London Underground terror and Conservative austerity

This British TV video says about itself:

Witnesses describe Parsons Green Tube bombing

15 September 2017

People caught up in the terrorist incident at Parsons Green station in London have described scenes of panic after the “huge fireball” hit a commuter tube train.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

London terror attack: Station staff save lives – job cuts kill

Saturday 16th September 2017

8.20 Bomb goes off on 8.20 London Tube line 9.30 Planned announcement of TfL jobs cull is quietly spiked

A TERRORIST attack on the London Underground yesterday led transport unions to warn that Tory-led cuts are putting lives in danger.

The explosion on a District Line train at Parsons Green occurred just over an hour before transport bosses had been due to announce the extension of a job cuts programme. Passengers described how a blast from what looked like “a bucket of mayonnaise” sent a “fireball” and a “wall of flame” through the carriages, triggering scenes of chaos and panic.

Scores of passengers were injured in the “uncontrolled evacuation” of the train. A total of 22 patients were treated in hospital, with a number suffering from burns.

Police confirmed they were treating the incident as a terror attack.

Transport for London (TfL) had planned to confirm more ticket office closures and further reductions in station staffing as part of “modernisation” plans for the Tube, but the announcement was shelved following the attack, in which a device exploded on a packed train at 8.20am during rush hour.

Rail unions RMT and TSSA have led a campaign against the closures and vowed that they will not allow safety standards to be jeopardised or stations left unstaffed.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the new TfL plans bore a striking similarity to its Fit For The Future programme, which led to cuts and industrial action by rail unions.

Mr Cash said: “The incident shows once again that Tube staff are the first responders in emergency situations and the clear need for safety and security to remain the number one priority and for the resources and staffing to be in place to deal with all eventualities.”

Theresa May condemned the attack as “cowardly” and said there had been an obvious attempt to cause serious harm.

The PM praised the emergency services and said: “We do need to ensure we are dealing with not just the terrorist threat but with the extremism and the hate that can actually incite that terrorism.

“That is why we are looking very carefully at the powers that our police and security services have to make sure they have the powers they need.”

However, London Mayor Sadiq Khan argued that the attack highlighted the case for additional funding of the police.

He said: “Today may not be the day to say this at the Cobra meeting, but I’m not going to resile from what I’ve been saying over the last 16 months, which is that London needs more resources to keep our city safe.

“Since 2010, we’ve lost hundreds of millions of pounds from the police budget, we’ve had to reduce police staff, we’ve had to sell off police stations.

“It’s simply not possible for a global city like London to carry on keeping our citizens, visitors and businesses safe if the government carries on making the cuts they’ve been making.”

Just a month ago, transport unions warned of potential terrorist attacks on Britain’s rail networks after Isis’s monthly magazine published detailed instructions how to derail passenger trains and urged attacks on packed platforms.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said the union’s thoughts were with those affected by the explosion and he praised emergency workers and rail staff for helping to evacuate passengers.

“Our union has long been concerned that we are not doing all we can to maximise safety on our Tube and on London’s public transport network. That’s why I have asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan to call a London transport security summit over the coming week,” he said.

TSSA confirmed that it had highlighted its specific security concerns in a paper given to London Underground (LU) bosses.

“Our members have been telling LU for months and years that the Tory-led cuts are undermining staff and passenger safety and security,” a union circular seen by the Star states.

It confirmed that bosses had refused to discuss the issue and said: “Unfortunately, it takes a major incident to concentrate minds.”

TSSA said the incident highlighted the need for unions to be engaged on safety and security issues where there is a shared responsibility.

London attack: Teenager arrested at Dover port in connection with Parsons Green Tube bombing: here. So far, we don’t know what this arrested teenager may have had to do with the bombing, what were motives, etc.

This video from London, England says about itself:

15 September 2017

Eyewitnesses of the Parsons Green tube terror attack recounted the moments that a device exploded on a train at the underground Tube Station, Friday.

