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Home > Politics

John Reid: New Levels of Twattery

3 November 2006

John Reid is one of those politicians who manages to surprise by continually plumbing new depths of inanity. He's a bit like Edwina Currie in that respect - you thought Edwina had reached a low ebb in her career with the salmonella debacle, then she went on to write 'raunchy' novels with horrible, horrible sex scenes, and turned out to have been shagging John Major to boot. Wow.

This week Reid, already known for turning a police terror raid into a photo opportunity and making hamfisted attempts to engage 'the Muslim community', made more horribly crass comments at a 'launch' of new anti-terror technology. The technology in question is stuff like explosives and weaponry detectors. Ingenious items, no question, but the sheer irony of a government minister enthusing about some kit that *might* avert *some* terrorist attacks, when his very own government has managed to increase the risk of those attacks, was an Alice in Wonderland moment of illogic at which one could only really marvel.

When it comes to governments' pronouncements on terror, people are keen to make comparisons with Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty Four' - where the population accepts a dictatorship because they're kept in a permanent state of fear - but they're missing the point. Big Brother's propaganda is calculated and deliberate - the perpetual state of war is expressly intended to manipulate the masses. With Blair's government, it seems more the case that they accidentally wandered into the War on Terror by mistake. Which is actually somehow worse.

However, it wasn't really that which got our goat. It was the way Reid praised the technology by comparing it to the achievements of Barnes Wallis (inventor of the bouncing bomb and designer of the robust airframe of the Wellington bomber) and Alan Turing (a pioneer in computing whose mathematical skills were the basis of cracking the Enigma code, used by German U-boats in World War 2).

Reid said: 'In a sense it is a recall of the innovators of the past. Just as in the past innovators such as Barnes Wallis, Alan Turing and Tommy Flowers [who worked with Turing at Bletchley Park] were vital in our battle to beat the Nazis, so now we must be able to use the skills and expertise of all in our battle against Terror.'

Oh you utter utter cunt, Reid. Where to begin with this shit? The War on Terror is *nothing* like World War 2. It's the most ridiculous comparison imaginable, save perhaps for comparing it with the Battle for Narnia. Islamic terrorism appears to stem from a loose global network of extremists. It's not an army, much less a state, and we're certainly not locked in a war for national survival. Here at TFT we're hardly dewy-eyed WW2 enthusiasts ('You could leave your front door unlocked in them days! Because the Richardson gang had already robbed what little of value you owned.') but it's an insult to anyone who lived through the war to compare it with today's terror threat. Come to think of it, it's also an insult to people who were killed, maimed, wounded or lost friends and family in the London bombings, because WW2 was largely unavoidable (the Nazis were notoriously careless about observing even their own non-aggression pacts, as Stalin discovered) while the War on Terror has been massively exacerbated by the entirely optional invasion of Iraq.

As for invoking Wallis, Turing and Flowers, it's the most shameless use of the dead (who, handily, aren't around to have an opinion on current events) by hitching their memories to your own little photo opportunity. Yeuch. Were they alive, they'd no doubt applaud the efforts of anyone who has invented better anti-terrorist technology, but whether the people who played a vital part in destroying the Ruhr Dams and saving thousands of ships from U-boats respectively would have wanted to be bracketed with companies who've essentially built better Semtex detectors is open to question.

Good old John Reid. Not only does he respond to the terror threat with crass triumphalism about British industry, he also manages to make woefully inappropriate comparisons with genuine innovators and the worst war the world has ever had the misfortune to experience. Maybe he should have just gone the whole hog and said 'Al Qaeda - we shall fight them on the beaches!'



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