and anti-terrorism muddles
JUNE 03 2006
At a time when the government and the civil service have serious ongoing tasks to manage and new ones to initiate, the media and the public are obsessed with whether or not the Deputy PM uses Dorneywood croquet lawn on an office away-day. The country is becoming politically dysfunctional. Personally I do not want the country to have a Deputy PM who does not have time to relax occasionally in peaceful surroundings. Croquet is just what I would recommend to anyone who needs to wind down between chairing cabinet meetings. Dorneywood is a National Trust property given to the nation for the purpose of providing such surroundings. It saves no public money for him to not use it. John Prescott has given it up for the same reason Charles Clarke left the Home Office - to stop having government time wasted by the moronic British media and the moronic British public the said media plays like a fiddle. Prescott has been a good deputy PM. He has done a lot of good work. He has also headed up some mistakes for which he is far from being the sole architect. The media gurus wouldn't know whether he has been effective or not. They haven't a clue.

The PM gave an interesting speech in Washington last week. The media, which pretends to be leading the campaign to save the planet from all sorts of follies and catastrophes, ignored the content and decide to report only on the likely impact of his words as a lame-duck head of government. We seem to have some idea that there are saviours waiting in the wings. It took Stephen Fry, neither a politician or a scientist, to talk some sense on the BBC "This Week" programme recently and explain to the sophisticated talking heads Neil, Portillo et al that it is the public (i.e. all of them in the studio just for starters) who are the contraceptive on the prick of progress. They didn't understand a word he said.Oh well, that's show business.

To take some examples - (not ones Fry actually suggested):
To sort out the handling of water, electricity and energy generation and consumption in an environmentally way for the future would need an immediate start on some serious planning. This would be immediately frustrated by thousands of people who would object on many different grounds, some theoretical, some personal, some reasonable, some less so, some selfish, some mistaken. [See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6510957.stm for example]The theory we could lose all the current nuclear and polluting generating capacity and replace it in time with renewables is not a runner. It is not impossible, just not possible given the UK public and our liberal democracy. So presumably what efforts and systems are put in place will be implemented ignoring the public - rather like email, the Internet and mobile phones, the first two of which had to struggle against the world's media who were intent on suppressing it's use by the general public for 25 years. [as usual in one of my rapidly writen paragraphs this reads in a confusing manner - nuclear power will be essential in the medium term of course]

To take another example: the dysfunctionality of the Home Office has been due to conflicting demands of the public, stirred up by the media, in human rights, safety, employment, freedom of travel, the siting of detention centres, the taxpayer's burden etc. etc. etc.and in some cases the demands and behaviour of employees who, while not classed here as 'the public', are drawn from the public as are all officials. The proverbial 'cans of worms' can develop only too easily within any organisation tasked with dealing with the coalface of the human struggle for survival. To expect a Home Secretary handed several cans of worms (none of which can be thrown away but have to be contained and decontaminated while at the same time they are being added to exponentially), to reveal their existence to parliament and the public with a plan to deal with them, is ridiculous. The idea that every person whose identity and status should be refused a national insurance number and/or reported to IND for investigation and prosecution is something only the mathematically challenged could imagine as possible unless it had been a policy established 40 years ago, along with a proper identity system. It's an

To take another example: we keep blaming the oil companies like BP, Shell and Exxon for making profits and even for the carbon dioxide we emit from the engines that burn the fuel. We should certainly blame them when their tankers run aground and pollute We should blame them when they do not repair the damage and compensate those damaged. We should also expect them to conduct every sort of research into new forms of energy that are environmentally sustainable and that is where their profits should be spent. We should also expect them to research and develop technical means of even reducing the levels of greenhouse gases, and developing new types of engine to use oil more efficiently. Technical solutions are the only answer to our global warming problem because the public of the developed world are either unwilling or incapable of acting individually to reduce their carbon imprint sufficiently, and the growth of the developing world without a technological re-think will increase the effect more than the developed world could reduce it. The best the developed world could do is to hold the position until there is a radical technical fix.