At least 18 people are believed to have been injured in the attack that took place on the District Line.

Platform passenger Sally Faulding described the moments before the explosion, “we had just arrived, and I just dived out [of the way] myself – not really knowing what I was running from.”

“I just suddenly saw lots of people just running towards me – in panic mode”.

By Steve James in Britain:

Bomb attack on London Underground sets stage for further state repression

16 September 2017

The explosion of a suspected homemade bomb on a packed Underground commuter train in southwest London Friday morning has become the occasion for a massive police and intelligence operation.

Before anything about the origins of the attack aboard a train at Parsons Green station had officially been made public, the government called a meeting of its COBRA emergency committee. The meeting was convened in the afternoon amid speculation that the UK’s terrorism threat level could be raised from “severe” to “critical”—the highest level. Late Friday evening, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May announced in a televised statement that the threat level was being raised to critical for an undefined period.

She stated, “For this period, military personnel will replace police officers on guard duties at certain protected sites that are not accessible to the public,” adding, “The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets…” Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said this would free up 1,000 armed police officers for use on the streets.

Earlier, May seized the opportunity to push for more surveillance powers, declaring, “[W]e are looking very carefully at the powers that our police and security service have to make sure they have the powers they need,” while “working with the Internet companies.”

She also announced a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron “to talk about what more we can be doing to ensure that we deal with the terrorist propaganda, with the extremist propaganda, with the hatred that is put out across the Internet.”

During the evening, Islamic State [ISIS] claimed responsibility for the attack via its news agency.

The rush hour attack appears to have been deliberate and indiscriminate. Passengers close by reported hearing a loud bang and seeing a “wall of flame” coming down the train. A number of people suffered burns, while others were injured in the panicked rush that followed the explosion, as commuters scrambled to exit the station.

The London Ambulance Service reported that 29 people were taken to hospital, mostly with flash burns. As of early Friday evening, 21 were still receiving treatment at Imperial, Chelsea and Westminster, and St George’s hospitals.

One passenger spoke of a seeing a burning “white builder’s bucket” in a supermarket bag, with “a lot of wires hanging out of it.” Images and videos circulating on social media appeared to confirm this.

The Daily Mail and other sources said the wires appeared to be fairy lights, which have been used in homemade explosive devices in the past. It appears that the “bucket bomb” device did not explode as intended. Later reports stated the device had a timer of some sort, and a circuit board was recovered from the scene.

Another eyewitness heard a “large bang on the other side of the tube train,” then a “really hot, intense fireball” flew above his head, singeing his hair. He saw people with facial burns.

Another told the Guardian: “Suddenly there was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming, lots of screaming.” He continued, “I saw crying women, there was lots of shouting and screaming, there was a bit of a crush on the stairs going down to the streets. Some people got pushed over and trampled on.”

A woman, Emma Stevie, who was on the train when the explosion happened, described being caught in a “human stampede” as people tried to escape from the train. “I wedged myself in next to a railing, I put myself in the fetal position. There was a pregnant woman underneath me, and I was trying really hard not to crush her. I saw a poor little boy with a smashed-in head and other injuries. It was horrible.”

Transport services were badly disrupted. Train service on the District Line, which crosses the entire width of London, was suspended between Wimbledon and Edgware Road stations. The entire line was subsequently shut down. Roads around Parsons Green station were closed, and bus routes terminated.

Police immediately launched a major operation with a huge manhunt. The incident, initially handled by the British Transport Police, was handed over to the Metropolitan Police’s SO15 anti-terror unit and declared to be terrorist-related. Police, including heavily armed and protected Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers, were deployed on the streets, a cordon was thrown up around the area, and houses and flats near the station were evacuated by the police. Helicopters circled overhead.

Shortly before midday, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley announced that “hundreds of detectives” were “involved looking at CCTV, forensics work and speaking to witnesses.” Rowley reported that the security service MI5 and the GCHQ spy network were “bringing their intelligence expertise to bear on the case.”

