One Rant at a Time

Whatever heaves into view........better keep its head down.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Why Tony Blair is wasting police time

This article intrigued me. Two ladies in their sixties were arrested this past week for deliberately walking 15 feet past a sentry line at the US airbase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire. They did so to make a point about a new law that will treat anyone who gains access to a series of military sites in the UK as a potential terrorist.

Why were they arrested? Two silver-haired grannies hardly represent a terrorist threat (ah, I hear you say, but terrorists come in many shapes and guises). Fine, then. The article also mentions a few other cases which seem a little, shall we say, out of whack.

John Catt, who's 81, was arrested as he was walking to join an anti-war demonstration outside the Labour Party annual conference last year. He was stopped, searched and detained under section 44 of the Terrorism Act because he was carrying a placard and wearing a t-shirt with an anti-Blair slogan on it. Clearly a threat to national security.

Maya Evans was arrested as she stood on the Cenotaph -- the memorial to those who perished in the two world wars -- and read out a list of soldiers killed in Iraq. Her crime was to contravene the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act of 2005, under which it is illegal to make a demonstration within a kilometre of the Houses of Parliament. She was on her own, so it was clearly a serious and organised crime.

Walter Wolfgang, 82, committed the the cardinal sin of heckling Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during a speech at the Labour conference. He was thrown out of the conference -- which he was attending by right -- and when he tried to go back in, he was briefly detained under good ol' Section 44 of the Terrorism Act.

And the star of the show is Brian Haw, who's been camped outside the Houses of Parliament -- about twenty yards outside -- since June 2001. He's protesting against just about everything, but mostly Bush and Blair. He was arrested under the same law as Maya Evans, but because he's been there since before the law was enacted, the case was thrown out. This dangerous and wicked man is still at large, still 20 yards away from the most important people in the land.

By the time I'd read through all this, I was pretty aerated, I can tell you. In fact, I've a good mind to jump in my car and go drive around Parliament Square shouting the odds about the cost of electricity, just to see if the price of power is considered sensitive enough to be a threat to national security.

These protests are important, and a valuable lesson to all of us. It's important that they continue, if only to show the government that this raft of terrorist-related laws is acting like a non-stop stream of crank calls to the police.

I'll be the first one to say that we need tough laws to protect the citizenry against the threat of an attack. A real attack. One with bombs, not t-shirts. One with terrorists, not committed peace activists.

How many man-hours are being poured down the drain pursuing people who clearly do NOT represent a threat to security, and all because Tony Blair can't stand the fact that some people don't agree with him about some things?

If you or I were to call the police out on a wild-goose chase, just for a joke, we'd be arrested for wasting police time. And quite rightly. So why isn't someone arresting Phony Tony and his gang for wasting the police's time? Why isn't somebody in charge of the police force teaching a little bit of COMMON SENSE?

More recently, a couple of Greenpeacers dressed up as chickens and chained themselves to a table in a McDonald's. Apparently it took 20 police to arrest them, primarily because the arrest involved cutting the protesters free, and Lord knows those bolt cutters can cause a lot of collateral damage.

Have we lost all sense of proportion?

P.S. On a related subject, notice how all the protestors I mentioned above are middle-aged folk. Only Maya Evans is anything like young -- 25. What happened to the youth of this, and other, countries? These are probably the same people who first marched against the Vietnam war, and who still feel a burning sense of injustice and a desire to put things right.

But try and get someone under 30 to get all het-up about The State Of Things, and you'll get a "yeah, whatever" before they turn back to their X-Box.

Maybe the government should ban computer games. That might work.