Angela Rayner Has Forgotten the Shooting of Charles Menezes

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, managed to kick up a storm of protest last week. I haven’t read any more than the headlines, but I gather she said that when it came to terrorists, the police should shoot first and ask questions second. I have absolutely no sympathy for any terrorists, regardless of their colour, religion or political cause. But this is an extremely dangerous attitude as it has already resulted in the death of a completely innocent man in the turmoil following 9/11 and 7/7.

Charles Menezes was a Brazilian student studying over here in London. His only crime was that he lived in the same block of flats as a suspected Islamist terrorist. The house was being watched by an armed police team. Unfortunately, only one of them knew what the real terrorist suspect looked like, and he’d gone off to relieve himself. The others saw Menezes leave the house and, thinking he might be the suspect, shouted to him to stop. I think there was some kind of issue with their uniform, as it appears that Menezes didn’t recognise that they were police. In Brazil apparently one of the tactics used by armed robbers is to disguise themselves as policemen, and it may have been that Menezes thought that something like that was happening to him. He ran away and the police gave chase. Reaching the railway station, he jumped over the barriers and got on the train. So did the coppers, who then shot him in the head.

It was a horrific killing of an entirely innocent chap through massive police incompetence and a ‘shoot first’ policy. The government and police were worried that if terrorists were given any warning by the cops, they’d set off their suicide belts. And so it was official policy to shoot first and ask questions later. In the inquiry that followed,, this policy was abandoned. But Rayner’s statement suggests she would drag us back to it, and so cause potentially cause more innocent people to be shot by mistake.

And possibly not just by mistake. Way back in the 1980s there was scandal of the shooting of an IRA terrorist group in Gibraltar. As revealed in the World In Action documentary, ‘Death on the Rock’, the terrorists were needlessly killed. They had been tracked by the British army all the way down through Spain and could have been rounded up without bloodshed at any time. But it looks like the British government wanted to send a message to the IRA and so set up what was, in effect, a death squad to exterminate them. The programme caused such a scandal and enraged Thatcher to such an extent that she withdrew London Weekend Television’s broadcasting licence, and gave it instead to Carlton. This wasn’t the only instance of lawlessness by the British army in Northern Ireland. Rory Cormac has a number of other examples in his book, Disrupt and Deny, about the underhand, covert operations and real conspiracies by the British state. Some of these were so controversial and repugnant that many Conservatives were also opposed to them.

I’m very much aware that the terrorist threat is very real. But we need sensible policies regarding the armed response to it in order to prevent the deaths of innocents, like Mr Menezes, and our government and security forces behaving like Fascist death squads.

But Rayner, it seems, forgot all that in an attempt to appear tough and ruthless to appeal to all those Thatcherite Tories Starmer thinks will flood into Labour now that he’s ditched that awkward thing, socialism.

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3 Responses to “Angela Rayner Has Forgotten the Shooting of Charles Menezes”

  1. Brian Burden Says:

    I agree. Ridiculous and irresponsible, and I suspect an attempt tp get into Starmer’s good books. Fat chance! She must know she is there on borrowed time. If you recall, she jumped on Starmer’s bandwagon at the very beginning of his witch-hunt, proclaiming that there were 100,000 anti-Semites in the party who all needed to be expelled. Coincidentally, 100,000 was the number of people, I believe, who joined, (or, in my case, re-joined) the party, inspired by Corbyn’s leadership. They were mainly the reason for the Ā£31,000,000 surplus which Starmer inherited when he took over, and which he squandered paying off Corbyn’s enemies. Angie’s remarks on law-and-order were met with howls of derision on the Daily Mirror’s discussion section, not least because the police are unlikely to allow an opposition MP to dictate their policies

  2. Brian Burden Says:

    P>S> I don’t recall all the details, but another London victim of police “shoot first” policy was an Irish carpenter who was shot dead taking a wrapped-up chair leg home. In N.Ireland, it was mainly UK Army Intelligence, working with prot paramilitaries, who were responsible for most of the cold-blooded civilian killings not caused by bombs. The most shocking example was the senseless massacre of the popular Miami Show Band.

    • beastrabban Says:

      I heard of the incident with the Irish carpenter and the chair leg, and I think you’ve talked about the shooting of the Miami Show Band in Ulster before.

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