I haven’t written here for a while, despite the embarras de richesses that has been presented to us in the news recently: Dame Stella saying that the UK is becoming a police state; drones will patrol the streets of Britain, watching our every move; databases are being built, containing all our electronic communications; ditto all our travel movements. What can a lone blogger usefully add to this? Only so much hot air – the facts speak for themselves.
Plus, I’ve been a bit caught up over the last couple of months with Operation Escape Pod. Not all of us are sitting around waiting for the prison gates to clang shut on the UK. I’m outta here!
But I can’t resist an interesting article in The Spectator magazine this week. And that’s a sentence I never thought I would write in my life.
Tim Shipman, quoting a plethora of anonymous intelligence sources and former spooks, asserts that Britain’s foreign policy is being skewed by the need to placate our intelligence allies, and that the CIA is roaming free in the wilds of Yorkshire.
His sources tell him that the UK is a “swamp” of Islamic extremism, and that the domestic spies are terrified that there will be a new terrorist atrocity, probably against US interests but it could be anywhere, carried out by our very own home-grown terrorists. According to Shipman, this terrible prospect had all the spooks busily downing trebles in the bars around Vauxhall Cross in the wake of the Mumbai bombings.
Apart from the suggestion that the spies’ drinking culture appears to be as robust as ever, I find this interesting because well-sourced spook spin is more likely to appear in the august pages of The Speccie than in, say, Red Pepper. But if this is an accurate reflection of the thinking of our politicians and intelligence community, then this is an extremely worrying development. It goes a long way to explaining why the UK has become the most policed state in the Western world.
Yes, in the 1990s the UK practised a strategy of appeasement towards Islamic extremists. MI5’s view was always that it was better to give radicals a safe haven in the UK, which they would then be loathe to attack directly, and where a close eye could be kept on them.
This, of course, was derailed by Blair’s Messianic mission in the Middle East. By unilaterally supporting Bush’s adventurism in Afghanistan and Iraq, in the teeth of stark warnings about the attendant risks from the head of MI5, Britain has become “the enemy” in the eyes of radical Islam. The gloves are off, and we are all at greater risk because of our former PM’s hubris.
But now we apparently have free-range CIA officers infiltrating the Muslim communities of the UK. No doubt Mossad is also again secretly tolerated, despite the fact that they had been banned for years from operating in the UK because they were too unpredictable (a civil service euphemism for violent).
And I am willing to bet that this international perception that UK spooks will be caught off-guard by an apparently British-originated terrorist attack is the reason for the slew of new totalitarian laws that are making us all suspects. The drones, the datamining and the draconian stop-and-search laws are designed to reassure our invaluable allies in the CIA, Mossad, ISI and the FSB. They will not be put in place to “protect” us.