Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sleight of Hand???

Once more, police have managed to halt an imminent terrorist threat. Once more, the news has been dominated by tales of Islamic extremism and threats to our way of life. Once more, hysteria has replaced judgement and facts have been have been sidelined by allegations.

In June last year, we faced similar blanket coverage of a terrorist threat in Forest Gate. After the initial media outcry of terrorists in our midst, it transpired that the protagonists were entirely innocent of the accusations levelled at them by the press and the media. The police even apologised for the ‘hurt’ they caused the two men at the heart of the media storm. However, thanks to papers like The Sun, the men’s reputations were permanently damaged by the allegations. Now, it looks like we are seeing a repeat of this media storm all over again.

Now, I know the police have to follow up investigations and blah, blah, blah, but they have a history of getting things wrong. When you create an environment whereby we are surrounded by ‘terrorists’, it is very easy for the police to get a little jumpy and make rash decisions. The problem is, these rash decisions reflect in the unquestioning media, who then proceed to destroy reputations on a whim. Having said that, it seems to depend on the colour of the skin as to which terrorist activity should be covered (as we saw last year with the chemical explosives story that was widely ignored in the press). Essentially, the media are still playing judge and jury with a story we know very little about.

What makes this story all the more interesting, is the developments in the cash for honours question. It seems a touch suspicious that the day before the press published the story about Blair’s second interview, the Home Office are behind a major terrorist raid. Furthermore, Blair’s interview actually took place last Friday. Which begs the question, why was this kept out of the public domain?

Now, I am no great believer in conspiracy theories (I’ll leave that to the right-wing loony brigade), but this sequence of events is manna from heaven for the conspiracy nuts, so much so, it is almost too believable (particularly as this government has a history of manipulating the media). Why wait until after a ‘major’ terrorist plot is unveiled, before releasing this kind of information to the public?? Sleight of hand? Or an innocent coincidence? Who knows, but given the background of the New Labour debacle, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the whole thing was an attempt to divert attention from the corruption that is at the heart of this discredited regime.