I don’t get ranty very often, but the anti-rant barrier broke this morning as I listened to the mouthings on Yesterday in Parliament on BBCRadio 4.
The Olympic Games security plan looks poorly planned and executed, so further military personnel have been brought in to help.
Several points: Thank goodness we have professional, well-disciplined forces we can draw on. Thank goodness they are highly trained and experienced in dealing with civilians under stress. Thank goodness they are not the pitiless troops of some African warlord who corrupts and kills children. Instead, we have citizen soldiers, well respected by 98% of the community.
The press has a weird attitude. They love being amongst soldiers, borrowing their lifestyle and perceived glamour for a few hours. They mouth words like “assets” and “inflitration”, wear camouflage jackets and armoured vests as they pop in to do a piece from Afghanistan. War zones are dirty, noisy and scary as hell, but the military make the press welcome and show more the cameraderie and dedication than the relentless pressure and sheer slog of military life.
On the other hand, the press bitches about the impact these “tough and dangerous troops” are going to have on the Olympic visitors. Me, I’d feel a lot safer with them on the gate than being checked by some bored bloke or girl doing a few weeks’ work after a short course in ticking boxes with a private company. Maybe that’s harsh on the security company, but you get the idea.
And whatever the merits of the criticism about the security plan, I feel depressed and angry when opposition MPs and the press project soldiers as threatening or intimidating just to score points. They are there to protect us. And don’t get me started on the moans about having strategic artillery points in normally civilian areas. They are there to protect us. Those positions on top of tall buildings could be the one chance of stopping some mad terrorist’s incoming threat. Some say the military’s presence will attract terrorists – the residents wil become targets. No, if terrorists were planning a strike, they would come anyway. And the biggest moaners would be the first to complain if they were attacked and no such provision had been made.
The UK is still on a high threat level. The Olympics are a golden opportunity for terrorists to strike as well as a superb chance for 99.5% of us to watch world class sport of every kind.
A government’s prime duty is to protect its citizens. What they are proposing is a light touch. It really is. You won’t see most of the security measures in place and won’t have noticed the huge preparation that has gone on for many years before. The security organisations, military and police are working hard to protect all visitors to the games so the latter don’t have to be concerned, but can relax and enjoy them.
The security is there to protect you. It may be personally irritating, but it’s collectively a shield. Grow up and deal with it.