Sunday, October 24, 2010
Why 7/7 victims were left to bleed to death: Before a British policeman tries to save you he must consider 238 dangers to stop him suing bosses
By David Gilbertson (A former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner)
Amid the disturbing evidence at last week’s inquest into the deaths of the 52 victims of the 7/7 London bombings, there was a moment of great clarity.
Survivor Michael Henning described how he stumbled to safety from the wreckage of a bombed Tube train at Aldgate station and pleaded with a group of emergency workers to go underground and help injured and dying passengers. The firemen on the station platform seemed embarrassed and explained that they had been ordered to stay out of the tunnel because of fears of a second explosion.
Victims died in agony during the delay – and there proved to be no second bomb.
In lamenting the loss of the ‘Blitz Spirit’ – when wartime rescue workers risked their lives to pull people from bombed and blazing buildings – Mr Henning laid bare the uncomfortable truth: that today’s fire and ambulance crews and particularly today’s police officers are trained to see hypothetical risks to themselves as far more important than the actual safety of the public they are meant to serve.
The bombings of July 7, 2005, are not the only crisis in which this ‘risk assessment’ culture has been revealed. Last June, ambulancemen in Cumbria were widely criticised for standing by for vital hours while the gunshot victims of taxi driver Derrick Bird bled to death.
The explanation given later was that they had been refused permission to advance by the police because of fears that Bird might open fire on them. He was already dead and nobody will ever know how many lives could have been saved had the emergency services acted sooner.
I spent 35 years as a police officer before retiring as Deputy Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard and I’m dismayed but not surprised by the rise of this self-serving risk assessment culture.
Who can now imagine an officer having the bravery and initiative of the Metropolitan, Police Commander who at the height of the 1981 Brixton riots commandeered a fire engine, drove it into the centre of an angry mob and dispersed the crowd by firing water from the hoses? Anyone doing the same today would immediately be sidelined as a maverick taking unnecessary risks.
The root of the problem lies in a little-known and ill-advised piece of legislation passed in the dying days of John Major’s Government, when the eyes of Parliament and the country at large were on the forthcoming General Election.
The Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997 was introduced as a result of vigorous lobbying on behalf of the Police Federation, the ‘trade union’ of officers up to the rank of chief inspector, which had been demanding action after a number of policemen in London had been shot on duty.
Under pressure, the Yard allowed the introduction of body armour and the the replacement of truncheons with a range of new weaponry. The aim of the new law was to make policemen safer by applying the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act to the force.
However, the original legislation was designed not for the complexities of police work, but for heavy industry, and the result was a nationwide organisational panic, hastily designed training courses and a frenzy of unnecessary paperwork which continues to this day.
The fire and ambulance services, which were already covered by the 1974 legislation, became infected by the same ‘safety-first’ malaise. Of course, both services are operationally linked with the police – who often, as in Cumbria, take overall control of major incidents.
The current Metropolitan Police generic risk-assessment checklist, form RA1, is mind-blowing. It requires officers to choose from a menu of 238 possible hazards before conducting any sort of operational activity.
The assessment must be submitted, with covering forms RA2 and RA3, to a senior officer, who then has to consider what ‘control measures’ need to be applied, before submitting his recommendation – with form RA4 – to his ‘portfolio holder’ (jargon for the responsible officer) in order for the risk assessment to be confirmed and signed off.
Chief constables are liable for any breach and the spectre of legal action is no idle threat. In 2003, then Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir John (now Lord) Stevens and his predecessor Lord Condon faced the ignominy of being prosecuted at the Old Bailey for alleged breaches of health and safety regulations after two incidents in which constables fell through roofs while pursuing suspected burglars. Both were acquitted and the trial judge roundly condemned the £3 million proceedings.
But the damage was done. A generation of senior police, fire and ambulance officers have grown up in an environment where avoidance of risk and the fear of being sued by an ‘ambulance-chasing’ solicitor is more important than public duty.
