The plan seems to have been to smuggle explosives in hand luggage onto a number of aircraft flying to the States from UK airports. After that first announcement, came the predictable chaos, with security clampdowns at airports, some airlines choosing not to fly into the UK, and huge delays for passengers. We now know that a number of people, mainly British citizens of Pakistani origin, have been arrested and the sad truth is that all of us will make the understandable connection.
But the one thing that there isn't, even after this terrible announcement, is a sense of national panic. Don't get me wrong, we take the threat as seriously as anyone and we have great faith in our Police and security services. But there's no question of Britain grinding to a halt. London's subway is functioning steadily as it always has with no greater Police presence apparent than usual. The streets here are still full and as you can see, this park has the usual number of Britons desperately looking for the last of the summer sunshine.
Maybe this is because in some sense we've been here before. There are millions of British who remember the air raids of the Second World War, and many more who recall living through the murderous attacks on our cities by the IRA in the 1970s and 80s. But maybe, whilst we completely accept what we've been told about the events of the last twenty four hours, there's been an odd coincidence.
Just two days ago, our Homeland Security Secretary made a highly-spun speech, hinting that new anti terror laws are on their way and that those who disagree with further limitations by this Government on our freedom, "just don't get it". Of course he knew about the story that was about to break and of course he knew about the threat to our safety and security that the police were about to reveal. And he couldn't resist using that knowledge, so that a few hours later he would be able to say, "I told you so".
It's cynicism like that that makes this one of the most untrusted Governments we've ever had -- even at a time like this.
by Simon Bates