Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, whose inspiring speech on 7th July did so much to draw London together, accused the London Assembly of ''nit-picking'' yesterday. For heaven's sake, Ken, they were not picking nits, they were picking out ways in which lives could be saved and suffering spared by improving communication. Which, it has to be said, was chaotic and at times, appalling. And the brave and compassionate men and women of the London Underground, the police, the emergency services and the many ordinary citizens of London were rightly praised for their courage and calmness. We held it together, all of us, all of London, many lives were saved. People did their best, and they did phenomenally well, at full stretch, in the midst of chaos and carnage.

Everyone has said that. The reports said that, the survivors interviewed said that. So it is not fair to portray this as nit-picking. Or whinging.

What is being criticised - the aim simply being to learn useful lessons from it - is the failures of planning and communication. It is not acceptable to not have radios that don't work underground, eighteen years after this fault was highlighted in the Kings Cross fire disaster. It is not a good idea to let thousands of witnesses who need care, who may have breathed-in god-knows-what, and whose testimony may be vital in a massive murder investigation, wander off into the street, in shock, without taking down their details.

I have not heard survivors calling for blame to apportioned, or people to be sacked, in the emergency services, or the intelligence services or the police.

What I have heard is people asking for a simple public interrogation of the facts so that people, organisations, official departments can then share the learnings with each other, and so help to stop suffering and save lives in the future. I will be thrilled when I can go on holiday and disappear into obscurity. I do not want to be Rachel North Bomb Victim for my whole life. I am banging on and on because I have been asked to, and because I am desperate to get something positive out of this. Show me that lessons are being learned, sort out an independent enquiry and I will happily shut up.

I do not want others to go through what we have gone through. It's too late for 52 innocent passengers, but we might be able to make other journeys safer. I object to repressive, ill-thought-out legislation being drafted, and, insultingly, passed by politicians in the name of the victims, who have not actually been consulted as to whether they think it will actually do any good, (as if our views should be worth more than any other voters' views, anyway). This is not good government. This is panicking.

Before we go shredding the fabric of the constitution, before our leaders rush about with snappy soundbites about the ''rules having changed'', can we not all pause, breathe, and have a sensible independent review of what can be learned from a real example of a terror attack? It's good management practice, after all - analyse success and failure and share the learnings and apply the lessons and resource accordingly. It's a damn sight more sensible than wasting billions on ID cards, that's for sure. Sheesh.


Anonymous Kathryn Gilkison said...

I agree Rachel. The report is the first concrete information that we have all had. To me, having lost my duaghter at Russel Square, I am still let not knowing who treated her, who declared her dead. Was it a passer by, the Underground Rescue Team. Like other, I know she gave her name before she died. This was not recorded. It is not good enough to hid behind beuracracy. A communicaiton sytem must be established that works underground. Assembly points must be clearly obvious to passengers. Systems for collating people's names must be put in place. It is appalling that so many survivors are unknown, and struggling with the effects of this disaster. It is not about blame, but come on, there are obvious holes in the system so wide that 800 survivors have been lost. That any of the seriously injured survived is credit to the goodwill of those inovlved. I think my daughter did not have a chance. Had there been systems in place maybe she would have. But we will never know. This must not be allowed to ahppen again. The people of London, residents, non residents and toursists, have a right to expect better.
Take care.

June 07, 2006 1:08 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you Kathryn,

I will be in touch over the weekend, much love


June 08, 2006 10:35 am  

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