Sunday, 22 November 2015

ISIS are not a threat to the United Kingdom, bad government is

How many people have Islamic State murdered in the UK in set piece terrorist atrocities? None. Lets look at a few other statistics.

The last major terrorist attack in the UK by terrorists claiming to be Islamic fundamentalists was the  7/7 bombings in 2005. Since then, more people have been killed by dogs in the UK (16). That group were not ISIS relaetd as ISIS didn't exist then.

No one is proposing a "war on dogs" as they are more lethal than UK based Jihadi terrorists. There are however a few similarities between these killer dogs and the Jihadi's. The main one is that there are millions of lovely dogs that will never kill anyone but who get a bad name from a few, generally who have very stupid owners. My personal view is that it is bad dog owners rather than the dogs which should get the bad press.

Dogs have killed more UK citizens than ISIS
To me there is a huge similarity with ISIS. Just as bad owners create the small number of dangerous dogs, suicidal Jihadists are the product of several factors. The chief one is an extremely hard line interpretation of the Koran by Wahibbi clerics in Saudi Arabia. We blanche at the atrocities perpetrated in Syria in ISIS controlled land, but exactly the same sort of thing happens in Saudi Arabia and is sanctioned by the Saudi government, a supposed ally. On Friday the Guardian reported that a Saudi court had sentenced a poet to death for the crime of renouncing Islam. The wider picture is equally shocking, Amnesty International reports that 102 people were put to death by the Saudi government between January and June 2012 and almost half of executions in 2014 and until June 2015 are for non-lethal crimes. Beheadings are the most common execution method in Saudi Arabia, but some executions also carried out by firing squad. Many Public executions typically take place in the public square of a town or city. Whilst ISIS clearly are operating such practices on a larger scale, this is partly because the local population has until recently been of a lot more secular nature. The funding and support for groups such as ISIS is based in Saudi Arabia and the religious authorities would be in firm agreement with the interpretation of Sharia Law implemented by ISIS. When the US authorities were battling with gangsters in the 1930's they found that the way to stop their activities was to "follow the money". If you follow the money for ISIS, the trail ends in the bank accounts of wealthy and seemingly respectible Saudi backers. If ISIS really was a threat to our way of life, then surely this is the first place we'd seek to launch our war on terror. There would be no ISIS without money.

Daleks have killed as many people in UK as ISIS
Just how deadly are these Jihadi terrorists? The sad truth is that a few nutcases running around with bombs and guns does have the ability to cause mayhem and kill lots of people. But when yyou look at it, the ones in Paris were and incredibly stupid bunch. I was talking to a friend who is a police officer involved with counter terrorist activities. He told me a fact that, whilst rather macabre, I found quite amusing and reassuring. The bombers at Stade de France only managed to kill themselves and one passer by. Do you know why? Well it seems these terrorist masterminds had not actually bothered to get tickets for the game. They also turned up late, after the crowds had entered the stadium. What greater act of futility and stupidity could there be? Even by their own appalling standards, they were not martyrs, they were simply stupid men committing an act of mass suicide for no purpose whatsoever. If the level of people we have to deal with is so stupid that they can't figure out what time a football match starts and that you need tickets to get in, do you really believe that such people have the wherewithall to topple our democratic society? Does an ideology that has been less successful at killing people since 2005 than bad dog owners really threaten the people of the UK with anything more than isolated and random acts of carnage? Our security forces and Police have kept them at bay for ten years. They deserve massive credit for this although clearly we cannot let our guard down and let ourselves relax. But however you look at it, ISIS are not a threat to our way of life and they will never be anything more than capable of killing a few innocent people in a few public places in the UK. That is the sum total of their powers. There are however far greater threats to the population, that it seems we completely ignore.

 In 2013 1,713 people were killed on the roads (latest govt figures available). That sounds quite a lot doesn't it? But in actual fact this is a tiny number compared to the 9,500 who die in London alone from poor air quality. That sounds like quite a lot, but again is dwarfed by the 40,000 people a year killed in the UK by cold. Sounds quite a lot? What about the 100,000 a year killed by smoking?