The Guardian reported Friday evening that the police have obtained CCTV images that capture the bomber as he boarded the train with the bomb.

As with all such outrages, there is no reason to assume that the attack comes as a surprise to the British intelligence agencies.

An indication that the security services know more about whoever carried out the attack than they are letting on came in the form of a tweet put out by US President Donald Trump, who called the perpetrators “sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”

Asked about Trump’s tweet, Prime Minister May rebuked the US president, saying, “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.” The Metropolitan Police described Trump’s comment as “pure speculation.”

The truth is that over the past decade, most terror attacks in Britain and Europe have been carried out by individuals, often radicalised Islamists, who were known to the state, had been monitored for years, and whose associations were of direct use to the major powers in their neo-colonial wars in Africa and the Middle East.

Similar statements were made by May and the British police after the May 22 Manchester Arena suicide bombing attack in which 22 people died. This was in response to US intelligences sources revealing, within hours, the identity of the bomber, Salman Abedi, and the fact that he was well known to British intelligence.

It is now established fact that that Abedi did not act alone, but was part of wider network that had been monitored and allowed to operate by British intelligence for years.

Similarly, the June 3 attack on London Bridge and Borough Market, which killed eight people and injured 48, was perpetrated by three individuals all of whom were well known to the intelligence services and police.

This is the fourth time that the threat level has been placed at “critical” in the past 11 years. The last occasion was following the Manchester attack, amid official warnings that another assault was “imminent.” Nearly 1,000 armed troops were mobilised and put onto the streets, mainly in London, to reinforce counterterrorism officers.

The June deployment was in line with Operation Temperer, a covert plan devised by David Cameron’s Conservative government, when May was home secretary.

Temperer followed a series of terror attacks in France by known intelligence assets and informers in 2015. These were seized on by the French state to implement Operation Sentinelle, which deployed 10,000 troops and imposed emergency powers allowing indiscriminate searches and arrests without judicial consent and increased surveillance. Presented as anti-terror measures, the emergency powers are still in effect two years later, to be used against social opposition in the working class.

Temperer was “accidentally” made public when minutes associated with it were uploaded to the National Police Chiefs’ Council website earlier this year. The minutes revealed plans for up to 5,100 troops to be placed on the streets to “augment armed police officers engaged in protective security duties.”

The Daily Mail noted that Temperer could be triggered by the COBRA committee following terrorist attacks, and that the military top brass recognised that the “Army played an important part in national resilience and supported the work going forward.”

“National resilience” could mean almost anything, and makes clear that Temperer is in place to back up the police with the army as and when required. Temperer was kept secret at the time because, according to the Daily Telegraph, then-Prime Minister David Cameron was concerned that comparisons would be made with British Army operations in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles,” the decades-long dirty war against Irish republicans.

4 thoughts on “London Underground terror and Conservative austerity

  1. Saturday 16th September 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    THE terrorist attack on a train at Parsons Green in London was the latest in a series of sickening attempts to take the lives of innocent people going about their business — an attempt that fortunately failed, though many will bear its scars for the rest of their lives.

    As the Morning Star goes to press, it is not clear who was behind the attack. The police who rebuked US President Donald Trump for speculating about it were right: ill-informed guessing games do not keep anyone safe and can easily lead to further harm.

    The stories of panic, of people being injured in the crush to escape, can tell us something, however.

    Passenger Luke O’Connor praises the “superb” work of Tube staff in getting people out of the station safely: the TSSA’s Manuel Cortes is right to salute the “courage and dedication to safety” of London Underground workers. But we also have accounts saying that initially no staff were to be seen: passengers talk of it taking “several minutes” before there was an uncontrolled freefor-all in which people were being trampled as they tried to get out.

    Drawing any link between this and the hundreds of job losses on the Underground that transport unions have campaigned against for years — RMT pointed out in January that axing workers risked turning the Tube into an “understaffed death trap at a time of heightened security alert” — will attract allegations of “politicising” a tragedy.

