Wednesday, November 09, 2005

90 days and 90 nights

As everyone reading this knows by now, I was on the bombed train at Kings Cross, in the first carriage. So yes, I am not surprised that terrorists seek to do what they can to attack my democratic society, to threaten my liberties, to spread fear, to seek to divide us.

I do not expect my democratically-elected government to do the same. I cannot, and do not speak for all the victims, and nor can, and nor should Tony Blair and Charles Clarke.

But I know one thing: to defeat terrorism and hate-filled individuals we need to draw strength from each other, to co-operate and talk with each other, whether white or black, Muslim or Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Jew or atheist. Just like we did when the lights went out and the tunnel filled with smoke and we heard the screams of the dying; we drew together, we held hands, we prayed and we did not panic.

I do not see why this ill-thought out macho posturing, which can only destabilise and divide us, by robbing men and women of the ancient and fundemental right of habeas corpus, and making sections of the community afraid, is going to defeat terror.

And I will not meekly accept claims that this is to be done in my name. This is panicking, this is fearful, this is not helpful. I expect better than this, and I deserve better than this. We all do.

And by the way, calling me a 'pathetic liberal', Mr Home Secretary, is despicable bullying. Terrorists seek to destabilise liberal societies, I am proud to live in one and I will do what I can to protect it by working for harmony, not war between countries and between faiths, by behaving with confidence and calm, not aggression and machismo, by reaching out to people.

Doing the opposite of looking at people with the suspicion and fear that breeds hatred and mistrust and worse. Taking a bit of damn time to think about things.

Why the rush if not for political gain? How dare you co-opt 'the victims' to defend this attack on liberties, as if we are all some amorphous bloodied mass that you can wave in front of the Commons as a fig leaf for your naked desire to be seen to be 'tough on terror'?

I am not going to be a human shield for this Government. Not in my name, I say, you do not act for me. If you want to be tough on terror, then why not be tough on the causes of terror? Why not address, for example, Iraq, why you invaded, the bitter fruits of your ill-thought out invasion?

And until you do, when I hear your voices dripping sympathy and concern, saying you do this 'for the victims', Tony, Charles, and the rest of you... I remain disgusted that you should use ordinary people - because that is all we are - bombed people - bloodied people - in this way. Who gave you the right to speak for me, Mr Blair, Mr Clarke? When did I give my blessing to fear-mongering?

You have never asked my opinion. You did not listen when I and a million others took to the streets and you do not listen now.

How I wish I had the strength and the freedom to break ranks and embarrass you properly. But I know I will be eaten alive by the media if I am the 'dissenting victim's voice'. I get enough calls from journos as it is at the moment.

I helped to set up Kings Cross United, ( an email/pub group for the bombed train survivors, run by survivors) and fronted the media awareness push so fellow passengers knew we were here and could find us. KCU is a non-political body so it is not appropriate to talk publicly about my views, as 'Rachel North', because they are just my views and not representative of the group. And I cannot use my real name, because it would have an impact on me professionally.

So I just did an interview, anonymously, as a survivor called 'Sarah'. And I said some of what I wanted to say, and I feel better for it ( mind you, I haven't heard it yet. It went out at 12.10pm, I will use the 'Listen Again 'feature and catch it later on).

What Liberty said.

What The Guardian said

What - good grief - the Telegraph said

And I banged this out in my lunch hour, and now it's in The Times. Well, good.
Bollocks to this. I can't just sit there and take this crap.
It's not what I believe in. It's not what I got off the damn train for, frankly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything you say here is 100% spot-on. 90 days without trial means we effectively loose a right to trial, which is probably the single biggest pillar of our democratic society. I don't want people imprisoned for 90 days, if it takes the police that long to find enough evidence then I think we need to call their competence into question.

To everyone who approves of this bill, think, just for a moment, on how you would feel if you, your partner, friend or neighbour was incarcerated, for 90 days - all because a terrorist had done a bit of identity fraud or the names were similar... hmm - worrying isn't it.

