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The Andrew Goff Column



Air passengers throughout the UK have had their travel plans thrown into chaos today by a serious terrorist threat apparently aimed at ten transatlantic flights. Two people from Birmingham are among 21 arrested by police investigating an alleged plot which Home Secretary John Reid says would have caused civilians deaths on an “unprecedented scale.” Passengers at Birmingham International were among those affected by severe delays, but Andy Goff is waiting to see the evidence…

Great! We're told that the security threat has been raised to critical.

Recovering alcoholic John Reid has spoken; grave faced, and told us the police have foiled a plot to blow up planes. Thanks John, I feel so reassured.

The police later said there were no specific plans for an attack todaybut they had made arrests following a lengthy covert operation.

If there really was a plan then it's possible there was need to take swift action, prompting the arrests.

So the security action at British Airports is understandable.

But don't get too carried away with the news that 21 people have been arrested - including two in Birmingham.

We have to keep an open mind until any case comes to court.

What we do know is that if past performance is any guide, there is a good chance that they will all be released and we will learn later that there was no plot.

Out of over 890 arrests under terrorism laws between September 11th 2001 and 30th September 2005 only twenty three people have so far been convicted.

I always ask, when grave government ministers strut their stuff on TV, po faced, using grand-eloquence to convince us that they are in control, what are they taking off the front pages?

Of course we expect to be kept informed of these kind of threats, but do we have to be fed this in a “Thunderbirds are Go” kind of way.

I bet ministers and spin doctors toy with using background music at news conferences to add even greater gravitas.

Teletext today reported that Prime Minister Blair, ensconced in his Caribbean love nest, has fully briefed President Bush. Wow! Anything could happen in the next half hour!

Nice they are so cosy when they are the cause of the threat to Britain in the first place.

Not so cosy for us at home who have to deal with fear, chaos and mistrust.


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