Thursday, 23 March 2017

Keep Calm and Carry On

As I write this late on Monday night, the horrific, brutal, sadistic but inane and pointless attack on London yesterday was only a few hours ago. The police have shot the man who perpetrated this and are currently looking into his motivations and connections. But it is still very early days. We should all assist them by not speculating about it and journalists should not probe into the man and hinder the police by publishing what they find about him. It will all come out soon enough.

It behoves us all not only to assist the police and security services by being vigilant, turning over whatever footage and information we have but also to praise them for a job well done thus far. The media will start asking questions and indeed are already doing so. But we all knew this day was coming and that Britain has had a lucky run now since the Woolwich murder of Lee Rigby and before that the atrocity of 7/7. The police and security services have foiled countless attempts at similar or worse attacks in just the last 4 years. Even if it turns out that the attacker was known to them it does not necessarily follow that they have failed. They are called upon to make judgement calls constantly and usually get them right as their record in recent years has amply demonstrated. Most of us when we make bad calls simply count the cost in financial terms or in lost time or maybe face the police deal in higher stakes.

Some are already questioning how the attacker managed to get onto the parliamentary estate. That is a travesty of the truth, which is that he barely did so and was shot almost immediately once he did. Some are questioning how the gate was policed and whether it should be kept locked at all times. This is nonsense too. It's an extraordinarily busy thoroughfare. It is opened and shut many times every hour. But even if it were shut each and every time that would just create new vulnerabilities. How soon would it have to be opened in advance when the PM's car is coming for instance? Should she be left waiting on the road while they open it? Presumably whoever planned this did so knowing that this was a vulnerable point to the security. But that is because it is a gate. Our parliament is already surrounded by barriers, armed police and airport style scanners. What else must we do? Close Parliament Square to traffic? Ban all marches and demonstrations just in case? Make pedestrians go through the square on the other side? At what point do we consider such restrictions would be too draconian, too limiting on our democracy?

The brave police officer who lost his life, PC Keith Palmer, did so after trying to stop the maniac only to be slashed at by a large knife, possibly a machete. But overall the police and emergency services response was quick, efficient and well organised. Parliament and its environs went into lock down, the area was quickly flooded with armed officers and the preparations and rehearsals for this event kicked in. It was impressive and it was reassuring. Now the Met, which has not always covered itself in glory in recent months, will have to investigate this crime and unravel whatever conspiracy led to it. But they performed admirably yesterday, only the usual smart asses are being critical. No doubt there will be lessons to be learnt and security will be improved or at least tweaked. But there is only so much that can be done as we have always known.

One final point, one of the reasons that terrorists are now resorting to these low tech attacks carried out by enraged madmen is thanks to the success of the police and security services at detecting the more sophisticated attacks that were once their hallmark. Lone wolf attackers driving vehicles at crowds are fantastically difficult to detect in advance and thus to stop and pretty difficult to apprehend without use of lethal force as we saw yesterday. But another reason that they have resorted to these kinds of attacks is because they have been alerted to the techniques used by security services by the leaks of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Wikileaks all of whom have blood on their hands as do the sanctimonious halfwits who encourage their treachery in our media.

It takes a callous maniac to drive a car along the pavement of one of the busiest roads in the capital and plough into people including school children. They have done nothing to provoke such hatred but then none of us have no matter what the jihadist cretins tell themselves. We live in an open, democratic and free society, one governed by rules, laws and by the very institution that was attacked yesterday. This blog believes wholeheartedly in the freedom of the press but those who abuse that freedom should look long and hard at themselves and at their stance vis a vis our security services. They should be held accountable for sure and that is what the press if there to do. But that freedom can be abused too, just as that maniac abused the freedoms of our open, free and tolerant society yesterday afternoon.

Still today we will all go back to work, parliament will resume, Government will govern and the police will diligently pursue whoever facilitated this attack. That is what our society does. It is why last night, though there was nervousness, the people of this country were out enjoying themselves and carrying on as normal. Just like the other countries around Europe that have been attacked in this manner or worse, we won't be beaten by cowards and bigots. But let's not help them either.

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