'We are at Defcon 4'

Home secretary John Reid takes us another step closer to the US, with news that we’ll shortly have a five-point scale, to tell us all how terrified we should be.

From 1 August, the Home Office and MI5 websites will publish details of the national security alert level:  low, moderate, substantial, severe or critical. The BBC reports that we’ve been at ‘severe’ level, where a terrorist incident is considered ‘highly likely’, since August last year. (I suppose that’s like saying ‘we closed the stable door almost immediately after the horse bolted.’)

Apparently we didn’t get a colour-coded system like the Americans, because that was considered ‘unduly alarmist’. What, more alarmist than what we’re getting? Where we are ‘one away from crisis point’? I don’t know about you, but words like ‘severe’ make me pretty alarmed, much more so than (let’s say) ‘orange’.

Still, I suppose it’ll give us a shiny new e-government website to visit. It’s an ideal candidate for an RSS feed, actually: news-y but not published to a predictable schedule. As long as the Cabinet Office doesn’t order that all gov.uk sites carries details of the alert level. They wouldn’t, though… would they?