Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meanwhile, Where Great Britain Used to Be

Remember? The place where Belloc wrote, in a wry mixture of pride and horror, "Whatever happens, we have got/The Maxim Gun, and they have not," knowing that Civilisation was a thing worth protecting?

Yeah. They're not so much that way any more. In 21st-Century London, "protection" = "oppression." Plus, ew, cooties -- "do it to Julia," and elsewhere.

Update: Some understandable debate in Comments. From my reading, those complaining are renters -- sorry, if you wanted more control over who else got space in your building, you should have owned it. As well, what's UK law on this kind of thing? If the Crown is acting in a manner consistent with the laws of the land, well -- those laws might be wrong, but there they are. If you object, you might be better writing a letter to your M.P. than on a website, better filing suit than waving signs.

There's even discussion of OMG, what if they rilly shoot a hijacked plane down and it falls on London? In answer to that, two items: 1. Like making it fall will create more damage than allowing it to reach its intended target? 2. Ever hear the words "deterrent effect?" I believe the present tendency of airline passengers (especially in the U.S.) to dogpile persons who act up on airplane flights has done more to prevent hijacking than all the efforts of TSA -- not because actual hijackers are being stopped in the act but because even a fanatic can see the odds are poor. If you want "poor odds" demonstrated, try "airliner vs. modern AA." An Airbus ain't a V-2. Anybody remember the Israeli policy in re hostages?


Keads said...

Truly sad commentary on the once Empire that the sun never set on, nor gave up when randomly bombed with over sized bottle rockets. Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté should be spinning in his grave.

Sendarius said...

Apparently I don't see what you are seeing in this article,

The significant bit to me was:
"In a Western democracy in 2012, I don't think the army should occupy private land without consulting the people who live there and getting their consent."

Isn't there some old US document that talks about (and I paraphrase) "the government may not quarter troops on private property"? Would you consider an army detachment camped on your roof ready to hurl hot and heavy stuff at an airplane "quartering"?

I know that I would, and I would consider it polite of the government to at least ASK if I think it's OK.

Roberta X said...

Who owns the building?

Sendarius said...

Does it really matter who owns the building?

I assumed - perhaps incorrectly - that it was privately owned.

Mostly because I can't imagine the UK government refurbishing a former privately owned factory into government owned high-class apartments. :)

Anonymous said...

Yep, tis a privately owned building.

The furore over here, well amongst those with more than one brain cell (which excludes politicians and press), isn't so much about the siting of AA on a private building in an area with multiple council and government buildings (could it be the fact that anywhere else they'd end up being nicked?), but more along the lines of 'Erm, just what will happen if an aircraft is shot out of the sky using short-range missiles? Large plane falling on London perchance? So it's Ok if a few plebs get squashed as long as the the celebs, mps and whatnot are OK?'

Whilst I agree that my country is known, rightly, as the country that used to be Great Britain - not everyone here is as portrayed in the press. If that were so, then you Yanks would all either be cousin humping rednecks living in a double-wide in a trailer park or Gordon Gecko clones living in Beverly Hills mansions (I'm assuming some of you don't fit those two anyway).

Roberta X said...

True. Brits are unfairly caricatured as often as Americans.

I do think it is a critical question if the space was siezed (how does UK law address this?) Or obtained in free exchange with the property owner. If the wealthy renters object, tough.

perlhaqr said...

The quote Sendarius highlights is the one that stuck out to me as well, thinking of my own situation. Though, of course, I live in a single dwelling home that I (notionally) own, instead of a multidwelling apartment. I suppose it's not terribly unreasonable that they only (presumably) asked the building owner. Though, if "apartment" is British for "condominium", with the people living there as actual part owners, it gets sticky again.

I don't think the concerns of the people involved at becoming a target for a jihadi wanting to blow something up are terribly unreasonable, though. If you were planning an aerial attack, it would make sense to hit the AA sites, too.

Anonymous said...

