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Closing down Britain is a high price to pay for being secure

Quite a lot has already been written about the British government’s demented suggestion that security of public transport will be improved by installing airport-style security checks at 250 “strategic” railway stations (places, presumably, such as Paddington, St Pancras, Victoria and Liverpool Street in London). Bloody marvellous. A hint of the chaos this will cause, the enormous economic damage and ruination of the railway industry that will ensue, struck me this morning as I took a Tube ride from Covent Garden to Victoria on my way to work from an early meeting in the City. Victoria’s Tube station was closed due to “overcrowding on the platform”, according to a public announcement. The crush of crowds was terrible. Now, just work it out, gentle reader. Imagine in say, two or three years hence, if Gordon Brown’s daft idea takes root: massive queues at London railway stations in the evening rush-hour as people struggle to get home, huge groups of people milling around stations waiting to be passed through security. A perfect target for a terrorist, you might might think.

You might indeed think that. I bet a few of the more intelligent police and security service folk realise that. But not Gordon Brown. I am no longer convinced that Brown is particularly bright, in fact. We have long been assailed with this image of a brooding, obsessive Scot with his books and his clever ideas. Cleverness? I think his intellect should be regarded like one of those flakier tech stocks in the late 1990s – greatly over-priced and due for a rapid fall. I already sense that this process is under way. Let the selling continue.

16 comments to Closing down Britain is a high price to pay for being secure

  • Leave him alone, he’s suffering from a dreadful case of paranoia!

  • Kevyn Bodman

    Henry Porter, who has been writing good pieces on issues of liberty for some time, had an article partly dealing with this issue on The Guardian website, ‘Comment Is Free’ section yesterday.It generated a lot of comments.
    But unity of action by those opposed to these restrictions still needs to be created.
    I’m not sure that the government’s suggestion is demented, although of course I think it’s both absurd and dangerous.
    It is so obvious that having extra ‘security’ at stations would simply create targets of people waiting to pass through the security checks that I cannot believe that Gordon Brown and his colleagues and advisers haven’t thought of that.If they haven’t thiught of it then I’d agree they are either mad or stupid. There’s another reason behind the government’s proposal.

    So why has this idea been put forward?
    Is it because, if there is another terrorist attack, they want to be able to say that they had done all they could?
    If so I would support the idea of one of the commenters on The Guardian yesterday which I’ll paraphrase – we should say to the government, ‘You’ve done enough. We know you can’t elominate the threat, we’ll take our chances now but leave us alone to go about our lives without this monitoring, control and interference.’
    I am happy to take my chances; I don’t know how many others are.On this site I expect most would agree with me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a significant number of ordinary people are now close to saying ‘Enough.’

    In my opinion they *have* done enough for our physical security; I don’t think they’ve done enough to confront the ideology of Islamist terrorists but that’s not the issue here.

    There is another, more sinister, possibility. The government know these ‘security’ proposals won’t make us safer but they welcome the opportunity to get the population more accustomed to being monitored, questioned and controlled.We won’t be able to prove it if that is their motivation.
    But we do know that ID cards are not just about proving your identity because there’d be no need for the database that goes with the card for ID protection by itself to be effected.

    The Daily Mail led with the ’53 questions’ a few days ago. Those questions amount to getting permission to travel.
    I have lived in a country where exit visas are required to leave the country and where wriiten permission to travel was needed to travel internally.
    Please be advised, do *not* underestimate the value to your lifestyle of being able to get on a plane, train, bus, boat or car and go wherever you want on a whim.
    Fight these restrictive measures and the 53 questions.

    I do not believe that liberty and security are competing goals; but even if they were I would say give me liberty.
    I am truly saddened at what has been happening and is happening now in the area of civil liberties in Britain, and my sadness is made worse because I can’t think of the most effective way of protecting our liberties.
    Joining No2ID is one thing, but the issue has moved on from there now to these ‘security’ measures.
    Could we find a couple of hundred people to stand for election on a platform ‘You’ve done enough, now leave us alone.’? (Written with more thought than I can give it today because some things would have to be undone too.) Should we rely on the Conservatives? Can we trust them? What can the Liberal Democrats do?
    Is there room for mass civil disobedience?
    Is there any economic action that can be taken?
    How broad a church do you want on this issue? Who is OK to have as an ally and who isn’t?
    I’m sorry that I haven’t yet worked out the answers to these.
    The only slight encouragement I have, but please give me more if you can, is that perhaps this is an idea whose time has come. Henry Porter, Simon Jenkins are in the mainstream press and there must be others there too.
    There are plenty of bloggers as well. Wouldn’t it be great if we had some courageous politicians as well?