Add to this the rise of the ‘compensation culture’, fostered by no-win, no-fee lawyers, and the nit-picking caution of insurance companies who demand to see paper trails and written risk assessments for every eventuality and it is easy to see how the organisational manager, rather than the operational leader, gained the ascendancy.
This corrosive culture of caution and risk-avoidance is why the Aldgate firefighters were ordered to stay at the gates rather than help the grievously wounded.
I believe there is still a Blitz Spirit within individual officers. But it is a natural instinct that is being suppressed. The embarrassment and shame Mr Henning saw on the faces of the 7/7 firefighters revealed that they felt deeply uncomfortable at being held back from doing their duty by rules and regulations beyond their control.
Idealistic firefighters, police officers and ambulance crews have always joined their services believing they may be called upon to put their safety on the line. But force discipline is taken seriously in the emergency services. Young officers are taught to follow procedures and ordered not to take risks by senior officers who have never known the old virtues of leadership, initiative, judgment and duty.
These are the officers (they are managers, rather than leaders) who visibly blanch every year when the police bravery awards are announced. Where you and I see heroes being decorated for acting without regard to their own safety, these paper shufflers see potential lawsuits, insurance claims and breaches of force discipline.
This Coalition Government, at least, seems to recognise that there is a problem. Lord Young spent three months poring over health and safety regulations and the Prime Minister last month pledged to free the emergency services and teachers from senseless health and safety rules.
But sweeping away the red tape will make no difference without a complete culture change. The police, fire and ambulance services must be made to understand that they owe a duty of responsibility first and foremost to the public who pay their wages, and that leaders, not managers, are needed to drive the message home.
Rigid adherence to procedure is not the easy way out. A good leader at Aldgate would have assumed authority and ordered his crews in to help injured passengers on a bombed Tube train. He would have dealt with the crisis first and worried about health and safety later.
And if a single life had been saved, they would have been hailed as fitting heirs to the wartime Blitz Spirit.
Extra £3bn overseas aid would have kept Harrier jet fighters flying for 20 years
Golden bedsteads for African dictators are top priority for Britain's centrist government. Too bad Britain will have no aircraft to put on its new aircraft carriers
British aid projects abroad are to be ‘branded’ with the Union Jack in an attempt to stem growing public anger over the amount spent on international development.
While most Government departments suffered savage cuts in last week’s Spending Review, foreign aid will rise by £3.1 billion by 2014. The amount is enough to keep the 80-strong Harrier jump jet fleet – which will be axed under the cuts – in the air for 20 years. Alternatively, it would pay for the building of 310 primary schools, or overturn the scrapping of child benefit for high earners.
A new Mail on Sunday/BPIX poll shows that four out of five voters think it was wrong to protect aid-spending while cutting defence.
Now International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has promised to show taxpayers what their money is buying by flying the flag over bridges, hospitals and other projects funded in poor countries.
The move follows criticism that – unlike schemes paid for by the EU – British enterprises remain unmarked, a product of the ‘old school’ diplomatic belief that it would look crass and ostentatious.
The idea will be pioneered in ‘more stable’ parts of Africa. But Mr Mitchell has been warned of the danger it could pose to aid workers in such states as Pakistan or Afghanistan, where anti-Western opinion is rife. ‘We need to make British aid more visible. The Union Jack is the most identifiable symbol of the UK,’ said Mr Mitchell. ‘But we have to be sensible so we don’t put humanitarian workers at risk.’
The move follows irritation at the aggressive way the EU claims credit.
Mr Mitchell said MPs on the International Development Select Committee visiting a foreign project which was 90 per cent funded by the UK and ten per cent by the EU were infuriated by the Brussels flag flapping at the site. Locals thanked them in the belief that they were MEPs. Our poll shows 81 per cent of voters think it was wrong to raise overseas aid by 37 per cent to £9.4 billion, while defence is cut by eight per cent.