Mr. Blair can do this because his patronising "there is simply no other way" is swallowed, hook line and sinker by the entire UK population. What really scares me is the Labour Government is even further removed from the public than the Tories ever were, and they get voted back in - why? has everyone been taking happy pills or something? When the Lords reject this I can see the Parliament Act being invoked again.

Thinking of all you've said & I feel, it seems an inevitable conclusion that, by introducing this 90 days detention, Mr Blair is handing victory to Al-Qieda.

The word traitor springs to mind, but that is unpaletable for many.

Open your eyes, people, use your brain's, listen to what Rachel has said, and think for yourselves.

I don't have a lot of time for "liberal do-gooders" or "environmental extremists", but without them governments would get away with everything, so, just for today, I'm siding with the pathetic liberals and am proud to do so.


November 09, 2005 2:51 p.m.  
Anonymous Longrider said...

I heard the interview and was sickened by the respondent's comments that despite the wheeling out of victims the previous day, this was not "in your name" - presumably because you had the temerity to go off-message. These people make me sick. This is nothing more than opportunism. Legislation such as this has to be discussed dispassionately and widely to ensure that there are no nasty surprises and that the nature of our society is not affected for the worst.

Anyway, following the Vine interview, I rattled off my own blog entry...

November 09, 2005 4:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole blog is so pretentious.

November 09, 2005 5:23 p.m.  
Blogger Rachel said...

Isn't it just so pretentious of me to have the temerity to get blown up by a suicide bomber, to write about it, to find myself shoulder to shoulder with my fellow passengers then and after, and then, when politicians say they seek to pass abhorrent legislation 'for the victims' - to point out that - erm, you didn't ask me if an attack on my civil liberties and internment without trial was something that would make me feel better, before you co-opted my voice and the vioces of my fellow passengers for your own agenda ?

Tsk, those pesky off-message bomb victims, and their pretentious demands for due process, democracy and an end to the culture of fear. It's practically incitement to terrorism! Quick! Lock me up for 90 days!

Oh, you can't. Whoops.

November 09, 2005 6:16 p.m.  
Blogger MatGB said...

Tsk, those pesky off-message bomb victims, and their pretentious demands for due process, democracy and an end to the culture of fear. It's practically incitement to terrorism! Quick! Lock me up for 90 days!

Well said, and thank you very much for saying it. Living the other side of the country, it's hard to know how to react when someone trots out the whole "think of the victims" line.

I've now got a very solid response, you disagree with the whole stupidity as well.

(Here via Nosemonkey, but I'll be linking directly as well when I've finished reading the news round up).

November 09, 2005 7:48 p.m.  
Anonymous Forest Pines said...

I was disgusted by Tony Blair's patronising TV interview this evening, where he claimed that detention without trial actually *increases* our freedoms, because it preserves our freedom not to be attacked by terrorists.

November 09, 2005 7:54 p.m.  
Blogger red one said...

Well said Rachel, and thanks for saying it.


November 09, 2005 8:10 p.m.  
Blogger Chris said...


November 09, 2005 8:44 p.m.  
Blogger MuppetLord said...

Got here via Nosemonkey. Well stated.

November 09, 2005 10:02 p.m.  
Blogger Clare said...

Good on you Rachel.

November 09, 2005 10:22 p.m.  
Blogger Annie Mole said...

Rachel - once again you are spot on. Your writing is brilliant and the second Anonymous person is being really helpful with their inane comment.

Well done for having the strength to speak out in spite of all you have been through.

I have blogged part of your post on mine. Thank you.

November 10, 2005 1:01 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of these days you'll wonder what happened. The sad thing is it will be too late by then and you'll have lost the rights and freedoms that you have built up over the last nine centuries.

Wake up Britain, don't sleepwalk your way into a police state.