All of these figures dwarf anything that a few nutters with Kalashnikovs and bomb vests could achieve. The appalling fact is that all of these figures are totally avoidable. With modern technology, it would be quite straightforward to pass legilsation that compells manufacturers to build anti collision techology into all cars and also that enforces speed limits, restricting cars to the speed limit for the road. I've no idea if it's true or company propoganda, but I've read reports that state that 90% of accidents could be prevented by technology.  It seems absurd that we pay billions to prevent terror attacks, but the government won't compel car firms to include technology that would save over 1,000 lives a year. If it was as simple as protecting unsafe drivers from themselves, I suppose it could be argued as a civil liberties issue, but it isn't. It is other road users, cyclists and pedestrians that suffer. It is not just the deaths. There are all of the people who require hospital treatment and long term life changing injuries. Reports list this as half a billion pounds a year for the 0-15 year old age group. When George Osborne talks about cuts in funding, why doesn't he ever consider cutting the cause of the costs? I can't see any reason why the UK doesn't lead the way, cut the death toll and save billions. It is a win, wi win scenario. 

Then there is poor air quality. In London this is caused by pollution from cars, lorries and buses. Again the technology exists that can prevent this. The problem has been known about for years. It is as simple as compelling manufacturers to fit it on all vehicles and after a suitable period banning non compliant vehicles fro town centres and pollution hotspots. Again there are costs involved for motorists, but they have no earthly right to poison the rest of the population. It is scandalous that 9,500 people a year die from completely preventable causes. Reports list the cost  to the UK economy of air pollution as £54 billion. This figure would presumably fix George Osbornes budget defecit for once and all. It would allow us to keep our libraries, invest in the Police we need to stop the few lone wolf nutters and we'd all be healthier. It really isn't rocket science, is it?

Then there are the 40,000 people a year killed by the cold. Unlike the first two categories, this doesn't need new technology and infrastructure investments to fix. This simply needs compassion. People freeze to death because they can't afford to keep warm. No one in a developed country should ever freeze to death. What many people don't realise is that the issue puts a huge strain on the NHS budget. AgeUK estimate that the cost to the NHS is £1.36 billion

Age UK’s new estimate of the cost of cold homes to the NHS is £1.36 billion.There will also be further avoidable costs to social care services and to informal carers. At a time when the Government is looking to the NHS to make efficiency savings, taking further action to enable older people to protect their health in winter will also bring savings for the public purse.

Such a death toll cannot be justified on any level. It is quite simple, anyone who has issues paying their energy bills should be given whatever assistance they need to fix the problem. Of course there will be costs associated with this, but I for one would rather pay more for electricity or more in tax than see anyone freeze to death. If we can afford billions to keep the population safe from a few nutcases, we can most certainly afford to keep our elderly citizens safe from the cold.

The last of the things which cause preventable deaths is smoking. It kills over 50 times more people than car accidents. The cost to the NHS is huge. But this is a very complicated issue. The vast majority of people who will injure themselves or die because they smoke are adults who have made the choice to smoke. We live in a free society and I don't believe we should be telling adults how we should live our lives. What worries me though is the fact that despite all of the health risks, smoking is still viewed as a cool thing to do by teenagers. How do we change this perception? I haven't got a clue. Tobacco brings in huge sums of money for the treasury, which is why I suspect that the government has no real interest in dealing with this toll. If cigarettes were made illegal, then people would still smoke, but the government would simply lose tax revenue, which is a lose/lose. It would probably seem even more subversive and cool for the teenagers of the world. A friend of mine had a novel solution to the problem, which I have no idea whether it is a good idea or not. He suggested that over 65's should pay less tobacco duty and pubs and clubs should have smoking areas reserved for over 65's. This would put more money in the pockets of pensioners and presumably by this age, it is one of the few pleasures in life. If we had a few sitcoms set in old folks homes, where the residents were happily puffing away and reminiscing about the good old days of steam trains and national service, then would the younger generation still think smoking was a cool thing to do. I spoke to a cancer doctor recently (I've spoken to a few). He joked that having seen geriatric wards and cancer wards he knew which he'd prefer, which is why he smoked.

What do you think are the main threats to the UK? As far as I am concerned it is not ISIS. If you look at it rationally, the bloke who sells you a packet of fags is more likely to kill you than ISIS. The bloke driving a diesel car is more likely to kill you than ISIS. George Osborne with his energy policies is more likely to kill you than ISIS. However you look at it, if you are sane, rational and intelligent, ISIS are not a threat to the ongoing national security of the UK. Sadly for us all, the same cannot be said about bad, unenlightened and stupid government.

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