Much of our aid goes to prosperous countries such as India. The world’s fourth-largest economy, with its own space and nuclear programmes, it received £295 million last year. Russia and China also benefit from UK largesse.
Last night Mr Mitchell said: ‘Aid is given to advance British interests, as with money given to Afghanistan to help protect national security. ‘But it is also morally right. The British instinct is to help people in developing countries, as demonstrated by our generous response to the recent floods in Pakistan.’
But Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘I don’t think we can justify such a sharp hike at a time of such chilling austerity.’
This does more harm than good, Mr Osborne
Billions of pounds are spent by Britain every year on overseas aid – otherwise known as official development assistance (ODA). Much of this money ends up in the hands of the venal and corrupt political elite in poor countries.
Study after study shows that such spending does more harm than good. The spending review presented Chancellor George Osborne with a perfect opportunity to cut this counter-productive programme. He blew it. Spectacularly.
Instead of cutting ODA, Osborne announced plans to increase it by 50 per cent from £8.4 billion in 2010-11 to £12.6 billion in 2014-15 (this figure includes capital outlay in this country as well as the £9.4 billion spent overseas).
Over the next five years, the Government will borrow more than £50 billion to fund various dodgy activities in poor countries.
The spending review claims that ODA will now be ‘more focused on boosting economic growth and wealth-creation’. But for five decades, the governments of Britain and other rich countries have been sending money to the governments of poor countries in order to promote economic development, and it hasn’t worked.
Actually, it has backfired. Countries whose governments have received more ODA have grown more slowly than those that received less.
When governments receive handouts, they behave much like welfare scroungers. Instead of putting their countries to work by providing a friendly environment for business, they mooch around.
Of course, they nearly always agree to do their bit to promote development, just as welfare recipients swear blind that they are looking for a job. But there is a difference. Most welfare recipients live in council accommodation and many earnestly search for a job.
By contrast, many ODA recipients live in mansions, own fleets of Mercedes and fly first-class – and have no intention of reforming their economies. Why would they give up the backhanders for handing out aid-related contracts?
Economists now understand what conditions lead to growth – ‘economic freedoms’. The most important of them are secure property rights, free markets, low taxes and the rule of law. Countries with more economic freedoms grow faster than countries with fewer.
The spectacular growth rates since the Sixties of Hong Kong, Singapore, Mauritius and Botswana – and, more recently, China, India and Vietnam – can be explained by improvements in economic freedoms. While ODA might conceivably be used to encourage governments to improve their economic freedoms, this rarely happens. ODA was misconceived.
The Islamic Memorial in Pennsylvania
Cynthia Yacowar-Sweeney of Canada Free Press notes in her startling article, “Under Construction – The Other 9/11 Mosque,”
"With eyes on New York, [on the Ground Zero mosque] it’s easy to overlook the other ground-zero mosque that is presently being built in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at the Flight 93 crash site. That 9/11 site is home to what will soon be the world’s largest open-air mosque disguised as a memorial, contends author Alec Rawls. After five years of insignificant media coverage and minimal public awareness, construction of the Flight 93 Memorial centerpiece is already in progress. The giant half-mile wide Islamic-shaped red crescent of maple trees is slated for completion next year on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, when the autumn leaves of the crescent’s trees turn a brilliant flaming red."
An earlier article by Clinton W. Taylor in The American Spectator, “Monumental Failure,” claims that the crescent of maple trees has been turned into a circle. According to Alex Rawls, who claims in his yet-to-be-released book,Crescent of Betrayal: Dishonoring the Heroes of Flight 93, that the whole memorial, once completed, will be nothing less than the largest outdoor mosque in existence. Rawls, reports Sweeney, claims there is hardly a facet of the final design that still does not incorporate or at least suggest basic mosque design features, most notably the crescent and a minaret-like tower, which face Mecca.