    Labour was accused of doing just that when it pointed to the Tory police cuts after the terrorist attack in Manchester in May, and again in June for highlighting decades of penny-pinching and ill-treatment of council tenants, an aggressive campaign against “health and safety” and a repeated failure to implement safety recommendations after previous fires as contributing factors to the corporate manslaughter at Grenfell Tower.

    The right-wing cry that raising these issues is somehow disrespectful to the victims of these incidents is simply an attempt to direct attention away from preventive measures which go against their ideological prejudices — or, worse, cost money.

    It is no coincidence that Transport for London and Arriva Trains London cancelled the planned announcement of a London Overground staffing review that was due yesterday — when the proposed changes threatened ticket office closures and have “a striking similarity to the Fit for the Future model rolled out on London Underground stations” which resulted in a “net loss of safety-critical jobs,” in the words of RMT general secretary Mick Cash.

    Since the plans are a response to budget cuts imposed by central government, assurances that they are solely a bid to improve services ring hollow.

    At the very least, bosses must start to listen to the concerns that unions have been raising over the consequences of cuts and stop pretending their decisions do not have real-world consequences.

    The Tories always seek to have it both ways: public-sector workers — like the firefighters who again proved their heroism after yesterday’s incident — are heroes when emergency strikes, but they don’t deserve a pay rise.

    And the world is becoming a more dangerous place because of the threat of terrorism, but we must neither ask what the root causes of an increase in terror attacks might be nor countenance spending money on extra resources for our public services to deal with the growing menace.

    It’s quite simple: cuts to essential services — and this includes the staffing of our public transport systems — render us all less safe. They must be reversed.

    If they are not, it is because, whatever Theresa May and her cronies might say on a day like yesterday, they do not really care about the risk to the public at all.


  2. Monday 18th September 2017

    posted by Will Stone in Britain

    Parsons Green often left ‘without a single member of staff ,’ Morning Star can reveal

    PARSONS Green station was staffed by just one person on the day of last week’s terrorist attack and is sometimes left without any Tube staff at all, according to a union source.

    A single member of staff was signed in at the station in south-west London on Friday when 30 people were left injured after a bomb exploded during rush hour, the source claimed.

    “The station is also unstaffed for large amounts of time,” they told the Star. “At the most there are two members of staff at the station.”

    The source argued that, although they are not required to, all London Underground stations regardless of size should be staffed by a minimum of three people.

    Many of those injured were crushed by panicked passengers during the “uncontrolled evacuation” of Parsons Green station.

    Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said yesterday that it is not possible to keep the British public safe “on the cheap” as she voiced concerns about resources and cuts to police.

    Speaking to BBC Breakfast she said: “It is the f fth attack and it is concerning and there are issues about resources and the sustainability of person power when it comes to responding to these attacks.”

    Home Secretary Amber Rudd accepted there had been cuts to police numbers but insisted that more savings could be made as police have £1.5 billion in reserves.

    However the union source said: “This is not just about cuts to policing but cuts to wider transport staff and emergency services.”

    Train unions RMT and TSSA have led campaigns against huge staff cuts by Transport for London (TfL) which they say have left stations across the capital understaffed and unsafe.

    Police have so far arrested two men following the incident, an 18-year-old man in the departure area of Dover ferry port and a 21-year-old man in Hounslow.

    Ms Rudd said it appeared the bomber was not a lone wolf but it was “too early to reach any final conclusions on that.”

    The terror threat was lowered from critical to severe yesterday following the arrests of the two men.

    However assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer, said armed police will maintain a strong presence across the country into next week.

    Ms Abbott urged passengers not to be alarmed by the extra police at stations because “that’s what the terrorists want to do, they want to scare and disrupt our society.”

    TfL had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.


  3. Pingback: Syrian refugee falsely accused of terrorism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: London bomb abused for Internet censorship | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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