One of the most disturbing features of the recent commemoration for the people who were killed in the London bombings on 7 July was that the event was specifically a religious service.
It's bad enough that public events of that sort are so frequently sectarian in this way, hence excluding so many people - including many of those affected, whom the event is allegedly for. But in this case, it was even more inappropriate: here was an example of mass murder, with the perpetrators declaring that their reason for the killings was their commitment to their irrational religious beliefs, and the commemoration of the victims was designed to reinforce exactly that mentality.
It would be almost as sick to mark a sudden upsurge in deaths caused by cars by holding a commemorative Grand Prix.
Which brings to mind an interesting statistic, to put the London bombings into a kind of context. There was an understandable, and largely universal, revulsion about all the horrible deaths caused by what were once-in-a-blue-moon atrocities. Yet the number killed by those bombs on 7 July is almost exactly the same as the number of human beings killed by British motorists every single week. By the time you're reading this issue of Peace News, there will have been 22 more “7 July's” on Britain's roads since the bombings - deaths which were no more inevitable than were those on 7 July in London.
Last month, The Mole revealed how the recent, and excellent, Freedom to Protest conference was largely funded by the government. It was money awarded to the McLibel Two by the European Court of Human Rights when it ruled that they had been denied their right to freedom of speech and to a fair trial: Helen and Dave had decided to recycle the money in a good cause.
This has prompted news of another similar instance. Last year, some anti-monarchy campaigners won damages from the Metropolitan Police in London, after they sued over having been harassed and stopped from leafleting. Some of the cash has since been used to fund a new “Rough Guide to being arrested” (ie, keep your mouth shut, etc). So it's good to know that next time the Met can't bamboozle someone into incriminating themselves, it'll be thanks to their colleagues having overstepped the mark (in fact several marks) on an earlier occasion.
The latest example of a public service being made worse by adherence to the mantra of “choice and competition” is the postal system. Apparently, when postage prices are changed next year, they will relate to the size of a letter as well as its weight. Can you imagine the scenes in post offices when every item has to be measured as well as weighed?
Yes, of course it's bonkers - it's yet another example of the service being made worse because of the break-up into competing companies. And naturally, it's the ordinary “small user” who will bear the brunt of higher prices (as will small publications like Peace News, which is seriously threatened by the change); big companies with larger mailings will be able to save money under the new pricing scheme.
If you were thinking that there's supposed to be a watchdog to regulate postal services, forget any idea that they're on our side: they say it's a wonderful example of “liberalisation”.