Friday, 24 March 2017
My computer has been "down" for the past 48 hours so I have been unable to give immediate responses to the atrocities committed at Westminster.
On reflection I still find my feelings are a combination of sympathy, admiration and embarrassment.
Sympathy, obviously, for the relatives of those who have died, for those who must live with life-diminishing injuries, and those with minor injuries or who are traumatised by the shock of what they have witnessed.
Admiration for those, and especially PC Keith Palmer, who did their duty and ran towards the danger in order to help, rather than ran away.
But embarrassment and some disquiet at much of the political and media reaction.
Most disconcerting was the prime-minister's statement, in which. she claimed that the attack was on "the world's oldest parliament."
Westminster is not the world's oldest parliament. For what it's worth, that honour is usually accorded to the Icelandic parliament, the Athling, which dates back to 930. Britain's parliament is usually thought to have its origins in Simon de Montfort's Parliament of 1265, or maybe the Model Parliament of 1295 - either way, some three hundred years behind the Icelandics. This may seem a small niggle, but there is far too much exaggeration of Britain's role in and contrition to the world, much of which seems to fuel the ardour of the Brexiteers
Then Mrs May went on to speak of how no attack would divert us from our devotion to democracy and the rule of law. That's a bit rich coming from a prime minister who refuses to give parliament a "meaningful vote" on the result of her Brexit negotiations, and did her level best to prevent the courts from ruling on whether or not parliament should have any say of triggering Article 50. (Her supportive press went so far as to claim that the judges of our Supreme Court were "enemies of the people.")
So there's a clear case of our government talking the talk rather than walking the walk.
I noticed how quickly the attack was attributed to Islam. This, said a policemen only hours after the incident, was their "working assumption." Given the delicacy of inter-faith and inter-racial relations at the moment, this was at the very least tactless. In these circumstances the police and media should wait until there is real evidence rather than mouthing populist knee-jerk assumptions.
I'm in no position to make an informed judgement, but do I wonder why the killer was shot dead? Surely, with trained marksmen, it should have been possible to wound him sufficiently to disable him rather than to kill him outright. Then not only could he have had a proper trial and received the justice which we hold so dear, but the authorities would be able to question him to discover his motivation and contacts. Instead they have to mount the massive and expensive investigations which appear to be necessary now that he is no longer available to speak for himself.
So far, happily, the calls for further surveillance powers for the government have been subdued, but I'm sure they will soon increase in volume. The fact that the killer was already known to both the police and the intelligence services, and yet they were not aware of his plans, shows the futility of collecting an indiscriminate mass of information. Those who wish preserve our liberties, which Mrs May says she is keen to do, and so limit, or even negate, the scope of the Snoopers' Charter, should contact:
It's perhaps inevitable that media coverage, like charity, begins at home, but is is disquieting that my newspaper devoted its first five-and-a-half pages to this atrocity, and the killing of "at least" 33 by a coalition air-strike on a Syrian school received just half of page 23.