Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Preparing for a Civil Emergency and other thoughts

My picures above show the front of Prof. Hennessy's book, a map of tunnels of Gibraltar (copyright unknown), burning of cattle during the foot and mouth outbreak and Box Tunnel

Last night there was an excellent documentary on BBC Radio 4 called "Watching the doomwatchers" which was produced by Martin Rosenbaum and Max Cotton. A write up on it can be found on the official site at

Anyway I didn't twig that it was the same Martin Rosenbaum who is the BBC's man who specializes in Freedom of Information issues until I saw the link on Iain Dale's blog. He has exposed the scandal that most of the Cabinet Committees that our much diminished Deputy Prime Minister supposedly chair either never meet or meet so infrequently as to be irrelevant.

Well worth a visit.
The documentary reminded me of a book written by the incomparable (but left-wing) Peter Henesey.

that dealt mainly with the plans for outbreak of a third world war called, "The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War" (2002). I found it fascinating, especially the account of how the final train would leave London containing key civil servants and the great and the good for Box in Wiltshire, just up the road from my parents at Avoncliff .

I thought as I read Hennesey's book how futile it was really to try and run government after a nuclear war in the same way that one had prior to it; the key was the deterrent effect of the weapons and for the enemy to understand that if the circumstances demanded it, we would use such wepons in our own national self-interest. Oddly as I listened to the Radio documentary, I couldn't help feeling that government and the business of government now was as unprepared for national emergency now as it was in the 1950s.

As I had seen the mines at Westwood above my parents village where national treasures were stored in the Second World War and even more amazingly visited the so called 'secret' underground tunnels below the rock in Gibraltar as a guest of the RAF, complete with the underground hospital and power station, I found the book particularly interesting. An on-line review can be found at and the book can be purchased alongside another review at

David Cameron may be on to something when he says this government is failing to be robust enough in the fight against Islamic terrorisism and extremism; I doubt they are doing enough to prepare for any civil emergency.


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