Please, please, no overreaction to the bombs

‘Britain under siege’ suggests the tabloids after three bomb incidents over the space of 72 hours. A Labour baroness, on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House says that she had been opposed to all the extra security, but now agrees it is necessary. It takes a Libdem, Paddy Ashdown, to point out that this is nonsense since most of the security measures are palliatives, aimed at keeping the police busy and the public appeased.
The truth, which no government politician has the guts to articulate, is that the sort of attack which, fortunately, failed over the past few days is impossible to protect against. New security measures will merely paralyse transport networks rather than do anything to protect people against terrorist attacks.
The introduction of extra security is always a reaction to the last type of attack. We are still asked at airports whether we packed our own bags, because supposedly the Lockerbie outrage was caused by someone taking on board a cassette radio they had been given by the bombers. But it is a daft question to which no one is going to answer in the affirmative. People are simply not stupid enough to take on such items and if they were, then the baggage is screened anyway.
Similarly, the ridiculous extent to which liquids are now controlled when boarding aircraft is a total overreaction and seems designed mostly to boost sales in airside shops. I will believe that they are serious security measures when cutlery, glasses and glass bottles are banned from inside cabins.
The incident at Glasgow airport threatens to lead to a whole new range of restrictions. Yet, like the car bombs in central London, these types of attack are unstoppable without massive added security. The authorities cannot stop cars driving near airports or other potential targets. But watch, now, for thousands of concrete bollards and other ‘protection’ springing up, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions and doing no good whatsoever.
It is dishonest for the government to pretend that these attacks can be stopped. They must be put in perspective. Terrorism kills very few people in this country, far fewer than other preventable dangers such as road deaths. Let’s just keep calm and ride this one out without any added security measures or, worse, legislation. Somehow we survived the IRA without terrorism becoming a threat to our civil liberties. The same should apply now.

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