According to Rawls, this crescent is one of many mosque features embedded in architect Paul Murdoch’s winning “Crescent of Embrace” design, later changed mainly in name only, to “Circle of Embrace”. Another important and mandatory mosque feature is Mecca orientation for prayer. For this memorial to be a proper mosque, it must face Mecca. And Rawls proves it does, in his book “Crescent of Betrayal: Dishonoring the Heroes”. Using math and geometry, Rawls calculates that the center of the crescent points almost exactly towards Mecca. That makes the Flight 93 Memorial a mosque.
But, just as the “memorial” to the casualties at the World Trade Center has been mired in politics and governed by a cloying philosophy of “grief,” with the consequence that what was decided on – by committee, by consensus – will satisfy no one and will certainly not “memorialize” all who died on that site, so has the one scheduled for Shanksville. The Pentagon 9/11 memorial is also a study in “grief.” The Shanksville memorial may or may not have incorporated mosque features in its design. What cannot be denied is that the designis extraordinarily vacuous.
Going to the National Park Service website to study perspectives of the memorial, one is stymied. Click on the highlighted “The Memorial Design” link, and nothing happens; one must be satisfied with the NPS’s assurances that construction of the memorial is underway. All the other highlighted links work but that one:
Construction is underway. We are on schedule to dedicate the initial phase of the permanent memorial on September 11, 2011. Learn more about the design and the entire plan to construct the memorial.
Is the National Park Service (NPS) so ashamed of the design that, in the grand tradition of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it won’t permit anyone to see “what’s in it” until it is finished? Is it so nondescript, banal and noncommittal that the NPS knows that people will be astonished by how much the design is an exercise in blandness, and raise objections, if not for its non-statement, then for its mosque elements?
Yes, to both questions. As Clinton W. Taylor indicates in his American Spectator article, a circle of maple trees, a tower of wind chimes, and other oddities do not a monument or memorial make – except, perhaps, to the sensitive pragmatism of the designers and to those who sanctioned the design. Taylor writes:
I don't think Paul Murdoch Architects, the L.A.-based firm who came up with this harbors some deep affinity for Taliban hegemony. On the other hand, I do believe that the revised plan is so vague that it is possible to find any number of conflicting interpretations within its incoherent and nihilistic expanse.
The conflicts and controversy over these three “memorials” reveal an underlying but unacknowledged fear of Islam. No one wants to name the ideology or the religion of the hijackers. That would be “offensive” and serve to invite charges of anti-Muslimism or anti-Islamism or disrespect for Islam or prejudice against Islam. So virtually everyone involved in choosing memorial designs has steered a pragmatic middle course, and settled for something to “remember” the “victims” – not casualties, as they actually were, because we are demonstrably at war with Islam, just as all who died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are not referred to as victims, but as casualties. The committees, the boards, the designers all felt compelled to do something because of the historic nature of the attacks, and know that they must acknowledge it -- somehow.
As the rebuilding of the World Trade Center was subjected to a design competition and a public vote, which vote the bureaucratic entity in charge of the project chose to ignore, the design for the selected Shanksville memorial, with subsequent alterations, from over 1,000 submissions, was then subjected to deliberation by a committee and jury overseen by the NPS, which had bought the land on which the plane crashed. Why the NPS should have intruded on the matter is easily explained: No national monument or memorial can be erected without the approval of a bureaucracy.
Self-censorship is a deep-rooted psychological phenomenon, a congenital act of repression, as well as a political issue. It will not manifest itself in an individual in so revealing an introspective message as: “I’d just rather not provoke Muslims by accusing their brothers of being responsible for 9/11, I don’t want to be accused of bigotry or anything like that, I’m too cowardly, so I’ll just go along with whatever someone else suggests, so long as it’s not discriminatory or judgmental.” In such a mind, the door is shut and locked to such thoughts. It manifests itself in a circumspect advocacy of the safely banal and in virulent opposition to anyone not so repressed or self-censored.
