Many of you will now be aware of an Islamist-inspired terrorist attack in the South London District of Streatham.
This is an area I know very well. It has no ‘significant targets’, and is a long way from any iconic tourist sites, or ‘important buildings’.
Yet it was the destination of choice for a young British Muslim who presumably wanted to ‘Die by Police’, in a rather pathetic attempt at immortalising himself through his religion and his actions.
Fortunately, both his victims are alive, and not seriously injured. That doesn’t mean that the scars and psychological affects of the incident will not continue to affect their lives though.
When the BBC News ‘calmed down’, it was soon reported that plainclothes police officers from the Anti-Terrorist Branch had shot and killed this man within two minutes of the first victim being stabbed. Video evidence clearly shows at least three such officers, one on a motorcycle, ‘dealing’ with the perpetrator at the scene.
More reports today revealed his name, and the fact that he had just been released from prison after serving less than half his sentence for ‘Terrorism Offences’. No doubt his history was serious enough that he was being followed by specialist officers, with close surveillance of his movements. Looking away from the brave actions of those police officers who stepped forward to shoot this man dead, despite him apparently wearing an explosive ‘suicide vest’, we have to ask why he was released in the first place.
He was released under the usual terms of British Law. Having served a large part of his sentence, he was ‘eligible’ for parole.
Sad to say, this law should no longer apply to convicted terrorist subjects who have been imprisoned for plotting such crimes. We saw what happened at London Bridge, and now in Streatham High Road. If those people want to put themselves above the law, purely in the name of their religion, then that law needs to change, where it relates to them.
They should have to serve ALL of their sentence, and not be released until we can be sure they no longer pose a threat to innocent people going about their daily business.
There was a time, long ago, when Socialist ideals were very similar to my own beliefs. Then the Labour Party started to call themselves Socialists, and before too long, there was the Socialist Workers’ Party to contend with too. Others have jumped onto the socialist bandwagon, notably the Nazis in the1930’s. Adding ‘National’ and ‘Socialist’ together, they tried to combine the ideals of one, with the cachet of the other, keeping a foot in both camps, and to avoid being called Fascists, which of course, is what they actually were.
In Europe, since the 1950’s, we have seen ‘Democratic Socialists’, as well as ‘Social Democrats’. It seems that adding something else to the name, avoids comparison with the extreme left associations from the past. Even the Soviet Union called itself a ‘Socialist Republic’, when it was obviously a hard-line Communist state. In more modern times, we have seen Socialism become watered down, to something it never was, or had intended to become. It now represents a generalised Liberal attitude, and the original ideas of complete state ownership of capital and industry, have been surrendered. There also seems to be an ongoing trend, where a good Socialist is expected to support worthy causes in any country in the world, whatever the reason, and to back any workers’ action anywhere, against anything. They become involved in matters as diverse as Abortion and the Fur Trade, and are for and against regimes and countries in turn, dependent on swings in the political climate.
At home, our few remaining Socialists are good at turning up for any demonstration, whether it be about unemployment, fox-hunting, or student fees. They will sell their newspapers, distribute their banners and placards, and be proudly seen as agitators. The Labour Party has a (claimed) membership in excess of 60,000, but how many of them are Socialists, or even want to be considered to be? They are very different to the SWP, yet both groups claim Socialism as their creed. This is a Socialism that doesn’t understand itself. It has run off with the idea that anything it supports deserves that support. This can be Travellers, the Unemployed, benefit recipients, asylum seekers, and anyone with any grievance against the Police, however unjustified. The things that they support are good, and everything that they oppose is bad. They work from the laughable premise that everyone is equal politically, and that everyone has a right to be heard, however inane their thoughts and ideas.
This unfortunately presumes equal intelligence, something that just does not exist, however desirable it might be to fantasise about it. It is considered to be political sacrilege to state the obvious, that there are many, probably the majority, who have little interest in, or understanding of the political process. They just cannot be trusted to participate in important issues, like running a country, deciding foreign policy, or dealing with International Capitalism. Unpopular as it may be to say so, there are leaders and thinkers, and others who do not think, and must be led. The mainstream Socialist policies seem to centre around a kind of maternal state, where millions do not work, and are spoon fed by those that do. They would be left trying to run a modern country, along the lines of a gigantic nursery, actively supporting those who do not contribute anything to the society that they expect to keep them in comfort. They would tolerate those living here, who actually despised the country that they lived in, and actively worked to kill and injure its citizens.