    Kevyn Bodman

  • I think in truth there is a lump of wealth fallacy in play here too. The sorts of people who impose these sorts of laws simply do not understand how they are economically destructive. Although the price paid for their existence is actually large, it isn’t even a consideration.

  • Cynic

    But don’t you realise that this is all being done for our own good? Don’t you realise that your complaints give aid and comfort to the enemy? Why, you treasonous dogs ought to be sent to Guantanamo! It is the duty of all right-thinking patriots to be completely for a New Labour run police state, and wholly against such dreadful notions as free speech, habeas corpus, and all other things that give aid and comfort to our foes!

  • Nick M

    Nick puts on his “freedom scarf” and thinks…

    So, Victoria, Euston and King’s Cross are locked down. Guess what? I live in Cheshire and right near me is a completely unmanned commuter station for Manchester and Stockport. The trains are sometimes so crowded I can’t even get a seat… Now, if I were to self-immolate on one of those surely there would be 72 virgins in it for me and Allah would be merciful and be thinking more along the lines of Britney Spears in “Hit me baby one more time” than Anne Widicombe.

    Is your journey really necessary? No, course it isn’t, I actively enjoy being patronised by wankers. So why is it necessary? I’m going to B&Q. Planning on buying fertilizer? Well, yes, oddly enough. Next stop Gitmo and the lovely garden I’m paid to look after is left untended.

    This is not the theatre of the absurd, it’s the five act opera of the absurd with choc-ices at half-time. And the fat lady doesn’t just sing, when she hits the high note, windows break 4 blocks away.

    I shall take Mr Brown seriously on terrorism when he actually uses the word “Islamic” in the context. His current tendancy is to use the word “extremist” which could mean, well, anything. It could even mean me because I extremely dislike Mr Brown and his “Age of Change”.

    I am asking a politico to call a spade a spade and I appreciate this is like pissing on the Great Fire of Chicago.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Kevyn, great comments. I think there is an element of arse-covering here with the government in that if, god forbid, there is another atrocity, it can say “We did what we could” sort of line. But I think the sort of restrictions being proposed would kill public transport in a major way (how ironic that it would be a Labour government that did that); it would drive people back to the roads, it would render major cities, principally London, utterly useless economically since millions of people commute to the city every day.

    The idea of having to answer 53 questions before leaving this nation on a holiday/business trip is madness; I occasionally get accosted by people asking if I could answer questions and unless they can give me good reason, I politely tell them to sod off.

  • Novus

    I am no longer convinced that Brown is particularly bright, in fact. We have long been assailed with this image of a brooding, obsessive Scot with his books and his clever ideas. Cleverness? I think his intellect should be regarded like one of those flakier tech stocks in the late 1990s – greatly over-priced and due for a rapid fall.

    Brown’s intellect, like his speeches, seems to me very much rooted in an excess of figures and statistics, in a grinding, relentless assimilation – and regurgitation – of facts in order to flatter the very ordinary mind beneath. Whatever stunning intellectual prowess he was rumoured to possess, whatever great ability his cheerleaders trailed in the run-up to his assumption of power, events since have clearly shown him to be tactically hamfisted and strategically and ideologically inflexible, neither hallmarks of a great mind at work.

  • Nick M

    What I note about our Dear Leader is this… He eternally makes speaches about how much more Labour has spent on the NHS or education or whatever and never, ever, says what that spending has produced. The extra spending is of itself his justification.

