The Power Triangle … don’t rock that boat now.


The map above shows the UK ‘power triangle’ with St James Park as its heartland. The three points of this triangle are the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. While some would say that it’s not clear what parliament stands for, what is more ambiguous today is what does Trafalgar Square currently stand for. Nelson stands high above representing British military victory & empire and of course the incredible wealth that flowed from the colonies of past. That’s all gone now with the only significant military power with a global reach being the United States.

Many public demonstrations end up in Trafalgar Square. Of course you have to register your demonstration with the police otherwise you’ll end up in the slammer. Protests as far back as the 1800s (even earlier) have converged on Trafalgar Square, some of them ending up in pitched battles with the police. It is quintessentially British that this physical triangle of organised power & descent be in such close proximity to each other.

It’s allowed to happen because it must reflect that British belief in themselves that their country invented modern day democracy. It works because the military are still based at its heart, literally …. on Birdcage Walk. The Metropolitian Police also have their HQ nearby in Scotland Yard. The power triangle has been well krafted and is carefully controlled. Does it work for the disgruntled citizen? Maybe. Just don’t rock that boat now.

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8 Responses to The Power Triangle … don’t rock that boat now.

  1. Pete Smith says:

    Reassuring to note that it’s going to take a sea-level rise of about 7 metres before your Devil’s Triangle starts to flood. Maybe that’s why there’s still no great sense of urgency about climate change in the corridors of power. Perhaps if we point out that by the time Whitehall starts getting a tad damp the 2012 Olympics site will be awash ….,-0.1253&z=3

  2. matt says:

    Great link Pete.

    Seven metres is a hell of a lot of Artic ice melt. Phew! Can sit back & relax then. The polar bears won’t be swimming past my door. 😉

  3. keithsc says:

    It doesn’t look too good south of the river – perhaps all the people on that side should move north?

  4. matt says:

    But the sea isn’t going to rise by 7 metres …. is it? I can’t find out where the data for Pete’s linked site comes from anyway!

  5. Pete Smith says:

    It probably isn’t, which is precisely my point about complacency amongst the denizens of your ‘power triangle’, snug behind the Thames embankment.

    The site enhances the Google Earth engine with elevation data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission project.

  6. matt says:

    I wonder also if London is one of the few port cities in the world to have some sort of flood defense system in place. Seems to me many major port cities are vunerable to increased storms, sea surges & combined with spring tides.
    Was reading for example about Jarkata still relying on old Dutch canal systems for protection. They have periodic flooding with the most recent seriously flooding half their city!

  7. Dave On Fire says:

    Sea levels are almost certainly not going to rise by 7 metres (this century, at least). However, the consequences of the metre or two rise we are predicting are more severe than one might assume. Higher seas, warmer and thus stormier than the ones we’re used to, will give the flash floods and storm surges you are referring to.
    The Thames barrier is not likely to be sufficient to protect London, but you’re right that London is better protected than many coastal cities, especially in the developing world. More tragic than Jakarta is the example of Bangladesh, densely-populated and already below sea level, where hundreds are killed in floods every year. Even a modest increase in sea level could see the whole country disappear.

  8. matt says:

    I was interested to see when recently reading an academic study about the history of flooding on the Malaysian Peninsula, that they believe floods there have become more intense over the last two decades. There it is monsoon rains that affect them predominantly. Kuala Lumpur has also been affected by the flooding from more intense monsoon rains.

    Their government has struggled to provide the flood defence infrastructure needed. They have been trying to put measures in place since a major flood of KL in 1973 forced the setting up of a commission to oversee its implementation.

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