The so-called Socialists of New Labour even thought it correct to indulge in foreign wars, supporting right-wing countries in their quest for worldwide influence and power. Those who remain firmly on the Left, would seek to help regimes whose avowed intention is to introduce fundamentalist religious doctrines, and remove the rights of women, and other religious beliefs that are not the same as their own. Once established, they vow to wage a religious war on those same countries that helped them achieve power. Friends one day, enemies the next, and that is all OK with the ‘New left’. They revile the Police, yet I am sure would ring them if they had their mobile phone stolen, their house burgled, or their wife was raped. How do they expect society to function, without a Police Force, Border Controls, and a reasonable influence over the activities of its citizens? That would be Anarchy. So, are the Socialists really Anarchists? I doubt that. Do they actually want to live a life like we saw in the street riots in 2011, on a daily basis? This would be the consequence of the multitude of freedoms that they fervently advocate.
No doubt they would disagree. They would trust in the inherent goodness of people, sure in the knowledge that this sort of thing would not happen. The trouble is, most people are not good. They are selfish, aggressive, and avaricious. We may not like to admit it, but this must all be controlled. Things cannot be left to chance, in the Libertarian dream that all will be well, and a barter system will operate; and of course, nobody will steal, assault, or kill.
So, I am not a Socialist, because it just doesn’t work. Life is hard, and you have to be hard to live it.
I have re-posted this from my other blog, due to its political nature. Apologies to those of you who have been sent it twice. Pete.
I have been around for a while. Long enough to have seen policing go through various incarnations. Police have been trusted, then unpopular, then hated, then reviled, and gone full circle to being popular once again. I have had, and still do have, relatives in the job, and my last period of employment prior to retiring, was as a civilian employee of the Metropolitan Police. To a fair degree, I speak from both contact, and experience.
Almost everything we understood about the Police has changed. We used to think we could rely on them for immediate assistance, if something terrible was to befall us. This is no longer guaranteed. Police stations are closing in their hundreds, and others have adopted the same opening hours as local gift shops. Officers on the street, always a reassuring presence, are being replaced by Community Support Officers. Well-intentioned they might be, but they do not have the same powers, the level of acceptance, or enjoy the traditional respect afforded to the old ‘Beat Bobby’.
In most areas, the Police have become another arm of bureaucracy. With civilian overseers, one hand tied behind their back by PACE, CCTV, and a system where everything is weighted in favour of the offender. Answering to Council Committees, Review Boards, and Government Investigative Panels, they have had the ability to do the job almost surgically removed. Funding cuts have been targeted at the wrong end of policing too. Patrols, immediate response, and attendance at burglaries, deceptions, and even less serious robberies, have all been shelved. At the same time, money is spent on Civilian Crime Commissioners, new management structures, helicopters, armed units, and increased computerisation. Self-reporting via the Internet, crime numbers given for insurance claim forms, and non-emergency advice numbers, all represent the new style of policing emerging in the UK. Try explaining this to an old pensioner, duped out of their life savings by a doorstep conman, or a young single mum, who has lost everything when her handbag was snatched.
It may well be that the crimes are just not possible to solve. Bringing someone to the Courts for the offence, does not return the valuables, or allay the fears at night. That is hardly the point. People need to see someone, to feel that they matter, and that someone in authority is concerned about them. They hope to stop these things happening to others, and justifiably believe that they have a right to some kind of investigation, however basic. It is worth noting that they also contribute to policing by paying Council Tax, so if there is to be no resolution for the crimes they have suffered as victims, then why should they be expected to carry on paying?
The sad fact is, that the Police are alienating the very sections of society that traditionally supported them, at the times when they were least popular. Corrupt detectives, bribed by gangsters, heavy-handed officers, attacking pickets or rioters, even cases of tragic deaths in custody, none of this mattered to most people, the so-called ‘silent majority’. They accepted these things as the necessary evils of policing, and decided that there were acceptable levels of collateral damage to be expected, to ensure reliable protection. It is those same people who are now marginalised, let down and betrayed by the system they upheld. They now install extra security locks, home CCTV systems, and keep baseball bats next to their beds. It has dawned on them, that the heyday of ‘good’ policing is over, and they have to take back responsibility for their own safety.
