Our trustworthy and truthful ( http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/17/id_register_entries/) Home Secretary has finally set the record straight recording dangerous "armed anarchists" who were searched by Gloucestershire police under anti-terror legislation at RAF Fairford, which is used as a B52 base, last year. Pride of place in the armoury of the drug-crazed Trotskyite crusties, apparently, was an airborne terror weapon, a kite.
David Blunkett has spent over a year bobbing and weaving about the Fairford demo, from the point last year when, in an answer to David Winnick MP ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmhaff/1088/3091104.htm) in evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, he justified the deployment of terror powers at Fairford by describing the "weapons" in the following terms: "I am talking about cudgels and swords. I am not talking about machine guns and ground-to-air missiles."
The notion that peace demonstrators had arrived at a demo tooled-up with cudgels and swords seemed improbable to practically everyone bar Blunkett (and possibly Gloucestershire police) at the time. Bolt cutters, maybe, pepper sprays in the possession of the more unruly elements you might be able to get your head around, but cudgels? A rational human being, having come up with a mispeak of this order, would surely climb down as rapidly and with as much dignity as possible, but not our David, oh no.
Since coming up with his initial weird claim Blunkett has been harried in Parliament but has steadfastly failed to climb down, just last month offering the slight concession ( http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2004-11-10.737W.3&m=1004)that the "range of items seized from the protesters... did not include cudgels." Ah, but what about the swords? Lynne Jones MP persisted, and yesterday hit the jackpot.
Asked how many times stop and search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 were used by police in the vicinity of Fairford during 6 March to 27 April 2003, Blunkett replied that 2,254 stop-searches had been conducted. Asked whether swords were seized from protesters under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 1994, and whether any weapons were seized under section 44, Blunkett replied that a range of items had been seized under section 60. " Contrary to my understanding at the time, I now understand that these did not include swords. During the security operation at RAF Fairford, police took items from 28 people as a result of searches that were conducted under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. These included a kite, white powder, controlled drugs, cameras and camera equipment, and a scanner" (full text here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmhansrd/cm041213/text/41213w14.htm#column_841).
As Home Secretary David Blunkett is responsible for the authorisation of police use of section 44 stop and search powers, and, therefore, should perhaps re-examine his evaluation criteria. As part of his answer to David Winnick last year, Blunkett said: " I would entirely support—having investigated their actions—the use of the counter-terror legislation in relation to preventing people with potentially dangerous weapons and with intent from achieving their goal without being stopped and searched and dealt with appropriately. The information on websites and on the network news on the intent and objective which was displayed by some of those on their way to Fairford was a dangerous situation which could have got out of hand, not least in terms of obviously having to protect not just those on the base but the materials and equipment that were being dispatched at the time... I think the balance is crucial if people are to have confidence when we do use the legislation, either the Terrorism Act on the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act, and we need to use it."
So David, about this balance. And the kite...
The latest (NB we haven't checked for 20 minutes, so it might not be) Blunkett-inspired crime/violence crackdown relates to knife crime, and supportive Prime Minister Tony Blair helped Blunkett announce this one in his constituency last week, proposing to raise the age at which knives can be bought to 18. Yesterday's Parliamentary Questions also shed a little light on this. Asked about the number of offences there had been involving knives, Home Office Minister Caroline Flint said that this information was not collected centrally, but offered details from the Homicide Index on the number of homicides committed with "a sharp instrument". These were 214 in 2000-2001, 262 in 2001-2002, and 272 in 2002-2003. These numbers would no doubt include any murders involving knives wielded by youths, but would also include domestics involving carving knives or similar, and would not include crimes involving knives used for wounding, robbery, anything else. Basically, the Home Office has no data whatsoever to back up its case on knife crime (see also: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/09/weapons_scanner_psyops/).
John Lettice (reposted by Kite Jihad)