London seen from Paris

Posted in advertising, breakfast, Eurostar, France, London, Paris, sex by Deputy city editor on October 5, 2007

I am grateful to la petite anglaise for drawing to my attention this poster from the Paris Metro. Love-starved Parisians are being encouraged to flock to London to enjoy the aphrodisiac effects of a Great British Fry-up.

Killing with impunity

Posted in Britain, de Menezes, Legal, London, Media, police, tantrums, Terror, Terrorism by Deputy city editor on August 3, 2007

Sanitised image of Menezes after being killed by the British police. British TV pictures are routinely heavily edited/censored.

How is it possible that an entirely blameless and innocent man should be killed by shots to the head in a public place, with scores of witnesses, and that nobody seems to be responsible? Multiple intelligence failures, command failures, communication failures, obstruction of investigators and the specific dishonesty and incompetence of senior officers have characterised the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station in July 2005. But nobody is to blame or will be punished. A trivial and insulting charge has been laid that Menezes’s killing was a “health and safety” violation.

The failure of the British legal and political system to hold anyone to account for the killing of Mr de Menezes means the police in Britain are entitled to recklessly shoot dead whosever they want and nobody is responsible.

De Menezes was killed by the police force run by Tony Blair’s favourite cop, Sir Ian Blair, who remains in his job for reasons that nobody can explain.

He is either the thickest cop in England, the most incompetent, or the best ass-coverer in a long tradition.

How do you believe a police complaints commission report that finds that it took Blair 24 hours to find out what everyone else knew in the first two minutes – that Menezes was not a terrorist and that his armed police (aided by soliders) had killed the wrong man? Even if this is true, it is ridiculous.

The police complaints commission report which you can read about here doesn’t even try to point the figure at those responsible for organising this killing, but only looks narrowly at one aspect of the aftermath. The whitewash commission had earlier failed to hold anyone responsible for the killing itself. Indeed Cressida Dick, the aptly surnamed police”gold” commander in charge of the control room that presided over the killing of deMenezes, has subsequently been promoted.

The police complaints commission, an organisation as intentionally useless as any in existence, has produced a conclusion so ridiculous that it would be laughable, were not the subject matter so deadly important. Evidence that the police had hidden evidence and changed logs in the case was swept under the carpet earlier.

Harriet Wistrich, my former neighbour, who represents the family of the killed man, is right to be incredulous.

The police complaints commission criticises the head of the anti-terrorist branch, Andy Hayman, not for the killing of de Menezes but for failing to tell his boss, even though everyone else in London (including crime reporters) knew this a day earlier. Hayman had even briefed the Scotland Yard crime reporters’ association (a press club for whom membership is contingent on never straying too far from the Scotland Yard press office) that they’d killed the wrong guy. The idea that Blair was too busy to ask is simply and literally incredible.

Apparently, implied criticism of other officers was removed from the report because they threatened legal action, which is a favourite tactic of police officers when they are cornered and further evidence that the PCC is a toothless watchdog.

Everyone comes out of this stinking. Ministers for creating a dysfunctional monster in the Metropolitan police, and putting in charge the worst policeman in London, a knighted rozzer who should never have been trusted with anything more sensitive than points duty. The police, who are not merely incompetent but dangerous. The police complaints commission, which is a joke from which any members who still have a sense of honour should have resigned long ago.

When they are not busy arresting people for reading out the names of Iraq war dead at the Cenotaph, the Metropolitan Police is primarily concerned with itself. Senior officers are in thrall to a “system reality” constructed by consultants and information systems, driven by targets and the self-aggrandisement that comes to those who preside over them. The police force, not just in London, is divorced from the reality on the ground: that Islamic terrorism is simply not the existential threat it has been presented as. Individual officers are powerless to make much or any difference.

This has not been the first time that British police have killed completely innocent people, as this excellent page notes, and there has been no responsibility assigned or accountability demonstrated. A state in which the police can murder innocent men with impunity is a police state. With the publication of this latest whitewashed report, this fact now stares us in the face, and it is only British hypocrisy that prevents us from seeing it.

Boris – a bit of a shambles, really

Boris Johnson’s campaign web site is so bad! In any survey of the world’s political web sites, it would have to rank at or close to the bottom. Not updated in six days (as of Saturday 21 July), it is a feeble thing compared to the Ken Livingstone alternative. If one considers the ultra-smart and sophisticated use of the political web in France recently, just as an example, then the Boris site looks like something put together by hapless wonders. It is simply not a serious piece of work. When I pointed this out to them, they were snooty.

Boris is supposed to be this amazingly creative fellow but he or his people have produced a dire example of political communication. I like Boris very much. He was an admirably inventive Brussels correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. I once went there to offer him a job on the Sunday Times. He refused, but paid for lunch. He is very funny. But would you really trust him to run anything? Even if you find Ken Livingstone loathsome, he is a serious politician who can and does run things and has a proven track record where it counts. He warned that the public-private partnerships forced on the tube by Gordon Brown were unworkable. He introduced the London congestion charge which even if you hate it has been notable if only because it is a giant IT project that does not appear to have gone pear shaped. Ditto Oyster. He’s been four-square behind the Olympics, for better or worse. But he was part of the team that won them. He is socially clumsy and lacks tact but financially modest and nobody thinks for a second he is in politics 110% for himself. He lives modestly and has never been tarnished with even a hint of corruption. Plus, he’s a Londoner to his bone marrow. Boris, on the other hand, is always good company but doesn’t really live in London, and has behaved badly in his office as editor of the Spectator (provided you agree with me that it is idiotic to have affairs in the office where you are in charge). He is a funny journalist and an amusing buffoon-like presence on the Tory benches in the House of Commons where to be honest there is little competition. This is where he should remain unless he can prove quickly that we should take him seriously. As it seems that this is all a bit of a lark, it remains to inquire of the famous David Cameron: when do we take you seriously? Are you incapable of producing a serious candidate for the biggest direct electoral mandate in Britain? So much for British democracy. As Boris might say: Cripes!

Bulletin (Sunday July 22): the Boris site has finally been updated; it remains dire.