Regular readers will know how sceptical I am with regard to the "War on Terror". Nevertheless, this particular plot has had the smell of authenticity to me from day one. I am confident that a genuinely ambitious plot has been interdicted and that British Intelligence (probably with considerable assistance from the NSA and other arms of the Global Intelligence community) has scored a significant victory which will do much - as the details emerge - to restore their public image, and perhaps a slightly battered self confidence - after the debacles of the previous 12 months. I believe we will learn that, had the attack been successful, up to 3,000 more lives would have been added to the MIFT score card. Our lives, of course, count for anything up to 30 lesser (Arab, Muslim etc) lives each so it would have been quite a significant victory for them. Not quite “unimaginable” but pretty nasty all the same.

More significant, though, is that, on this occasion, my confidence that this has been a real threat puts me in the minority – at least among those who have ventured to comment, if not the wider, less involved, public.

The country has been told by its Rulers that we are under direct and imminent military threat – with a potential death toll, from a single co-ordinated attack, greater than the British civilian body count resulting from Germany’s supersonic V2 rockets at the tail end of the second world war.(2754 civilian deaths caused by 1115 V2 rockets in case you were curious)

This is not the first time we’ve been under real threat.

It is, however, the first time in history that specific detailed warnings of such threat have been so publicly and widely greeted by a chorus of raspberries from a sceptical and cynical public.

The polls don’t yet reveal that this is a majority reaction, but nevertheless, I regard it as a cause for limited celebration! As most revolutionary movements know, where the few activists lead, the passive majority will usually follow. This may be the moment that future historians will look back on as the clear signal that “the worm was about to turn”; the moment when the majority of subjects began to realise that they couldn’t and shouldn’t trust their rulers. ANY rulers. Ever

It’s only a pity that the worm appears to have picked this particular case on which to turn and a shame that the turning didn’t take place a couple of years ago, when it really would have been useful – but better late than never.

I think I actually shocked a few people last year with my private reaction the weekend after the death of Jean Charles De Menezes while the country was, understandably, obsessing over the disaster. I said we would come to be grateful for his timely sacrifice. It would, I said, ensure that our Police did not get too gung ho.

Consider what our worldview would be today if the man they shot on 22 July last year had in fact turned out to have been a suicide bomber with jacket primed to explode. Imagine how you and the rest of the country/world would have felt if it had become crystal clear and indisputable that the lives of 40 or so passengers had been saved by the heroic actions of the (so far) un-named police sergeant who blew his brains out on our behalf. (I’m willing to wager that we’d all know his name if it hadn’t been the wrong man – think on that)

In the period since then, they (our Rulers and their police) would have taken - and we would have let them - liberties with our Liberty. You can, for example, be damn sure they would have got their draconian 90 days detention. The PR disaster of Forest Gate would have been seen as a mild hiccup instead of the second calamity and, at the airports, we’d all no doubt be docilely queuing up and rolling over to let them search our cavities.

So, come August 10th 2006, “so what” if there had been a little “collateral damage” during the raids? Rather than asking pointed and pertinent questions, we’d all be praising the bravery of the British Bobby blazing away against the dark forces of national and international terrorism. In short, I fear, not without basis, that our authorities would, in the absence of such an unmitigated disaster as the execution of the wrong man, be behaving much more like their American cousins have always done with their “shoot first ask questions later” strategy.

No hypothesis is worth a dime unless it can make useful predictions about events which have not yet been observed. This hypothesis is eminently testable.

My formal prediction is that as the evidence emerges it will become clear that this threat was not far removed from what we’ve heard so far. As a result, the government will argue that all their counter-terror policies have been vindicated and they must be given even more powers to fight the war on terror.

If they are prepared to be that brazen on the back of one PR success, after a string of PR failures, that will, I maintain, validate my hypothesis. If it hadn’t been for the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes, the Police State of the United Kingdom would be even more closely coupled to the Police State of America.

Given this prognosis, our task is to ensure that they don’t get away with their attempt to drag us further into the Orwellian Nightmare. The signs are ominous. Only today, we’ve been listening to President Blair telling us that the State should be seriously considering intervention in the anti-social behaviour of infants BEFORE THEY’RE EVEN BORN! He has moved beyond satire: Not content with the “Nanny” State, he’s now itching to impose what? The Midwife State?


mscmike said...

Consider what our worldview would be today if the man they shot on 22 July last year had in fact turned out to have been a suicide bomber with jacket primed to explode.

I think it would have been a non-issue if they had been right. The old adage "one oops erases a thousand attaboys" would apply. Think on this - a police officer arrests a driver for DUI. Press release? No. But say the officer isn't in the right place at the right time. Instead, that driver causes significant harm to someone. That is a big, tragic, story, where the arrest is a non-issue because things went the way things were supposed to go.

Tragedies spur people into action much better than peace.

Harry Stottle said...

just a holding comment mscmike. I'm up to my eyeballs in "stuff" so although I'll probably reply to the 2 shorter comments you've left in the next 24 hours or so, your longer comment (on whether we can risk true democracy) deserves a fuller response and that might take me a few days. It might even prompt its own blog entry. Check back in a coupla days...