Snake bites Prescott; Reid not arrested

The fearsome-sounding committee (hang on; fearsome-sounding committee? Did I just type that?) that looks after us when there is a civil contingencies emergency, COBRA, has been in the news recently.

I’d say most people think it’s called COBRA because some PR-guru thought it sounded suitably atavistic and fierce, although it’s actually an acronym for Cabinet Office Briefing Room ‘A’.

There’s been a lot of flak thrown at Prescott in particular for not chairing the meetings of COBRA. The scribes of Fleet Street seem to either not know, have forgotten or simply ignored the fact that it’s always the Home Secretary who chairs COBRA; the PM can if he wants, but it is by default the Home Secretary.

Give Prezza a break… people seem to be unsure as to what he does do, but we do know that he doesn’t do this.

The positioning of people for the leadership and deputy leadership continues, and it is doing damage to both the Labour party and, I think in a small way but adding to similar effects, democracy in the UK. I have no evidence to say that Reid or the people around him had anything to do with the comments on Prescott's non-chairing of COBRA, but I immediately think in those terms. In fairness, Reid has form for attacking and briefing against anyone he doesn't agree with.




Insult is added to injury when the Met can only be prosecuted under health and safety law. It is necessary at times for the Police to shoot to kill. You don't even need to go as far as terrorism, but look at a hostage situation for justification for shooting to incapacitate or kill; it can be justified. There are surely counts of incompetence and deception that could be levelled against the Met.

However, if shoot-to-kill is to be approved, it must be as a last resort and with all efforts made to reduce the likelihood of its being necessary. Allowing a suspected terrorist - one so dangerous that you must kill them on the tube - to board a bus is surely not a ringing endorsement of the police's actions; nor is the litany of statements that were later retracted or proved false about the precise circumstances in which de Menezes was shot.

Kratos, a policy of shoot-to-kill where someone is merely suspected of being a terrorist, does require the executive agency to do all it can (and not just follow Health and Safety law) to prevent a situation such as Stockwell arriving by early intervention and proper surveillance. Resourcing may well be an issue here.

In any case, Kratos does not work for suicide bombers. If a suicide bomber's intended target is, say, a Tube station, they'd prefer for the bomb to go off there. However, they would prefer the bomb to go off rather than not go off; it can still cause some damage and has similar effects of creating terror. If someone is capable of making, designing and detonating a bomb, they can probably make a dead man's switch. The policy, meanwhile, means that suspiscion is enough to kill, coupled with a lack of clear evidence, following of procedure and the apparent confusion based on de Menezes' skin colour.

Time to revisit the policy.


Unionise the armed forces?

From the summary of the HoC/HoL Joint Committee on Human Rights 22nd Report:

Other matters on which the Committee is seeking clarification from the Government are—

  • the justification in relation to Article 11 ECHR (freedom of assembly and association) for restrictions on members of the armed forces in terms of trade union membership (paragraph 1.41)
The link to the original document is here.

Now that would be fun - the army going on strike and the navy coming out in sympathy.

More seriously, it might do something to alleviate the equipment problems the armed forces are having. I don't think they should be in Iraq (etc ad nauseam) but if the poor buggers are going to be there, at least give them decent kit. It'd be very interesting if they refused, en masse, to go unless they felt they were equipped to do the job.

One of the Augustinian requirements for a "just war" is probability of success and adequate equipment for the task is necesary for that success. I tend to think that the troops in Basra at the moment would feel more protected by body armour than Trident.

That having been said, I do wonder if "just war" fits into the same category of warballs as "military intelligence", "friendly fire" and "collateral damage".



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