This entry was posted on
Monday, August 23rd, 2010 at
1:52 pm and is filed
under The War on Stupid, Tony ‘King Blair.
Let me do you the courtesy of explaining why I think Patrick Mercer’s ‘Tory conference terror alert’ story is a crock of beans.
To begin with, Patrick Mercer claims his sources are retired police and Army intelligence officers:
Sources in Northern Ireland said that the October conference in central Birmingham had emerged as the prize target on a hit list drawn up by resurgent republican paramilitaries. Patrick Mercer, ex-chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counter-terrorism, said former senior police and army intelligence officers had informed him that dissident splinter groups had discussed targeting David Cameron’s first conference as prime minister. (source)
Elsewhere this is reported/repeated as “sources in Northern Ireland” or even “police/intelligence sources in Northern Ireland” but really this should carry the health warning “according to Conservative MP Patrick Mercer…” because as Mark Townsend and Toby Helm (authors of the original Observer article) noted at the time;
Sources for West Midlands police said they had no intelligence of a specific threat against the Tory party conference. (source)
So this is not from the official song sheet and we only have Mercer’s word to go on that anyone sang otherwise. As far as the police charged with policing the event are concerned, there is no evidence of a specific threat. (You may wish to add ‘that they wish to discuss at this time’, which changes little about what follows, even if true.)
This leaves us with the possibility that this is (a) a leak, (b) the opinion of one or two retired officers, or (c) wholly imagined bullshit
(a) Exploring the possibility that it is a leak from the active police/intelligence community, we encounter the minor problem of Patrick Mercer’s recent embarrassments. Anyone in the loop will be aware of criminal investigations into/involving (hopefully former) associates of Patrick Mercer who, crucially, turned out to be conspicuously if not spectacularly discredited as sources of terrorism ‘intelligence’. Any proper cop on the job should also be aware that Mercer very recently involved police in a childish and damaging tabloid claim about his former mistress. Similarly, no serving soldier can afford to be associated with Mercer’s HIV bomb fantasies/alarmism. Ultimately, Mercer offers as much integrity and discretion as a pair of crotchless panties. If there’s a genuine threat to the Tory party conference that needs to be leaked for some reason, there are far more credible channels at present (if not in general). I’d sooner believe the NHS were issuing leaks through Nadine Dorries.
(b) If this is the opinion of one or two retired officers, years of anti-corruption regulation and legislation are working against them in an effort to keep them out of the loop, so at best they are making a judgement based on material in the public domain… or passed on in a public house. If they are privy to anything beyond that, they are most likely breaking the law if not the terms they agreed to upon employment and then retirement. If so, then to what end? One has to ask what the purpose of such whistle-blowing might be if the threat is real and it is not the wish of the authorities that it be known (see ‘a’ above). If it is as Mercer implies and there’s a pattern of senior police and army intelligence officers privately expressing concern about a specific threat to the Tory party conference, why is this specific threat not being dealt with through the usual channels? Most probably because it doesn’t exist:
Laurence Robertson, a Conservative MP who chairs a British parliamentary committee on Northern Ireland, told Sky he had no information that dissident nationalists planned a mainland bombing campaign…” (source)
(c) This leaves us with the possibility that Patrick Mercer’s sources have succumbed to bullshit or fantasy, or (more likely, in my view) Patrick Mercer himself introduced/positioned mention of a specific threat (while simultaneously leaving himself some wiggle room for later);
[Mercer] said: “They want to kill by the end of August in order to get themselves poised for whatever operations they can mount in September leading up to the Tory party conference in early October. There are doubts over whether they have the capability, but the aspiration is certainly there and West Midlands police would be crazy not to take the threat seriously.” – (source)
“I have no doubt there is an aspiration, a hope, a desire to bomb the mainland (Britain) and probably the Tory (Conservative) or indeed any of the party political conferences,” Mercer told Sky News. – (source)
In short, I fail to see how this is any different to past media alerts by Mercer that threaten to do more harm than good, and I suspect the primary component of this alert is Mercer’s wish to gain some positive publicity and re-establish himself as a credible spokesperson on terrorism.
[Psst! If CCHQ plan to play up the perceived threat in order to pressure police into providing added security for their conference that the taxpayer will have to pay for (i.e. neatly keeping anti-Tory protestors at bay at no cost to them while simultaneously associating them with militant elements), then Cameron may as well start rolling tanks into Heathrow and be done with it.]
By leftoutside August 23, 2010 - 2:29 pm
Patrick Mercer what an allegedly nasty piece of work. I'm glad you've picked up on his latest allegedy shinanigans.