This is not the fault of individual officers, far from it. Given the opportunity, I suspect that they would like nothing more than the chance to chase down a robber, grab a burglar in the act, or take on a group of anti-social vandals. Unfortunately, they are joining a Police Service very different from the one they saw on TV as youngsters. The CPS decide not to prosecute offenders caught red-handed, even admitting their crimes, as they decide that the process is too expensive, or too consuming of Police resources. Forget the victim, forget the efforts of the Officers, they will just have to accept it, no repercussions allowed. Political correctness, and the rights of the criminal have become the creed of today’s Justice System. Light sentences, because of overcrowded prisons, Community Service, and Electronic Tagging, have replaced many custodial punishments, often for very serious crimes. This has left the criminal with a distinct advantage, for the first time that I can ever recall.
Given all this, is it any wonder that Police Officers are now rejecting the system, and using it to their own ends? Recent cases of officers claiming huge amounts for minor injuries incurred during working hours, have been widely publicised. There is a lot more happening though. Serving officers are selling information to the newspapers, and other media. This is not just for the money, as the sums involved bear no relation to the salaries and pensions of some of the senior officers involved. No, this is also driven by frustration, bitterness, and anger. In other cases, officers from ethnic minorities have joined various forces, only to almost immediately claim racial prejudice against them, and sue for huge sums. The very motives for joining the job are changing, as it is becoming perceived as a ‘cash cow’. To avoid more bad publicity, and fearing the playing of the so-called ‘race card’, these police authorities pay huge sums, to make the problem go away. Even those officers not considering legal action, in one form or another, are bombarded by images of a society consumed by litigation, usually successful. Their plans become a fail safe; ‘if X happens, I can always sue’, is a seed planted in their minds.
Other police officers are looking to get away from traditional policing on the streets. Why get into fights, chases, and riot situations, when they can transfer to the increasing number of office jobs, free of the rigours of shift work? They no longer need to worry about wrongful arrest, deaths in custody, being sued by criminals, or dealing with the gripes of victims. They can sit at a computer all day, pumping out intelligence briefings, crime figures, overtime cost calculations, and advising staff of Court appearances. They might even be assigned to a Crime Reduction Unit, where they can inform homeowners how not to call the Police anymore. Despite numerous reports and Inquiries, telling police forces to get officers back on the street, away from administration roles, and to better interact with the public, it is just not happening. At any given time, there are probably less than 40% of police officers employed, actually out on the streets policing. There may well be a need for the roles behind the scenes, but that should be secondary, and not at the cost of public disgust in the system.
Dixon of Dock Green will be turning in his grave.
We have a long tradition of civil unrest and rioting in this country. Even as far back as 1381, the Peasants knew when enough was enough, and tried to do something about it. In the late 1700’s, there were the Gordon Riots, opposing Catholics, and laws passed to increase their freedoms in Britain. Tens of thousands were involved in these riots, and hundreds were killed. Prisoners were freed, and a harassed government even believed it was a foreign plot to unseat the monarchy. At the start of the nineteenth century, Luddite rioters destroyed machinery in factories, fearing that it would take away the livelihood they had by use of their traditional skills. Their rioting and acts of vandalism were so widespread, that more troops were needed to quell their activities, than were being used to fight Napoleon at the time. A few years later, in Manchester, a meeting of over 60,000 demonstrators protesting about unemployment, lack of representation, and the Corn Laws, deteriorated into an all out battle after cavalry attacked the crowd, resulting in many deaths, and hundreds of injuries. This became known as the Peterloo Massacre, after the district where it occurred.
Moving on many years, to 1936, and there is the Battle of Cable Street. The British Union of Fascists,or ‘Blackshirts’, led by Oswald Mosley, intended to march through the Jewish areas of London, to highlight their anti-Semitic stance, and to deliberately provoke a response. Protected by a police cordon, they began their march, only to be stopped at Cable Street, by a huge number of opposition marchers, including Communist ‘Red Shirts’, and members of Jewish groups, as well as outraged Londoners, who felt this pro-German right wing group should not be allowed to march in this area. There were also Anarchists, and Labour Party groups there, all hoping to stop Mosley. The anti-fascist demonstrators numbered a staggering 100,000, and the ensuing fighting left almost 200 injured. Such was the shock felt by the authorities, that they passed The Public Order Act, requiring anyone wanting to demonstrate to receive permission first. This is still in force in a similar form to this day.
