In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything. For example, take the serendipity of the terror raid that arrested numerous Pakistani nationals and produced countless column inches on the death and mayhem that had been prevented. God bless the police, let's move on from all that nasty protest repression and dead paper seller business.
The press in particular seemed rather well informed about what these near-do-wells were about... in which case they might want to pass any evidence they have on to the police because the suspects have all been released without charge. Not a single one of them charged, let alone convicted, of any crime at all. Arrested days after a death at the hands of the police and released for budget day - that's pretty sweet media work.
Brown claimed a "very big plot" had been uncovered. Perhaps he was referring to an unusually large allotment these men had been clearing.
One officer told The Times "these men were planning something major. It was not clear when or where they would strike, but they were collecting material for a large explosion." Is possession of large amounts of explosives no longer an offence - or was this bollocks?
Local newspapers across the nation were able to run unusually juicy stories rather than the normal "pig wins prize" fare. For instance the Manchester Evening News said that "RAIDS by anti-terror police across the north west were part of an operation to prevent al-Qaida launching a 'spectacular' act of mass murder, the M.E.N. can reveal." The paper has a handy list of places where you might get blown up any moment now. "Supporters of al-Qaida have previously targeted shopping centres, public venues, public transport and airlines." Well thank goodness the police got there first then.
CNN were splendidly double thinky in their coverage when they breathlessly announced that a plot had been foiled but that "The new plot was not believed to be targeting national infrastructure, such as rail lines, airports or utilities, nor was it clear if the plot was to involved bombs or an assault involving gunmen". Maybe the plot involved sarcasm? Or yogic flying? As yet CNN is still at the 'narrowing down the options' phase I guess, so we'll have to wait and find out exactly what dastardly deeds were afoot.
The Express declared that the raids proved that Britain is a "haven for fanatics". Do these releases prove that it isn't? The Express appears to have no opinion on this at the time of writing. Intriguing.
When the Evening Standard said that "POLICE smashed an alleged al Qaeda bomb plot" perhaps they would have been better moving that alleged so that it read "POLICE allegedly smashed an al Qaeda bomb plot" because right now there appears to be no evidence that the police have smashed anything - apart from a few faces, obviously.
I think the Daily Mail has the quote to end all quotes though;
That's just the perfect Zen quote for the Mail. "They looked like students... I was terrified."
One student, Nicholas Higgins, who was working on his dissertation, said: 'The tannoy said, "Students, please keep away from the windows, log off and move away from the windows", so at first we thought it was to do with drugs.
'But they came on again and told us what was going on - there were terrorists outside, and to keep away from the windows because they may have got a bomb on them.
'I saw two men lying on the floor, hands behind their back, surrounded by police, police all around with their guns round them.'They looked like students, they had combats on, outdoor jackets like a Berghaus-type on. I was stunned, I was terrified.'
But here's the thing. Nine of the eleven men arrested are to be deported in the interests of "national security". Now, this is blatantly and absolutely the wrong thing to happen for one of two reasons;
Either they are plotting a terrorist spectacular in which case sending them home with a little cake simply allows them to continue their evil work or...Deportation allows the police to distract the press from their incompetence either way. I mean they wouldn't deport innocent men would they? If these men are terrorists they should be locked up, not sent to the terrorist training camp capital of the world surely?
They aren't terrorists and therefore should not be the subject of this kind of action.