November 10, 2005 2:55 a.m.  
Blogger John said...

I am commenting this again, I think you may have overlooked it, because your site is still not in alignment yet.


John said...
Rachel, sorry to be off topic, but my daughter passed your blog on to me, to see if I could fix it for you.

The only problems I can see, after taking out the pictures, are;

BombsBombsBombsBombs needs to be made shorter;

And the link for... etc;

needs to be shortened to fit the blog space.

Give it a try and see if it comes into line.

PS. I love your blog.

November 10, 2005 4:15 a.m.  
Blogger LottieP said...

A piece in today's Guardian by John Tulloch on exactly this point:,12780,1638838,00.html


November 10, 2005 7:18 a.m.  
Blogger Geoff said...

Well put Rachel - The way that the government is trying to take away our liberties is truly frightening. Thank you for using your position to highlight the threats.

November 10, 2005 10:14 a.m.  
Anonymous Jon. Justice said...

Everything you say is true. Well done for saying it. And for those of us reading this: Have you made your views known to your elected representatives? Perhaps you should.

November 10, 2005 11:26 a.m.  
Anonymous Fin said...

Thankyou for writing this. I find the way people are debating this terrifiying and it's nice to know we still have balanced and rational viewpoints being heard. Incidentally, I agree wholeheartedly with what you said.

November 10, 2005 2:35 p.m.  
Blogger quarsan said...

hi rachel,

we blogged you as well as John Tulloch's comments on our Blairwatch

November 10, 2005 3:08 p.m.  
Blogger Adrian said...

Hi Rachel,
Found this post through Troubled Diva. Well said. And you handled yourself very well on the Jeremy Vine show.

In case it's useful, I've created (using RealClipGenerator) a link to point to just the segment of the show about the bill so it's easier for people to listen to. It'll work until next Wednesday when it'll get overwritten with next week's show.

November 10, 2005 5:06 p.m.  
Blogger Makki said...


your strength is an inspiration to us all thanks for putting it like i never could...


November 10, 2005 6:50 p.m.  
Anonymous Liss said...

Just listened to your radio interview and thought you were great - especially in the face of some lousy questioning.

November 10, 2005 7:07 p.m.  
Anonymous Septuagent said...

I have thrown in my twopennorth on my blog.

November 10, 2005 8:04 p.m.  
Blogger TheStarFromAfar said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog Rachel!

November 10, 2005 8:42 p.m.  
Blogger Brenda said...

While I find opposites hugely problematic, love & hate, us & terrorists, with the difficulties political power presents, and it's ultimately power over us all, it's a continuous battle against being dominated by autocratic rulers (even if they're elected). When a culture gives up fighting for freedom, oh. You are a guiding light; a beacon of sense in chaos; working from the warmth of your heart, and a fundamental belief in democracy. I laud you, as a survivor of the London bombings, as a beautiful and strong woman who's living her beliefs, as a writer who's using her talent to express a clear vision of the dangers of holding 'suspects' for 90 days without trial, and how that undermines the the very principles of the democracy it seeks to protect, thank you...

Congratulations on post of the week, too. -o)

November 14, 2005 1:34 p.m.  
Blogger Jack said...

As a survivor of the London bombings myself (I survived because I just didn't happen to be in London and on a train that day)I have to disagree with Rachel on this one.

I see nothing wrong with a 90 day detention.

These are exceptional cicumstances. Not for many years has such a threat faced Britain. During WW2, such detentions would have been commonplace. Like WW2, we have to be as alert, vigilant, and take unusual steps to preserve the security of the nation. That can't be done within the usual confines of a liberal judicial and governmental system.

Exceptional times always require exceptional steps.

I think we should listen to Blair, and listen to the police on this matter. They, after all, are the ones who have to deal with this problem head on.

November 16, 2005 10:14 p.m.  
Anonymous Oliver said...