By raincoatoptimism August 23, 2010 - 4:03 pm
Mercer will do it himself just to spite you now Tim
By Paladin August 24, 2010 - 8:25 am
Patrick Mercer is the most disloyal untrustworthy callous shyster I have ever known.
Mercer on the basis of unfounded information is doing the job of terrorisation for the dissident republicans. Cameron reduced Mercer to a backbencher and some would say elbowed him out from a position of power and influence and now we have Mercer spreading rumour of a lethal threat to the Tory Cameron Conservative Party's conference. More and more I get the feeling that Mercer perhaps wants mainland bloodshed and war, only then, does he seem to be in his element, only then, does he become somebody of authority and recognition.
Tim, am I wrong to think that way about Mercer or is there more than an element of truth in my deliberation?
By Tim_Ireland August 24, 2010 - 9:34 am
He does love the limelight, and that only emerges when a (real or imagined) threat does, so you may be onto something, but I doubt he's so institutionalised that he consciously wishes for war.
By Paladin August 24, 2010 - 5:49 pm
Tim, perhaps I should explain my opinion regarding Mercer and war.
Mercer’s achievements indeed his main expertise in life revolved around the ‘dirty war’ in Ireland and so it was from war and terrorism his only real authority came, beyond which, he must have known he was just another commonplace politician going nowhere in a time of peace.
Then talk about a war in Iraq came under his influence and in the beginning Mercer said "I am convinced that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, but I doubt that he has the capability to deliver them, and I doubt that there are links between Iraq and terrorists." With so much doubt one would rightly expect he would have to denounced the horror of war and I speculate that around about that time Mercer was privy to intelligence briefings from the Ministry of Defence: "Any collapse of the Iraqi regime would increase the risk of chemical and biological warfare technology or agents finding their way into the hands of terrorists, including al-Qaida."
Evidently a war in Iraq run the risk or perhaps opportunity of terrorist backlash. Mercer suddenly seem to have no doubts and said "Saddam Hussein needs to be pushed to the wire militarily" and in a time of peace "If we want peace, we must vote for war" said Mercer and since then he has become the media's authority on war and on terrorism and from a nobody to a somebody. (Shadow Minister for Homeland Security and Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism )
Mercer also worked for a number of security firms some of which may have a vested interests in war. However, though maybe not consciously wishing for war perhaps enthralled and entirely engrossed and actively supportive of war and nay never a cry of ‘enough’ or bring our boys home from Mercer the merciless while they Do and Die by the hundreds, those valiant, fathers and sons of England.
By Tim_Ireland August 24, 2010 - 9:22 pm
FYI: This comment earned an angry reply including an emotional/straw-man argument from someone calling themselves 'anti-paladin', but they didn't bother using a genuine/verifiable email address, so I won't be publishing it.
By Tim_Ireland August 25, 2010 - 9:55 am
UPDATE – 'anti-paladin' is now telling me that their anonymous comments submitted to my site are "none of my buisiness" (sic). Oh dear. You've stirred up a brave genius with this theory of yours.
By DevonChap August 24, 2010 - 10:26 am
Yeah, because no Tory party conference has ever been a target for Northern Irish terrorism before.
By BenSix August 25, 2010 - 5:05 pm
Brits have also been a target for Israelis, Germans and the French. If I claimed, without a hint of evidence, that dark Nordic plots were afoot, would the past confer respectability upon my bollocks?
By Paladin August 26, 2010 - 6:07 am
I suspect it maybe one of Mercer’s cronies or possibly someone within Mercer’s unhelpful snubbing staff but to whomever it was they really ought to take to heart the quote Patrick Mercer used in a newspaper article.
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person was of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind… If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity to exchange error for truth; if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit – the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error." To use such a quote after he had betrayingly ‘silenced’ one constituent is sheer hypocrisy and not forgetting the others that he attempted to silence by 'intimidation' threat.
It was alleged that there is something of the night and the cold wintry north wind about Patrick Mercer and when an allegation was made by a man of ‘integrity’ that Mr Mercer had intimidated and browbeater people into keeping their mouth shut I thought of Mercer’s days in Northern Ireland and allegations pertaining to his membership with the notorious FRU along with other characteristic and mentality and thereby came to the conclusion that the good people of Newark had been utterly duped and saddled with the worse possible MP apparently incapable of keeping his promise to his constituents or his lied to lover and from what I have seen and read I therefore conclude he is apparently an unscrupulous conscienceless liar to boot. That is everybody’s business!
This Tim is my estimation of the man which you and others so rightly and helpfully called for his resignation.