Sweeney warns in her article that: "Intentional or not, the symbolism does matter and has remained an issue of grave concern for many, especially against the backdrop of the growing threat of Sharia Law in America - the legal code of the Quran which can be brutally oppressive when interpreted by radical Islamists who view the West as the enemy to be conquered."
The controversy over the Shanksville memorial design doubtless has been noted by Islamists here and abroad. Their chortles and snickers will grow louder and bolder when the memorial is completed. Sweeney concludes,
If Rawls is correct in his contention that the memorial is truly a victory mosque in disguise, then there is ample reason for concern, given that many American mosques are funded by Saudi Arabia, the country that gave America 15 of the 19 terrorists on 9/11, and are radicalized by its Wahhabi hardliners - meaning that these radicals choose and train the imams and also write or give final approval of the sermons.
If Rawls is correct, then one should expect to see, after the memorial is opened to the public, large numbers of Muslims flocking to it to say prayers, very likely in a special space provided to them by our dhimmi National Park Service.
You can have Islamic States but not Jewish ones, apparently
Israel 's government recently approved an amendment to its citizenship law by which those seeking to become naturalized citizens will take an oath of allegiance to Israel "as a Jewish and democratic state."
Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas' and Arab regimes profess to be outraged. Abbas said explicitly that he would never accept Israel as a Jewish state. This rejection is not new. To an Arab audience last year, Abbas said, "I say this clearly: I do not accept the Jewish State, call it what you will." Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, for example, describes the new oath as a "fascist" act that "proves" that Israel is a "racist country."
Why this rejection? The PLO official news agency, WAFA, explains, "A Jewish state endangers not only Palestinians, but also the Arab World, and the global security. It is a call for legitimizing a racist entity, built on pure ethnic and theocratic criteria."
This is nonsense. One fifth of Israeli citizens are non-Jews, almost all Arab and Muslim, who vote, attend the same universities, use the same buses and eat in the same restaurants services as other Israelis, though few perform military service, from which they are exempted. Israel has had Arab ministers, Knesset members, supreme court justices and diplomatic representatives something yet to be seen in respect of Jews (or any non-Arabs) living in Arab majority states. Iraq, with a Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, is the sole exception, courtesy of the American removal of Saddam's regime.
Moreover, what substance is there to the claim that it is racist to demand that the general identity of the state conform to that of the history and aspirations of those who founded it? Would that assertion leave Arab and Muslim states untarnished?
The answer is no: the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Great Jamahiriya and the Islamic Republic of Iran are the official names of just a few of Israel's neighbors, near and distant. Assad's own Syrian constitution's Article 1 declares that "the Syrian Arab region is a part of the Arab homeland" and its citizens are "part of the Arab nation."
Even more to the point is the way Palestinians define themselves. Fatah and Hamas in combination speak for the majority of Palestinians. The Fatah-controlled PA has promulgated a Palestinian Basic Law, Article 4 of which proclaims, "Islam is the official religion in Palestine" and "the principles of Islamic Sharia shall be the main source of legislation." Article 116 states, "laws shall be promulgated in the name of the Palestinian Arab people."
Note: not Palestinians, irrespective of ethnic or religious identity, but Palestinian Arabs. No comparable clause is to be found in Israel's Basic Laws.
Abbas has stated clearly that a Palestinian state is to be Jew-free: "I will not accept one Israeli to remain on Palestinian territory." PA law imposes a death penalty for the sale of land to a Jew. Rejecting Jewish sovereignty and murdering those who sold land to Jews was precisely the situation when Palestinians rejected a Jewish state as part of the 1947 UN partition plan, which proposed the creation of an Arab state and a Jewish state in the British Mandate of Palestine.
Hamas, in its Charter (which not so incidentally calls in Article 7 for the global murder of Jews) states, "Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Koran its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief."
Therefore, not only do Israel's Arab foes define their own existence in explicit national and religious terms, but they base their political orientation on these criteria to an exclusive, reactionary degree. In contrast, democratic norms enunciated in basic laws and the rule of law enforced by secular courts define the Israeli experience.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.