This isn't WW2, Jack. Last I heard, there aren't hundreds of thousands of al-Qaida troops, tanks and planes just across the English Channel, waiting to invade. WE ARE NOT AT WAR, and Blair's hysterical talk of al-Qaida threatening to destroy Western civilization -- how, pray tell, are they going to succeed where Hitler, Hirohito and Stalin failed? -- is scaremongering designed solely to justifiy the erosion of civil liberties.

Good on you, Rachel!

November 16, 2005 11:34 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I won't repeat what everyone else is saying but feel moved to voice my agreement with your post. Even 28 days is too long.

I don't expect the new laws to be applied to me (certainly not in the foreseeable future), because I don't look foreign, but if history teaches us anything it's that repression of minorities usually spreads to everyone else and that it's everyone's responsibility to protect everyone's freedom.

November 17, 2005 12:46 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Jack. This may not be WW2, agreed, but we face an enemy who are determined to destroy the western world, and have had some success in doing so.

Should they be able to get hold of a nuclear device, for example, I have no doubt that they'd use it, for the purpose of killing more people that were killed in WW2.

I believe we shouldn't underestimate these people. We must allow the police to hold suspects during inquiries, and that may mean holding them for considerable periods.

November 17, 2005 2:51 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dropped in via the Guardian's Newsblog. It's a relief to read that there are other people equally incredulous at the prospect of 90 day detention. What is this Government coming to? Anyway, terrific post and excellent 'blog. When there is so much ill-informed opinion about it is heartening to read some intelligent, well-constructed comment. Please continue as long as you can, I'll be back. Simon E.

November 18, 2005 1:58 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the brits tried this in Northern Ireland in the 70s and look what happenned.
3 months without trial (90 days sounds shorter)

November 23, 2005 9:38 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a bomb survivor myself i agree with Jack. 90 days is right for the reasons he has posted. Im glad you made it clear you do NOT speak for all survivors.

November 24, 2005 12:14 a.m.  
Blogger Rachel said...

I've always, always made it 100% clear that I speak only for myself.

I wonder why on earth Tony Blair and Charles Clarke and The Sun EVER claimed that they spoke for all the survivors?

Ad I wonder why after 300 years, during which we were involved in 2 World Wars, and hundreds of thousands died, they did not need these 'Terror Laws?

And why, after one day in July, they think they need them now?

Of course I want to feel safe - but this isn't going to make life safer - it would not have saved me on 7/7 - not you, if you were there on that day, since the attack was not anticipated.

No difference at all. None.

November 24, 2005 2:07 a.m.  
Blogger Treglisson said...

Rachel, we read your story.....appalling. I also read the article in today's Sunday Times (18th Dec) and want to add to the comment in it, namely "thousands [were] hurt in ways that cannot be seen". This is a far bigger statement than that. My partner was at home in Cornwall and I was away working in Derbyshire when the news broke. Our reactions, hundreds of m iles away from London - apart from the appalling human cost - was the same. We felt raped, poisoned, hurt, brutalised....OUR city, OUR country...I am unable to imagine the intensity of those feelings of Londoners, but the ripple effects must not be underestimated. We HAVE to pursue this; I thought at first it wasn't really necessary - a bit ashamed now, after reading today's article. We MUST be told the truth, so that we too, out here on the periphery can heal too.

December 18, 2005 9:53 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As a survivor of the London bombings myself (I survived because I just didn't happen to be in London and on a train that day)"...

Cor. That's rather special, but why stop there? From now on, I think I shall style myself 'a survivor of the fall of Carthage', which I survived because I just didn't happen to have been born in north Africa twenty-odd centuries ago.

January 03, 2006 3:14 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the bombs were designed to remove entertainment industry debt by killing some dude called lucky
777 q it wasnt the enemies within.

March 05, 2007 2:39 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very true it is hard to understand what this country has become it would appear that the feel good factor has completely gone the only thing we can do is stand up for ourselves

May 12, 2007 9:39 p.m.  

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