By 1958, the target of rioters was no longer the Jewish Community. Instead they chose to attack the recently-arrived West Indian immigrants, and they picked an area where many had settled, Notting Hill, in West London. Groups of white youths, stirred up by right-wing groups such as the White Defence League, began a series of attacks on black people during the late Summer. Over many nights, groups of rioters clashed with Police. There were many arrests, and numerous injuries. In 1990, large scale rioting was to be seen again in Central London, in the form of the Poll Tax Riots. The unpopular tax, levied by an equally unpopular Tory government, gave rise to protests all over the UK, culminating in a protest march in the spring of that year. Over 200,000 arrived, one of the biggest protest marches ever known, and demonstrators clashed with Police during and after the march; including many Anarchists, and Leftist groups, who it was said, had come specifically to cause civil unrest. Lasting almost twelve hours, the running battles were heavily televised, though sometimes cleverly edited too. Mounted Police made many charges into the crowds, and some protestors remain adamant that the police, not them, were responsible for the fighting. There were hundreds of arrests, and many injuries, as is common with this type of incident.
By the time we reach the Summer of 2011, things are very different. The Police are more wary of heavy handed intervention. There is widespread use of CCTV, and officers are being held responsible for their actions. There is less political unrest anyway, as the new young generation is more concerned with Facebook, fashionable clothes, and computer games. Demonstrations have to be approved well in advance, and the Police have introduced the tactic of herding the protestors into large metal pens. They also detain them after the events, to make it difficult for them to get home, or to get any refreshments, or to be able to use a toilet. Both ‘sides’ are by now less willing to clash, and there are few issues that are galvanising the people into action anyway.
Then, the Police shot and killed a small-time criminal in North London, claiming that he was holding a gun. This would not usually warrant more than a short news report, for a man with a criminal record, killed during the course of some suspicious activity. Very soon, rioters began to appear on the streets of North London; predominantly young black males, though later joined by other groups of all ages and races. Police cars were attacked, and the Police soon decided that they would use a new tactic. They gave up the streets to the rioting crowds, and just deployed a cordon around the affected area. At first, it was presumed that they were rioting about the killing of the young man earlier, and indeed, some had been protesting about that very thing, though not these individuals. It was soon obvious that they were not protesting about anything. There was no cause, no sense of outrage, justifiable or otherwise. It was simply an opportunity for looting. With the Police preoccupied and overwhelmed, these modern-day rioters took to some unauthorised shopping. They raided large warehouses, and even small shops. What they could not steal, they burned. Television cameras showed them struggling under the weight of huge plasma screens, or running out of clothing shops, carrying bundles of trendy sports wear. Aided by instant messaging, texting, Facebook, and mobile phones, the crowds soon grew, and the word was spread. This crossed the river, and parts of South London were affected too. It seemed as if the whole city would be consumed by looting and arson. Fortunately, the goods ran out. All the best stuff was stolen, and they went home, bored with the effort, and tired from unfamiliar exertion.
After these incidents, a lot of questions were asked about Policing in the capital. There were hundreds of widely publicised arrests, and the sentences handed down were harsh, bearing no relation to the cost of the goods, or damage done. Many of the looters were ‘named and shamed’ by the press. As usual, many turned out to be from well-off families, some claimed that they had just gone along for fun, and others claimed that the theft of a plasma TV was ‘political’, as they could not afford to buy one. The stupidity of many of them has become famous too. One woman re-entered her own place of employment, a shop being looted, to help herself to some goods. It was on CCTV, and she was still wearing the uniform supplied for her job. Others used their own cars to collect heavy items that they had looted, apparently forgetting that their own registration numbers would be easily read by cameras. Some people stole items that were so heavy, they had to drop them, smashing them on the pavement. Many tried to sell items on Ebay, advertising them as stolen during the riots, to add some kind of perceived value.
I was left mourning the passing of ordinary decent rioters. We had lost our traditional values of revolt and street protest. Before that Summer of 2011, whatever you thought about the cause, or the motives behind them, we at least had people rioting on our streets for a reason.
It is just commerce now, like everything else. Acquisition by other means.