Thursday, June 01, 2006

Waiting for the 7 July Report

Sorry I have not blogged much. Work is madly busy, the campaign for an independent public enquiry is hotting up, and answering enquiries about the lack of an enquiry is taking up a lot of time. You'll hear me and others talking a lot about this in the next few weeks. Monday sees the publication of the London Assembly 7th July Review Committee report; with harrowing testimony from thirty or so survivors, plus the emergency services, communications providers and other key people from the day. This is the first, the only public interrogation of the facts so far, and the report ( which will be a lot longer than the Narrative or the ISC report) was produced by a cross party committee, with very modest resources and a strictly limited remit ( two full time staff shared the job as well as well as other duties.) ''It is not,'' in the words of the Chair Richard Barnes, ''intended to be a substitute for a full public enquiry''. The Committee began investigating in September; they produced a report of well over a hundred pages ten months later. If the local London Assembly can do this, then why the bloody hell can't the national Government manage something? When asked this by survivors, Dr Reid kept talking about the Bloody Sunday enquiry - a cumbersome leviathan of a legal bun-fest. Why pick on such an extreme? ( ha, rhetorical question). Do the Government have so little confidence in their ability to hold a reasonable public enquiry or independent enquiry that comes in on time and on budget and reassures the public that they are doing and learning all they can to protect us? Why do we have to be content with a series of pamphlets produced behind closed doors as a result of ''internal enquiries'' - by people appointed by the Prime Minister - that manage to find nobody to blame and outrageously manage to mention the bloody Iraq war not at all, even to dismiss it as a radicalising factor in the bombers? We are exhorted not to be afraid, by Ministers with body guards who work in buildings protected by concrete bollards and armed police, who are driven to work in armoured cars - then in the same breath we are told we face grave threats, and must surrender our civil liberties and carry I.D as we last did as a temporary measure in a time of threatened enemy invasion and ariel bombardment from weapons of mass destruction and nerve gas fears; we must submit to ever more intrusive surveillance, lest one of us, maddened beyond endurance, should self-detonate outside the one mile exclusion zone around Parliament Square.

What the hell is there to be afraid of? You tell me. I get on the tube. I am afraid. But I need to get to work. I'm not in charge of protecting the nation. Is keeping your job more important than saving innocent lives and sparing suffering? The survivors and bereaved I have spoken with have said that it is not about blame, but can nobody in Government see further than a possible threat to their own career? Can anyone in power really say they have listened and they have learned and they have acted on what they have learned? I don't know. Nobody does.

The London Assembly report will detail in page after page the chaos after the carnage, the communication breakdowns, the harrowing testimony of those who held dying strangers and called out for rescuers that were held back from entering tunnels because of ''protocol'', the desperate attempts of ordinary people to help each other in the confusion, the heroism of individuals, police officers, fire officers, and other emergency service workers and London Underground staff. It will also ask questions and make recommendations. It will state the fears of so many that nothing has changed, little has been learned. Are we any safer - or are we less safe than we were a year ago?

Your thoughts would be appreciated...after all, you're the public, you're the target, and you're the ones walking the streets, and travelling on public transport, in London, and everywhere else. Do you feel confident that all the lessons have been learned from last summer? Do you think we'd cope any better with another 7th July? And if the answer is yes, then I'm pleased, and envious - but I wonder if you will still feel the same after the news on Monday.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Security services need to organise themselves less than the services dealing with the response. It was useless. 'Protocol.' There needs to be realistic communication between the Security services and the rest of London.
There might have been since the event?
I don't think a public enquiry will do a thing to bring that about , it's alot of admin and timewasting.
How do you know Londons in danger anyway?
Will you have an enquiry for a bomb in Guildford or some remote village.

June 01, 2006 12:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Want to know why it happened: read 'The Suicide Factory: Abu Hamza and the Finsbury Park Mosque', and the answers will stare you in the face. See:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2205344.html

June 01, 2006 1:25 pm  
Anonymous Antipholus Papps said...

I will not feel safe until every member of the criminal Blair regime is behind bars. Their lies and violence caused this atrocity and they will continue exploiting it to justify further aggression and oppression unless we stop them. Personally, I think every person in this country who wants to end this country's alarmingly quick descent into totalitarianism should join Brian Haw in Parliament Square - just sit down and refuse to leave until Blair has been arrested.

June 01, 2006 1:30 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

If 56 died and 700 are injured, then I'd want an enquiry - wherever in the UK it happened!

June 01, 2006 1:33 pm  
Blogger Tony Ferguson said...

Rachel - no I don't feel confident that all the lessons have been learnt although I am equally sure that some will have been learnt.

