Sunday, April 17, 2005

Terror on the Holloway Road pt 1

Sleep Now
Originally uploaded by StefZ.

I have been trying, quite consciously, to empty my head of political thoughts this week.

It has not been easy.

The election campaign is in full swing and the media is full of it. And then there was that story about the Wood Green Terrorists. That got a lot of play.

The Wood Green story has been niggling me in particular. For a couple of reasons. The first reason, obviously enough, is because it is all bollocks. More of that later. The second reason was a tad more subtle and it has taken me a couple for days to put my finger on why the story bothered me so.

My irritation was caused by the Conservative claim that the policeman killed by Kamel Bourgass 'would not have been killed if Bourgass had been deported when his asylum claim had been rejected'. The government was clearly sensitive to this statement, as several ministers have endorsed a public apology that acknowledged some responsibility for the policeman's death.

Now, I am no fan of the government's handling of asylum and immigration, but this particular charge doesn't feel like it rings true. That is because it doesn'™t. It's a hindsight thing.

In the aftermath of any accident or tragedy there is a perfectly human desire to undertake a mental post-mortem of the events leading up to that accident or tragedy. 'If only we had decided to walk to the Pizza Hut rather than take the car', 'They only decided to fly that day at the last minute, woe! Woe!' etc. etc. The flaw with most of these post-mortems is that, usually, they have no direct bearing on the cause of the accident or tragedy and therefore quite irrelevant. Whilst understandable on a personal level, this kind of exercise is ultimately pointless and really should not be undertaken by people seeking to govern our country.

Tragedy post-mortems that conclude with lines like 'It really wasn't a good idea trying to operate heavy machinery whilst pissed' fall into a more causal category of observations and, yes, are productive. But, we havent been given any reason to believe that Bourgass had his asylum application turned down because he was a suspected murderer. So, his asylum status is totally irrelevant isnt it? The Conservatives could just as easily have said the policeman killed by Kamel Bourgass would not have been killed if Bourgass, or the policeman, had never been born at all. Also '€˜true'€™ statements and also just as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Being ticked-off as I am with the Conservatives' abuse of logic does not mean that I'm impressed with the rhetoric coming from the government or the police either. They have stuck with the line 'Only one person is responsible for the murder and that is the murderer Kamel Bourgass' throughout. Also 'true' but also deceitful, and comparable with blaming all air crashes on gravity or the lions for eating the Christians.

Hindsight powered comments such as 'Maybe Bourgass should have been handcuffed when he was arrested, rather than sat down next to a kitchen knife for half an hour' or 'How come police in Manchester on anti-terrorism raids don't wear knife proof vests, yet police in London wear them even when they go out to buy their lunchtime sandwiches?' would be productive but, curiously, haven't had much of an airing in the media.

And that'€™s what really pisses me off about the mental exercise Ive just been through. I thought about this story because I am a little bit more concerned than most other people, am a little bit more thoughful than some people and have a little bit more time on my hands than most people. So, who can those thought and time-deficient people rely on to spot and punish the legions of bullshitters out there? The newspapers? The television?

What an awfully droll idea.

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