Having just watched "Reach for the Sky"*, I have been reminded of a day when Britons were made of rather sterner stuff than they appear to be now.

Somehow, I can't imagine Britons in 1941 grousing, "You can't put that ack-ack gun in my front yard! You're making my house into a TARGET!" or "But what if one of those nasty old Spitfires shoots down a German plane? Why, it might crash in our city, and that would be TERRIBLE."


"Reach for the Sky" (1956)
dir. Lewis Gilbert

Biopic about the life of Wing Commander Douglas Bader, RAF pilot who lost both legs in a crash but returned to duty to fight in World War II.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"So it's Ok if a few plebs get squashed as long as the the celebs, mps and whatnot are OK?'"

I think it's more a question of numbers than status or position. An airliner shot down over London could certainly kill hundreds, but the same aircraft deliberately crashed into an Olympic venue could kill thousands if timed right. It's a horrible question to contemplate, but if that scenario does actually come up, what should the people charged with protecting the people do?

But, as our illustrious host has pointed out, that style of attack is extremely unlikely to succeed again anytime in the next 50 years or so (at least).

Drang said...

I dunno. I got the impression that they were upset about all those icky soldiers and their icky weapons.

What was that movie about the SAS called, "Who Dares Wins" or something? Where Edward Woodward and the Specials show up and tell the guy "Hallo, sir, there are some terrorists next door, we want you to go about your business as we set up observation of them from your parlor, oh, BTW, we'll be blowing a hole in your home as we take them down..."?

Timmeehh said...

That link to Belloc led me to this jewel:

Here richly, with ridiculous display,
The Politician's corpse was laid away. While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.

Anonymous said...

Ha, I love this place!

I seriously doubt the authorities 'seized' the property. it will have been a simple request and, like any normal citisen, the freeholder will have agreed without a second thought. The whingeing comments by, certain, residents should be taken in the light of 'press selective presentation' rather like New Orleans as viewed from here. (If you want a good view of what the average Brit is still like then read 'Watching the English' by Kate Fox - it's, embarrassingly at times, very insightful. Stiff upper-lip, understatement, phlegmatic acceptance, apologies and queuing are still true for the majority).

"Hundreds rather than Thousands" isn't really the gist of the sarcastic moaning, it's more, along with ticket allocations to the 'special people', about how authorities priorities are viewed here (Oh and with population densities in London I seriously doubt it would be hundreds either). Just like there the real silent majority just quietly muck-in in an entirely un-pressworthy manner.

As usual Roberta has nailed it. It's nothing more than an obvious display (as in APCs at Heathrow) to act as a deterrent, the real protections being further out and in depth.


"Icky soldiers", well if you want a better class of AA you should use RAF Regiment, we're not like those pongo oiks. Oh, and you actually watched 'Who Dares Wins'?, my sincerest apologies (still our SF is better than your SF ;-p)

Douglas2 said...

A quibble, but I think you would find that nearly all residents of the apartments at Bow Quarter will own their apartments, either outright or with a mortgage.

They very likely are not "Freeholders" of the actual land, however. A quirk of UK land transfer convention is that UK residential property has title issued as "leashold", with the lease being fully transferable on the market and lease terms often measuring in the hundreds of years. A nominal "ground rent" is paid to the freeholder each year by the leaseholder. In this case of the complex in question, there will be common areas (and rooftops) under the control of the freeholder, but probably provisions much like a condo board for their maintenance and upkeep.
Leaseholds with more than a lifetime remaining on a lease are considered as sure an investment as freehold real estate there. And laws exist to make sure that there isn't an imbalance of power or incentive between the parties when it is time for a lease to expire.
So don't be fooled by the work "apartment". In this case it means a unit that is only part of the whole building, and that has no implications on whether it is a rental or owned unit.

Roberta X said...

Freeholder retains the ability to lease out portions not already leased, right? Like rooftops?

This may keep some legal eagles gainfully employed.