Yesterday afternoon, the driver of a Private Hire vehicle apparently lost control of his car on Exhibition Road in Kensington. The vehicle struck two other cars and several pedestrians; Exhibition Road is a shared space area which has proved controversial since its conversion recently. But because a car had struck pedestrians, all those out there on a hair trigger threw caution to the winds and called it as a terrorist attack.
Aftermath of the crash as the driver is detained
This appallingly irresponsible behaviour was most revealing. It separated the responsible part of the press and punditry from the crowing vultures. And the problem was that the vultures had access to worryingly large constituencies - not just here in the UK.
Typical of the vultures was Mail Online, with the screaming headline “Taxi driver 'deliberately mows down pedestrians' after mounting the pavement outside London's Natural History Museum before being pinned to the ground and arrested in front of stunned tourists”. He wasn’t a taxi driver, but hey ho. This was later changed to “Pixie Lott's fiance Oliver Cheshire tells how he tackled 'screaming Uber driver' after cab with three girls in mows down 11 people near London's Natural History Museum as police reveal it was not terrorism”. Shouldn’t have made the claim if they didn’t know.
Not to be outdone, the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun told their readers “Taxi driver ‘deliberately’ rams pedestrians outside museum”. This was soon amended to “Taxi driver outside Natural History Museum hits pedestrians leaving 11 injured as pics show a blood-soaked man pinned to the ground”, which was still doubly dishonest - he still wasn’t a taxi driver, and wasn’t “blood soaked” either.
But at least these outlets - eventually - performed a reverse ferret. Sadly, one self-promotion specialist did no such thing; within two hours of the accident, and without bothering to find out what really happened, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was on the phone to his pals at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
“.@Nigel_Farage: ‘This individual has been captured. In fact it was the public who first pinned him down.’ #London” they proclaimed, dishonestly calling Farage “Brexit Leader”. He never was, he isn’t, and he’s never going to be. And Mr Thirsty then told his followers who done it: “We have 3,000 suspected terrorists living in the UK & 23,000 people known to security services who could do us harm”. It was the Scary Muslims (tm)!
But it wasn’t, so Farage grumpily wound his neck in, although he made sure to tell anyone still listening that he was right all along: “Met say incident in South Ken is a traffic collision. But huge police response shows the state of high alert the country finds itself in”. Yeah, terrorists, see? Nudge, nudge, wink wink, know what I mean, say no more.
All those who really believe it was a terror attack, and now believe the Metropolitan Police, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, and the broadcasters are keeping something from them get their paranoid state of mind from somewhere. Where that may be has been superbly demonstrated by the knee-jerk and grotesquely irresponsible behaviour of those in the press and the punditry who should know better, but don’t give a stuff.
The worst aspect is that this will happen again. And again. And that’s not good enough.