Philobiblon: A plea for proportion

Friday, July 08, 2005

A plea for proportion

Before everyone runs around proclaiming that the world's going to end, that we really have to have ID cards now, and abolish the civil liberties built up over centuries, can I just step back and point out the actual scale of yesterday's London bombings?

The death toll is going to end up in the region of 50 - about the size of your medium-sized rail crash, with perhaps three or four times that many people suffering long-term serious injuries, physical or mental. Now that's horrible for them and their families, but it is about the equivalent of one week's death toll on the roads.

Then there is the disruption in central London - "chaos on the streets" as the media proclaims. Well actually, the problems were in the same order of magnitude as is achieved quite regularly by a good semi-tropical storm, working in cahoots with the inadequate Victorian drains.

Perhaps we should look at this from the other end of the telescope, and realize that despite the endless scare stores about "dirty" bombs, chemical weapons, even nuclear bombs, this was all al-Qa'ida could achieve.

There will be endless post mortems, and indeed there are good questions to ask. I'll admit the advantage of hindsight, but wasn't London, on the day of the G8 summit, when Bin Laden's enemies were making at least a reasonable stab at portraying themselves as environmentally aware humanitarians, in a notably similar position to the Spanish just before their election?

Bin Laden, or at least those working on his model, have patterns that can, and should be checked and predicted, yet we're told London was on the lowest level of alert for years.

Accounts have it that 1,500 Met police are being rushed home from Gleneagles. Shouldn't they have been here in the first place, rather than tearing around Scottish fields trying to stop men in clown suits and women in tie-dye getting within shouting distance of George Bush?

1 Comments:

Anonymous Chameleon said...

I am with you all the way on this. When the attacks were announced in the plenary chamber around 11.30, the news spread like wildfire through the colleague relay. One male friend and co-worker glumly assessed his prospects of maiing it back home to Edinburgh via Gatwick, prefacing his remarks thus: "We can kiss civil liberties goodbye".
Similar sentiments expressed here:
http://blunkettisanarse.blogspot.com/

7/09/2005 08:04:00 am  

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