While making lunch I heard on Five Live the bizarre tale of a woman who was arrested under the Terrorism Act (which exact one, I’m not sure) for walking on a cycle path in Dundee. I thought it was someone winding them up during a phone-in, but no – the Times reports that it actually did happen:
?The next thing I knew, the harbour master had driven up behind me with a megaphone, saying, ?You?re trespassing, please turn back?. It was totally ridiculous. I started laughing and kept on walking. Cyclists going past were also laughing.
?But then two police cars roared up beside me and cut me off, like a scene from Starsky and Hutch, and officers told me I was being arrested under the Terrorism Act. The harbour master was waffling on and (saying that), because of September 11, I would be arrested and charged.?
The mind boggles at trying to assess the thought processes in the harbourmaster’s mind. Can anyone seriously think that the act of walking on a cycle path is but a few short steps away from mass murder? Mind you, perhaps more worrying is the fact our legal system is now able to define any sort of petty infringement under the umbrella term of terrorism, and allow the harbourmaster to “do his job” thusly.
I am getting ever-more convinced by the hypothesis that the British are now not a nation of shopkeepers, but more a nation of petty jobsworths. The political class are just as jobsworthy as the rest of us, which is why the solution to any problem now seems to be writing down more and more laws, guidelines and frameworks (such as the above), and the use of ever-more bureaucratic pedantry (e.g. ID cards), simply because it is the only way they know how, and the only way that satisifes their predilection to meddle and nag.