    Now let’s look at something a bit different. I fix computers for folks. At that ta-da! moment when I wipe the sweat from my brow and declare the job done I say I’ve fixed up x,y and z and you’ll now be able to do a,b, c… Obviously this comes at a price but the amount of time, effort and money I spend on a gremlin isn’t the point is it? It certainly isn’t a selling point.

    I would have some respect for Mr Brown if, instead of telling us how much of my money he’d spent on the NHS, he told me that this had resulted in, say, a 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer that is the equal to that of the USA. Because that’s it isn’t it? You get sick and you want the best treatment possible. It’s not about how much the tax-payer was milked for it, it’s about how good that treatment is. Do we really want universal healthcare that is universally crap?

  • Julian Taylor

    Now would be a good time to buy shares in security camera equipment and surveillance gear retailers presumably.

  • Brian

    I think the extra security around railway stations is an excellent idea. With a bit of luck the ‘extremist’ community will then find other, easier targets.

    Such as, for instance, offices of the Inland Revenue. Or Labour MPs.

    Not that I would approve of such a thing. Oh no.

  • The Commissar of Nationalities,or Comrade “Bottler” Brown as he is known by the adoring masses, is simply trying to prevent the rush for the exits when he sells us out to the the Peoples Democratic Republic of Euritania.

    But imagine the wonders of Britain’s mainline stations on Monday mornings as the legions of dyspeptic,hungover commuters queue, mewling and puking,to answer some jobsworths questions.That will get someone impaled on a rolled umbrella and beaten to death with a briefcase.

    Meanwhile mind how you go,and don’t look Brazillian.

  • Paul Marks

    Good comments by many people.


    Mr Brown often cites stats that are actually wrong – but I take your point.

    He is like Francis Bacon – claiming that lots of “data” will produce a conclusion (a conclusion to what? – ah there is the problem).

    Of couse Mr Bacon’s inductivism was phony – he started from a theory (humans controlled by all wise experts as in his “New Atlantis”), but as he just assumed his theory was correct (to him it was not a theory at all) he never subjected to logical reasoning.

    So he was neither an inductivist or a deductivist – he was just a statist who like playing about. He had no real interest in experimental science for its own sake (as his wish to ban observations seeking to provide evidence on whether or not the Earth went round the Sun shows) – he just wanted practical benefits (hence shoving ice into the chicken, in the hope he could preserve its flesh better).

    Mr Brown is much the same (although it is too much to hope for that he will die from a chill got by messing about with dead chickens and ice).

    He just ASSUMES that all wise rulers should control everything – all his “facts” and (often false) numbers are not really collected to test anything, and he certainly does not subject his assumptions to logical reasoning either.

    Still “get on to terrorism Paul”.

    If there is an attack – clear away the bodies and get on with things.

    “Savage”, “cold hearted”, “you beast”……..

    It was done in the 19th century whenever there was a Fenian attack on a railway station. Still the Victorians are often accused of…….

    But if we are really going to “not let the terrorists win” not let them “destroy our way of life” and so on, should we really mess up the railway system (and so on) in the hope that this will prevent terrorism (an absurd hope anyway).

    Of course it is fine for government ministers – they get special cars.

  • Nick M

    On fire as ever. Obviously we clear the dead and we get on. When I was sixteen I was in a pub in Newcastle and spotted an abandoned briefcase. It was during a period of heightened alert and I called the bartender’s attention to it. He held it up to his ear, declared it safe because it wasn’t “ticking” and the rest of us went back to our beer which was a relief because I was chatting this girl up and at that point I was within an ace of… Well, something, anyway. I struck out but that was purely due to my callow technique and had nothing to do with the IRA.

  • Nick M

    On Brown’s super-sized brain…

    I seem to recall he once gave a speech on economic policy and used the term “neo-classical endogenous growth theory”. None of the journos had heard of the term and some went away thinking Mr Brown must be a very clever man indeed. The reason none of them had heard the term is that a Brownite spin doctor had invented it the previous night because it sounded “cool”.

  • “neo-classical endogenous growth theory” As someone said at the time the phrase wasn’t Gordon Brown’s but was “All Ball’s”.

  • Paul Marks

    The someone was Hezza.

    Which shows that someone can be an arse but still, sometimes, produce a good and truthful line.