There are serious indications of dysfunctionallity in some other areas of the relationship between the public, the media and the government. We were told after a raid by the security services on a house in Forest Gate, London, that the operation was based on serious, credible intelligence which came on top of a long period of surveillance of the property and persons involved. Today we are told that the intelligence that triggered the assault on the property was sudden in its arrival, demanding an instant response, with no time to check its real credibility. These two statements are contradictory to a certain extent, though it may be possible to reconcile them. More worrying is the impression given that the operatives charged with the execution of the task cannot be trusted to give an accurate account of what took place. A weapon is discharged, a man is injured, and immediately another arm of the state has to be inserted into the operation to establish what occured. Since the possibility of such an operation had been on the cards for some time, how is possible that the security services are employing people who are incapable of reliably reporting their actions? If it all took place in the pitch dark so nobody could tell, there might be a case for forensic examination. As it is we are not led to believe that was the case, and contradictory reports reach the media in such a way as to give more credibility to the arrested men than the police.

Is it really necessary to give such an impression of muddle if there is none? So much of the time our media lead us to believe there is incompetence when there is little or none. Here we have a case where even if there is no incompetence, the media could be excused for thinking there was. It is as if circumstances have finally succeeded in traumatising the forces of law and order to the extent that they are losing confidence in their own integrity. If that is so, it is an indication that misinformation as a policy may be being used by the terrorists, with just this effect as its aim. Just because paranoia sets it, it doesn't mean they are not out to get us. There is no reason why the most advanced methods will not be used.

In Iraq, we can see a classic example of a society set against itself by the deliberate use of terror tactics and misinformation to sow distrust. The US Military policy of self-protection as a priority has completely destroyed any thoughts among Iraqis of risking their lives to support the coalition. All the al-Qaida insurgents have to do then is set Iraqi against Iraqi to destroy the peace and any chance of an environment where law and order can flourish and encourage those Iraqis whose talents are so badly needed to return.

JUNE 6th

"I support the police 101 percent," Blair said in an interview broadcast on the Internet.

"I think if they (the police) have a reasonable piece of intelligence that they think they have to investigate and take action on, they should," he said.

Fair enough, and if they find out that their source of intelligence is bad and their method of assessing its validity is useless, then this operation will have been worthwhile for revealing just that. If on the other hand the intelligence was good, it will also have been justified. However, if the former is the case, what sort of people are running the show, and have they been infiltrated or are they just out of touch, or was this part of a brilliant sting to cause a severe lack of confidence? As long as we get a result, its good. If it ends up with a cover-up on the grounds of further security, that will not go down well.

JUNE 8th
It looks even more likely that this is a cockup deliberately engineered to discredit the police and discredit muslims who support the security services. Since this must have been a possibility right in the front of the thinking of those analysing the intelligence, it is surprising that the police went about it in exactly the way they did. It could have been done differently. However, this is one way of clarifying certain facts so there is a plus side to it that will emerge eventually. The ability of those so inclined to send the security services on wild goose chases is almost limitless since genuine terrorist plans can be developed and then either implemented or dumped on innocent muslims whose identity may well have been used in the preparation without their knowledge.
ADDENDUM at 9pm: Both suspects have been released without charge. It seems clear that neither MI5 or the police emerge well out of this They have been taken to the cleaners.

JUNE 13th 2006
The more we hear on Forest Gate, the worse it gets. Admittedly we are only getting one side of the story, but MI5 and the Police are looking like complete rubbish. It appears that they knew absolutely nothing about the people they raided and must have been set up from start to finish. They seem to have no idea how to handle the wider situation or the detailed operations, or what sort of people they should use on such a job, or how many. Any al Qaida terrorists in Britain must be thinking its plan sailing to bring the country to its knees, not by destroying property or individuals but by exposing our security services as bunch of unthinking thugs commanded by people of very little brain. There is no doubt that organised crime in Britain comprises a range of individuals who are as tough and terrifying as you are likely to find, and to deal with them the police force has to recruit some individuals who can meet them on level terms. But suicide bombers are a different kettle of fish as are certain kinds of religiously motivated activists. They need to be met with a genuinely intelligent defence, and even that will sometimes fail - a fact we must just accept. What we can do without is seriously counterproductive spasms like the one it seems we have just witnessed.I look forward to hearing I am wrong, and that there actually were some mistakes that were not made.

MARCH 30th 2007
Reading my last paragragh of last year, above, I admit I underestimated the difficulty of getting meaningful intelligence in these cases. Our security services are up against considerable difficulties, as there is a very great and increasing reluctance of a growing proportion of  the public to get involved with the police or other branches of the law. The reasons for this range from the personal to the political and the philosophical and even simple FEAR of involvement. The combined effect is, in certain areas, overwhelming.