Sanum Ghafoor on the latest absurdity by the Ministry of Defence – surface-to-air missiles on London rooftops for the Olympics.

A graphic from the Daily Mail

River patrols, RAF Typhoon fighters, fighter jets, snipers in helicopters, air missiles sites on rooftops…Is this that scene from the movie Transformers with Megan Fox when there’s an epic battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron? No; believe it or not, this is London 2012.

In an attempt to ramp up security and prevent possible terrorist attacks during the Summer London Olympics, The Ministry of Defence have issued leaflets to residents at an East London flat complex informing them that surface-to-air missiles may be placed on top of their homes.

Other locations selected from over 100 possible sites around London are the Lexington Building in Tower Hamlets, the Fred Wigg Tower in Waltham Forest, Blackheath Common, Oxleas Wood, the William Girling Reservoir in Enfield and Barn Hill in Epping Forest.

These particular missiles can travel up to three times the speed of sound. Bit like Dwain Chambers on drugs then. Not only that, their range is more than 3 miles and they only cost £1 billion. That’s definitely one way to stop Jehovah’s Witnesses banging on your front door at 8 in the morning- where do they get their energy to do that on a Monday morning? I suppose, on the bright side of things it would save you having to buy a security system.

That being said, it’s not like the MOD gave residents the option of whether they’d approve. No talking meerkat, no annoying salesman in an overpriced suit, greased-up hair and frightening white teeth, whipping out his business card. “Would you like to be part of the London 2012 Olympics for no extra cost, except maybe the lives of you and your family? We can offer you exclusive deluxe missile services and we’ll even throw in 10 officers plus the assistance of the police 24/7 for FREE! But hurry, it’s only available for 3 weeks! …In case of a terrorist attack, terms and conditions may apply.”

I’m sure if Philip Hammond tried to sell it like that, he’d be slapped down by Flash Bristow, the chairwoman of Ferndale area residents’ association, who reminded us that there are three schools situated in the area. “I find it shocking we could even contemplate hosting missiles on residential tower blocks during peacetime,” she said.

Defence and security editor Sam Kiley said, “They are rehearsing all of the worst-case scenarios. Among the doomsday scenarios is somebody in a light aircraft loaded with a bomb who wants to plough it into the stadium, or a high jacked airliner.” The person with his finger on the trigger and the authority to give the go-ahead if a ‘doomsday scenario’ occurs is none other than Mr David Cameron. It’s reassuring to know the same school boy bully who told an 80 year old veteran Labour MP on Monday “to take his pension” and retire is given responsibility to fire missiles – a life threatening moment which will potentially affect thousands of lives. If that doesn’t fill you with confidence, I don’t know what will.

General Nick Parker, the big boss leading the military’s role in the Olympics, said he hoped most people regarded the military as a “very benign presence”. He’s right about that; there’s nothing more benign than over 23,000 armed forces in the streets of London and your occasional friendly neighbourhood sniper lurking on your mate’s rooftop.

When experts believe the defence missiles “don’t work in poor weather”, I’m sure this makes Londoners feel increasingly safer on the streets and they find this terrifically useful, especially in England with its unpredictable weather and random burst of showers even on the hottest day of the year.

This latest absurdity by the Ministry of Defence just adds to why I love living outside of London. Cheaper houses, less pigeons and now the new entry in my list, they don’t put missiles on our rooftops.

I have a much more economically friendly approach to the Olympics:

1) If there’s that much of a threat where we have to resort to missiles in East London, why are we even having the Olympics here? Surely the safest and cheaper option would have been to withdraw our bid and spend the ever-growing sum on more important ways of protect the welfare of UK citizens, like offering more funding to domestic violence services, youth clubs and care homes.

2) Another obvious way to ensure our safety would be to limit the reasons for people wanting to attack us in the first place. To name but a few, there’s a lot of pissed off Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans and Bahrainis out there due to our ‘liberating’ foreign policy. In a nutshell, don’t colonialise, invade, occupy, ethnically cleanse, murder, bomb or enter any land and most likely outcome is that they’ll reciprocate in this peace treaty.

3) These ‘security measures’ are supposedly meant to make us protected – that’s just plain silly. Nothing about this militarised lock down police state situation is making anyone feel safer.

What would make me feel safer is a NHS that I can rely on that isn’t privatised, auctioned off to the highest bidder or a two tier health service installed and the reassurance that I’ll have a job awaiting me having spending 4 years at university and having racked up about 18 grand in debt.

and finally,

4) Personally, I would scrap all the missiles. Instead, why not strap Michael Gove and Eric Pickles to the Big Ben and make them sing a Justin Bieber song wearing Lady Gaga outfits? That’d scare off any potential terrorist attack. Then again, that could cause a million more…