Daily Archives: July 2, 2007


Queen’s Visit to Dundee

The new Education building at Dundee University does seem an excellent facility, and I was pleased to be there today when the Queen opened it. I am a firm republican, but have had the occasion to meet the Queen (I mean individually for conversation, not in a crowded room) a few times, and she is a very pleasant and above all conscientious person. An accident of birth should not make you Head of State, but neither is an accident of birth her fault personally.

I was particularly impressed by Tayside Police. I was very worried that, after recent events, security would be a nightmare, but in fact it was very thorough and very efficient while still being friendly and helpful. It really was well done.

It was, however, simply appalling that the Queen was not introduced to any students. Three student office bearers were placed firmly on the back seat of the thanksgiving service, but that was it. The Queen hobnobbed with the Chancellor and Principal and various other bigwigs, but evidently mere students were not considered important enough to be introduced (and this may be summer, but there are still plenty around). That is certainly different from previous Royal visits here and, while it does not surprise me from the current University administration, represents a severe dereliction by whichever of the Queen’s Private Secretaries agreed the programme.

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Terror Attacks

The link between the Glasgow and London bombs now appears to be fairly convincing, particularly as much of the confirmation is coming out of Scotland rather than from the discredited Met. What we have this time appears not to be home grown discontent, but more direct blowback from our Middle Eastern policy. I make no apologies for having noted at the start of this series of events that, while this was likely to be terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists, there were other possiblities and we should not straightaway jump to that conclusion. Those comments caused outrage among those who like to vilify Muslims at any opportunity, as a kind of sanctioned racism.

Now it does appear that Islamic extremists were indeed responsible for both Glasgow and London.

But my question cui bono? was also helpful in pointing out that these terrorist attacks are not only callous and inhuman, but extraordinarily stupid. Islamic terrorism fills those who hate Muslims with unholy glee. You only have to surf the internet for five minutes to prove that. At the same time it sends those of us who try to improve community relations, and it sends the established Muslim communities in the UK, into deep despair. Those in the security, weapons and mercenary industries who make billions from continued War are rubbing their hands and counting the cash.

How religious faith can lead people into such a mix of depravity and counter-productive stupidity is impossible for the sane to fathom, even acknowledging the depths of despair caused by the carnage our country has caused in Iraq. I can do nothing today but issue the anguished cry of the liberal in a brutal, unlistening World.

The only comfort, and this may be wishful thinking, is that the Brown government seems to be handling this all much more sensibly than Blair and Reid, without pushing the melodrama button or making fatuous comparisons with the Second World War. Which is not to say that we do not face yet another attack on civil liberties, but the attempt to stampede people with the psychology of fear does seem less marked. Or is that a false perception?

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Monitor Update

British Casualty Monitor have released their latest updates on UK casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet again, the upwards trend in the data shows just what an intractable situation the government has placed their armed forces in.

The Casualty Monitior project is currently working on providing a graphical anlaysis of Iraqi and Afghan casualties and, despite the immense problems and gaps with the available data, hope to update the site soon with this information.

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