The real problem with this stuff as I see it is that organisations have a natural tendency to look inward and throw up protective walls around themselves. Within individual organisations some lessons will have been learnt. Once you start looking at issues to do with processes, procedures and communications between different organisations then I am less confident.

Without a Public Enquiry I would assume that there will be some issues which will not have been raised in the appropriate place to ensure they get fixed and many issues which are known about in some places but which are also not being fixed.

The other problem which gets in the way of all this is "national security". I was the councillor responsible for Public Protection in West Berkshire from 2001 to 2003. This included the period when we went to war in Iraq and when contingencies were being planned for should some disaster hit London and I was often told that I could not be briefed on issues because of "national security". Doubtless this still continues today and no doubt affects not just Councillors but also I suspect Members of Parliament. This makes it very difficult for elected representatives to hold these organisations to account. There is of course a need for some things to be kept "secret" but in this country it tends to be an instinct without any rational thought being applied. I am put in mind of the fact that for many years the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston did not appear on the Ordnance Survey maps to "stop the Russians from finding it"!

June 01, 2006 1:51 pm  
Blogger Dave Hodgkinson said...

This government tells us that if we've nothing to hide, we shouldn't worry about ID cards.

If they've got nothing to hide, surely they've nothing to fear from a public enquiry.

June 01, 2006 5:33 pm  
Blogger Don't Call Me Ishmael said...

Well I'm not a UK resident but I think that if the British government wants to prove that lessons WERE learnt, why hasn't a new response plan been drawn up and made available for the public to understand? I don't see how they can claim lessons have been learned when obviously the security forces weren't prepared, for example, for the July 21 bombings. No one knew it was going to happen, nothing was done to stop 4 people from setting explosions off on the public transport and everyone was incredibly lucky that the bombs didn't fully detonate. Yes, they caught the men who did it but in a real suicide bombing the situation won't exist to say, "yes, we caught all the bad guys, no one was hurt, and now we've proved we know exactly what to do." The local and national governments need to come up with a revised plan that will help the survivors and the bereaved. At the very least they should least demonstrate that they will be able to take down people's names and phone numbers properly. I mean REALLY!!

~marina

June 01, 2006 6:41 pm  
Blogger Numeral said...

On 'protocols'. It is hardly suprising that managers of the LAS and LFB will not allow their staff to go into hazardous situations without assurance that there are no secondary devices present. The issue is that such clearance would not be given for hours or, possibly, days in the circumstances of July 7. It would be worth trying to establish to which sites the Bomb Squad was called. It seems that controlled explosions may have been carried out Tavistock Square and Edgware Road.

In the end the people present acted on their own initiative or at the prompting of survivors.

June 01, 2006 8:19 pm  
Anonymous seth said...

hi rachel,

too bad i cant sign the petition as im not a british citizen.

btw the newspapers here in ny are up in arms over us homeland security secretary chertoff's decision to REDUCE ny's share of terror funding by 40% and give it to such places as wyoming,wisconsin and nebraska. they say that nyc has "no momuments or icons of significant national importance" gee wasnt the world trade center one? how about the empire state building? or wall street? and what about our subways-our version of the london underground and many more. who is he kidding? what kind of dream world is he and the us dept of homeland security living in? the papers have asked their readers to FLOOD the secretary's office with postcards of the brooklyn bridge,empire state building,etc with the caption,"this isnt a monument or icon"? sheesh

hope u and j r well.

seth :)

June 03, 2006 7:11 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Sheesh indeed seth. That's mad!

Of course you can sing the petition. I should hav ethought more about the wording. London is a world city; there were people of every nationality on that train.

J and I are well, how are you?
x

June 03, 2006 8:15 pm  
Anonymous seth said...

hi rachel,

i shall go back to the petition link and happily sign it,probably tomorrow or monday.

im good,summer has unofficially started in the u.s. as of monday may 29.weather was great last weekend,since friday nite we have had rain and cold temperatures.

i started a new job last month and am finally getting accustomed to it.i hope that this week goes by fast;next weekend ill be away from ny for 2 days.

btw last nites simpsons episode on fox was the one about the simpsons visiting london :)-yup ruppert m owns it along with the fox news channel- i dont know if u guys get u.s. networks in london-and the ny post which is our answer to the london sun- alas without "page 3"-shucks (grin).

btw did u hear that the royal canadian mounted police (RCMP) just busted up a terror cell in ontario that may have links to AL-QUEDA? sheesh what a world we are living in.

ta ta for now,

seth :)

June 04, 2006 4:20 am  
Anonymous seth said...

hi rachel,
i just signed the petition. seth

June 04, 2006 4:31 am  

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