Echo WHAT to Charlie WHO?

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. A regular blue-jacketed Tube worker at Victoria Station, radio’ing a colleague: “Echo Bravo to Charlie Tango…”


The guy wasn’t police, or even security. He was just a train station worker in a blue vest with the roundel logo, probably in charge of classifying litter by size or something. Yet like so many quangoes and pseudo-authorities in the Blair/Brown surveillance state, he claimed the false authority of codewords and jargon.

What’s wrong with “Oi, Fred, are you there?

Why on earth would minor officials of a local transport system be using language specifically designed to exclude and elevate? Of course, the answer’s obvious: I just don’t want to accept it.

I mean, it’s a great organisational behavioural strategy for any police state – witness the cop-style uniforms adopted by the RSPCA and Community Relations Officers (the first is an animal charity, the second assistants to cops with no powers of arrest, but both put on airs of authority and give you that we-know-where-you-live look.)

But if you look at any developing police state, this is one of the things they do first: create an ‘officer class’ of little people empowered to sneer at you and make your life very, very difficult if you offend them.

Echo Bravo to Charlie Tango – this is how freedom dies. In a cloud of codewords spoken behind your back, just loud enough for you to hear.

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