please empty your brain below

My heart goes out to all those people who are in pain after this attack.
But here in Europe we see just how tough the average Londoner really is, those old stories about the blitz are alive and well.
Ken Livingstone wanted to pedestrianise Parliament Square, the powers that be stopped it because they wanted to control the likes of Brian Haw.
Regarding your last sentence.
When self driving cars replace human drivers I imagine this could not happen.
All the talk in the media and politicians about Londoners being 'defiant' and 'brave' by continuing as normal gets on my nerves, after all, on average one teenager a month still gets murdered in London, yet mothers aren't lauded in the same way for 'bravely' and 'defiantly' sending their children to school.

Following the attacks in France, Germany and Belgium - a similar attack in London has been 'priced in' by many people, so there was no big surprise when it happened, plus of course those of us old enough remember the IRA attacks, Admiral Duncan, tube and bus bombings, Woolwich etc.

The only truly scary attacks were the V1 of WW 2, with the dread of the engine stopping near you, then not being sure where it'll land, being supersonic, you didn't worry about the V2 as they blew you up before you heard them.

Of course you may have noticed that after all this, London is still here, so Wednesdays attack was a waste of life on a pointless gesture.

Love the ironic pigeon by the way.
That is a stoic pigeon.

The sad fact is that random violence is just part of city life. There is not much you can do about a nutter with a knife, at least not without imposing unreasonable restrictions on normal life. And then they'd just use a pointed stick.

But there are some defensive things we can do. For example, I'm sure more vehicular barriers will be appearing beside the road on this and other bridges, and in Parliament Square.
To put this in perspective, the number of casualties here was thankfully limited. If you carry on past the new New Scotland Yard, you immediately come upon a group of war memorials - Chindits, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, Battle of Britain, RAF, Fleet Air Arm, etc.
John - I'm afraid that self driving cars won't help. All it will need is for some hacker to inject malware into the control system and a vehicle will be remotely sent ploughing into a crowd with the innocent owner unable to control it or stop it.
My heart goes out too to every police officer and their family each time they report for duty not knowing what might happen on that shift.

Let's hope though that this attack does not inspire knee-jerk legislation, because that would give the perpetrator something they probably wanted.
As usual an excellent piece of writing.
I believe there are significantly more people willing to use vehicles as weapons then is ever likely to be recorded. I was very nearly done in by one such driving at speed onto the pavement from behind me and then stopping suddenly in front of me deliberately blocking my way. I don't know what small accident of fate happened to save me but I do know from past experience there is absolutely no point in trying to report this to the police or get them to acknowedge this might be a sign of other suspect activities.
Touching post.
Where next indeed. It isn't the first act of violence the world has seen, and sadly it won't be the last.
Spare a thought for those who are forced to flee, and those who remain, in cities decimated by years of violence.
Agree with many of the sentiments posted beneath your touching post.

A very good point made by Still anon. Defiance is an emotive word which doesn't apply to people like me who just want to get on with life.

Andrew makes a very good point about the war memorials.

I have a friend who is a senior doctor at Kings. Amazingly, he said he's had busier days!
A good post DG. As usual we have the awful Piers (Moron) Morgan grandstanding in front of the camera and speaking on behalf of all Londoners. I know this blog is not really about politics or conflict but I must say I despise Morgan with a passion. Apologies if I have gone off topic.
Thank you: a ever an interesting post.

The pictures, with the lack of traffic, made me think of Wordsworth's "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802".
Here's a better traffic-free photo...

Next Wednesday major road works are scheduled to begin to add segregated cycle lanes to the bridge.
To put this into perspective, this multiple murder could have happened anywhere. It only made international news because of where it was.

Unless you completely segregate road traffic from pedestrians - either by banning the former or penning in the latter, this sort of thing can happen.

The Bath tipper truck crash and the Glasgow bin lorry crash both killed more pedestrians (both were accidents, of course). And Keith Palmer was not the first police officer, and won't be the last, to be stabbed in the line of duty.

The defences surrounding parliament did work - the attacker was apprehended by several police officers almost as soon as he entered the precincts. Whether the outcome would have been different if all (or indeed none) of them had been armed is debatable.
Timbo. Not sure I'd call either the Bath or Glasgow horrors as "accidental". Those were entirely preventable if (Bath) the owners had maintained the truck properly or (Glasgow) the driver had been honest about his medical record.
I'd like to see the Mayor close parliament square to traffic, make it bus taxi cycle only. But he won't, MPs and journalists are some of the worst culprits for unnecessary private car use in central London.
While government ministers praise the heroic actions of the police and medical services, it is at the same time cutting their numbers and their budgets and freezing their pay, and worrying many of them about their rights to even remain in this country.

Equally, the government refuses to take in refugees from parts of the world where there are levels of death and destruction and terror that we will never understand nor experience.
Thank you DG.
@Island Dweller
Definition of ACCIDENT
"an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury"
Are you suggesting either of those incidents were deliberate? Careless, and avoidable, certainly - but no-one involved in either incident set out to deliberately harm anyone.

As for closing Parliament Square to all vehicles except buses and cycles* there can always be authorised exceptions for specified vehicles such as ministerial cars.

*I fail to see why taxis should be given the same privileges as buses anywhere, let alone where there is a security issue.

Unfortunately, we already know the answer to DG's concluding rhetorical question.
A very poignant post dg. Thank you.
If I don't bother maintaining the brakes on my lorry fleet, and people are killed when the brakes fail - that's not something that 'happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury', that is why the owner and mechanic were convicted of manslaughter - it was only the driver that was found not guilty, as he could demonstrate that he didn't set out to harm anyone.


Same if I conceal my history of blackouts when applying for a job driving a dustcart, and I then black out and kill people, the failure to prosecute the driver in Scotland was a scandal.

Not wishing to derate the very recent incident here, but I always associate Westminster Bridge with a parade of Daleks, and that association is still so strong it's over-riding any visual association I have.
The number of terrorist incidents I've been close too in London and beyond is chilling in some respects. But then I worked in the very heart of London during the early 90s and the IRA's almost weekly leaving of an explosive device somewhere. Walked right past some of them, within 30 feet and 10 minutes on one occasion. And twice I was on the bus heading into Manchester when devices went off there. For the sake of 30 minutes...
And I was at Euston when the 7/7 devices went off. I was on one of the last southbound Bank Branch trains, if not THE last that day. The escalator jerked to a stop, the lights flickered. The train 2 minutes later ran non-stop until it had crossed the Thames, then it was everyone off and it zoomed away.
After a while, these associations fade even if the memories don't.
But at least it's safer in London than Aleppo.
Thanks, DG, for a thoughtful and, to me, helpful post.
It's not a question of how foreseeable the crash was, or how avoidable, or even whether anyone was at fault. It is down to intent. If someone had deliberately sabatoged the brakes in order to cause a crash, then any resulting death would be murder. A manslaughter conviction implies there was no intent to cause harm. And if it was unintentional, it was, by definition, an accident, however criminally careless, avoidable and foreseeable.

A very thoughtful post, thank you. A slightly off topic musing: was poor PC Palmer wearing a stab proof vest? If not, why not and if yes was the poor soul just terribly unlucky and caught in an unprotected place like the neck? I guess the inquest will enlighten.

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