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The London Blasts


The London Blasts: Media Review

DAY 82: 27 September 2005


Realism - Business Joins The Consensus


Satire Alert - Brown And 'Renewal'



It was just a matter of time. We have the general public, Chatham House, some leading Conservatives, the Home Office and the Foreign Office, and British intelligence in a variety of manifestations, all agreeing that the war in Iraq is undermining national security and fuelling domestic terrorism in the UK.

Now British capitalism joins the national consensus.

An FT survey of 64 leading businesses - conducted weeks before the July attacks - found that '57 per cent of respondents felt the threat from terrorism would in-crease over the next 12 to 24 months'. This was down from the 83 per cent that had expected the threat to rise the year before. Crucially,

'Some 83 per cent of respondents felt the war with Iraq had increased the terrorist threat'.

Admittedly, this is below the 93 per cent figure found in 2004, but it still verges on a consensus.

The survey was of 64 businesses 'half of which have yearly sales greater than $1bn (£565m).'

Rand Europe, the research organisation that co-produced the survey with Janusian, the security group, for the FT, said: "Perception is everything and even though we had ever-encroaching attacks in Istanbul in 2003 and Madrid in 2004, the UK authorities had been pretty successful since 2001 in wrapping up every terrorist cell."

Mr O'Brien said: "If you see the security forces being successful you are not necessarily worried about something coming up to bite you. And because Iraq was such a cauldron, there was some belief that those who wished to damage British interests were being sucked into Iraq as Jihadis."

In other words, there was growing complacency based on the belief that potential terrorists were being diverted to Iraq, rather than being made so angry and alienated that they were willing to carry out similar attacks here in Britain.

How the media works: The headline (on page 7) is 'Business relaxed on terrorism threat before July bombs'. The crucial finding that 83 per cent of businesses surveyed felt Iraq was increasing the terrorist threat is reserved for the final sentence. This is how the free press works: you can print the facts, but placement, tone and frequency of repetition mean that the truth is effectively suppressed.



There is speculation that David Miliband, a rising star in New Labour's firmament, is pioneering a new theme for Blairite propaganda and 'initiatives'. Here are some of his words from the Labour Party conference, from the Independent (page 7 or paid-for access):

'David Miliband, the cabinet minister responsible for promoting "respect", rejected electoral reform, but said the Labour Party needed to act to prevent voters turning to extremism.'

'He warned that Labour would suffer at the ballot box if it ignored the sense of alienation and "powerlessness" felt by voters across the country in areas such as housing, antisocial behaviour and local services. Pointing to recent BNP successes in council elections in Burnley, Lancashire, he said: "It's when people feel powerless, when they feel the system doesn't work for them, they don't just get apathetic, they get angry. When they turn to anger. When they turn to anger, they turn to extremism." '

'Mr Miliband said: "Understanding the needs of people is the first step towards victory. People need to see we have the right vision, values and policies. But the bottom line is that to stay in power we have to release power. We know that the new enemy is a sense of powerlessness." '

' "I think this sense of powerlessness is a very very profound thing for us to come to terms with. Over the next 10 years the issue of power is going to be the core of politics." '

'He set out a four-point plan for securing a record fourth consecutive Labour election victory. Party chiefs had to listen more closely to the messages on the doorsteps, to convey more clearly Labour's principles, highlight the success of its policies and the strength of the economy and spell out the fundamental differences with opposition parties.

(The first two paragraphs, and the other material in italics, are in the paper version, but not online, for some reason. The final paragraph is online, but not in the paper version.)

This is a line of argument found in the Home Office/Foreign Office Young Muslims and Extremism report. It is entirely plausible. Powerlessness in the face of the massive oppression of Muslims around the world, and especially powerlessness in the face of large-scale deaths at the hands of the US and British governments, may well be the single most important component of the rising threat of home-grown terrorism in the UK.

For white working class communities, as Miliband remarks, powerlessness in the face of community breakdown and government and market failure, and an inability to stem the loss of race privileges, may well be the single most important component of the rising threat of home-grown fascism in the UK.

The solution is indeed to deal with the roots of people's 'anger'. The solution indeed is to move power away from the centre to grassroots communities (while eliminating religious and racist bigotry). But Mr Miliband and his colleagues will not 'release' their power over foreign and domestic policy. The power will have to be taken away from them.

Here's a four-point plan for Mr Miliband:

1) Stop lying. Stop lying about the neocolonial control Washington and London hold over Iraq and Afghanistan, the brutalities you've committed, and the real sources of the insurgencies in those countries. Stop lying about the connections between your wars abroad and the war beginning here on our own soil.

2) Get out. Declare your intention to withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan in stages, to a public timetable of months. Urge the United States also to withdraw from these countries.

3) Pay back. Support the Iraqi Government, the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and any other credible bodies in developing and rapidly introducing an international, unbiased third-party security force able to offer as much security as is possible for the Iraqi people, and for the reconstruction effort in Iraq. Stop meddling in Iraqi politics, and support a UN presence that can offer assistance in Iraq's political transition. Pay as much as you were going to spend on the war to fund these efforts, and pay as much again towards the cost of reconstruction - without strings.

4) Apologise. Apologise for the invasion of Iraq. Apologise for the occupation of Iraq. Apologise for delaying democracy in Iraq. Apologise for invading Afghanistan. Apologise for the occupation of Afghanistan. Apologise for turning a blind eye to the massacre and torture of peoples around the world, including Muslims in Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine, and so on.

And domestically? The four-point plan probably includes something about reversing Conservative trade union laws, reversing and forswearing Public-Private-Partnerships and other forms of privatization, restoring taxes to the levels of the Conservative Heath Government and using those taxes to drag housing and local services to a decent level, and ending the pandering to white racism in immigration and asylum policies. Something like that, anyway.



Robert Shrimsley of the FT continues to provide a top-notch diary (page 21). Here's the second item in his column today:

War of words

On reflection, though, one should not rush to see the chancellor's speech as heralding a new summer of love. There was a fair bit of verbal violence in what might be termed the personal manifesto section of his speech.

That point about his being raised by his parents "to tell the truth and take responsibility" was naked aggression against a prime minister whose word has - how can one put this? - come to be regarded as slightly less than his bond. (Although one wonders, after Mr Brown's weekend admission that he would not meet his growth forecasts, whether than passage might have read: "I learned to tell the truth, though preferably while abroad when no-one is watching, and to take responsibility for my actions unless I can blame high oil prices.")

Then there was Mr Brown's observation that the "renewal of New Labour is as profound a challenge, as rigorous a task and as great an achievement as the creation of New Labour."

This, loosely translated, states that "salvaging our party from its reputation for cynicism, incompetence and unprinciple leadership will be as great an achievement as helping to forge that reputation in the first place".

And, yes, Mr Brown did help to forge that reputation. Boy, did he ever. We'll cast an eye over his speech tomorrow when there's coverage of the current leader's efforts to compare it with.

JNV welcomes feedback.

This page last updated 27 September 2005





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