Sunday, July 24, 2005

No reason to suspect Brazilian'

At times since I started this blog, I have worried whether my fears were getting out of proportion. This morning, I think not. We are not building a police state in Britain. We have built one.

Plain-clothes policemen shot a young Brazilian electrician for no better reason, it seems, that in the British "Summer", when hardy Anglo-Saxons wear light clothing, he was cold enough to wear a heavy jacket. Police thought it might conceal a bomb and - adopting the tactics of the Israeli security forces - shot him in the head before he could detonate the imagined device. This is not the England I grew up in.

Where is our thespian Prime Minister now? The man spends almost two thousand pounds a year of our money on cosmetics. Why isn't his fake-tanned, Max-Factored, lying face on our TV screens now - his lip doing its trademark tremble as he expresses his "sincere sorrow" at this horror? Why isn't his namesake - the head of the Metropolitan Police - tendering his resignation?

Why, for that matter, isn't the PM tendering his own? I do not believe that "shoot to kill" on the Tube has been adopted as a policy without his approval. So casually does the government take this that the killer is not even suspended from duty and his boss the Home Secretary is off on his holidays. According to BBC radio news this morning, "nobody was available" from Scotland Yard or the Home Office to be interviewed today. That's whaat an innocent young life is worth in Blair's Britain.

It seems that hundreds of plain-clothes officers are mingling with passengers on the Tube, ready to do this to any dark-skinned individual with a rucksack or a heavy coat. With tactics like this, you are probably more likely to be killed by a British policeman on London's public transport than by a terrorist. Any of us suddenly confronted by a man in jeans with a gun might have run, whether he was shouting "police" or not.

London is, or was, was a tourist city. Anyone whose English is not up to snuff, had better stay away now. Judging by reports, you will not have a lot of time to consider what is being shouted at you by the armed man in jeans before he tops you. I have spent 14 years living in cities where I have to speak a foreign language. Believe me, when stressed, it can be hard to comprehend even if you are normally quite fluent.

Because the victim was a foreign citizen, we can at least hope for an explanation. The Metropolitan Police's tactics are "classified" and we British citizens are not entitled to know what behaviours on our part might put us at risk. I hope that, when the Brazilian ambassador is told what the tactics are, he will share them with us.

In the meantime, we had better treat every police officer with the same fawning, grovelling deference as if Britain were the old Soviet Union and he were in the KGB. Piss him off and all he needs is a half-cocked excuse to shoot you. That is the psychology that turned the KGB into a roaming gang of thieves and sexual predators in Stalin's Moscow. I am sure there are few, if any, policemen that bad in the force today. But imagine what kind of sadists will be attracted by such powers.

Do you still feel like a free citizen of a great democracy this Sunday? Those who begin by burning books will end up burning people. This Government began by burning Magna Carta. God only knows where it will end.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | 'No reason to suspect Brazilian': "Jean Charles de Menezes, 27"


Anonymous said...

I share your concerns. I know that terrorism will change things in Britain and that our need to protect ourseleves will result in curbs on our liberty but I feel very uneasy about this latest incident. I had a nasty feeling about this as soon as I saw it on the news.

Tom Paine said...

The scariest thing is that most people seem to accept it. I have been asking myself how far the government could go in eliminating our liberties before the British public becomes upset. If five head shots into a defenceless, innocent man won't upset them, nothing will.

Blair's argument that the "freedom not to be killed" takes precedence over civil liberties seems rather ironic now.