Police State | September 26, 2004
So I’ve just got back from Beijing and I have to say it was a bit of a shock. Talk about a police state. A cheerless policeman on every corner, snipers on the rooftops and “special forces” with automatic weapons outside key buildings. Police vans full of “riot police” waiting to respond to the first sign of descent and police with video cameras there to record likely suspects.
However I’m not talking about Tiananmen square here, I’m talking about Brighton. Driving back into Brighton Saturday morning, the huge police presence could mean only one thing , Tony was in town with the Labour party conference. The conference involves over 1,000 policemen and has turned Brighton into either the safest place in Britain (with police patrols every 5 minutes the chance of getting mugged has to be minimal) or possibly the most dangerous (walking past the conference centre on Saturday afternoon I suddenly realised it probably wasn’t the best place for an afternoon stroll) depending on your outlook.
On a TV news poll last night they asked if people in the UK were afraid of a terrorist attack and around 70% of respondents said that they were. There really seems to be a pervading sense of dread seeping though the nation, buoyed by constant news reports and government bills on terrorism. The IRA fought a very real terrorist campaign on UK soil for years, causing a devastating attack on the Conservative government 20 years ago at their Brighton conference. And yet the IRA mainland bombing campaign never managed to create the same level of fear or knee jerk policy making the we find ourselves experiencing today.
But I digress.
I really enjoyed my trip to China and Beijing proved to be very interesting place. I’d expected a very repressive atmosphere, so was amazed at how progressive the city felt. It definitely didn’t feel like the Beijing we all saw on the news 15 years ago.
Posted at September 26, 2004 6:51 PM