Thursday, 1 November 2007
A place fit for...expenses...
Yesterday was a particularly fine day for getting around London on foot. I had a meeting in Cavendish Square, and another in Victoria, but some time in between when I had several phone calls to make and nowhere to prop up the briefcase. So I walked, and headed for park benches wherever I could, and felt pretty good.
It was heart-raising to see the milling crowds after the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards ceremony at Clarence House. Good Kids those, and the glowing faces and flashing cameras all around exuded well deserved acclaim.
Later on, the walk back to Trafalgar Square took me up Whitehall, away from the House of Expenses. Just before The Cenotaph, everyone was directed by the Long Arm of the Law to the east side, and I saw quite a few workmen preparing The Cenotaph for Remembrance Day. It seemed a bit over the top (wrong expression, but meaningful), that we all had to trudge around, but the real reason was that Downing Street was under siege...from visitors!
There must have been at least fifty policeman watching the crowd, presumably more milling around unannounced, a huge gaggle of senior figures just outside the gates, even more inside, plenty of blue lights, lots of very, very busy politicians urgently looking at their watches and about 200 spectators. I sat on the low wall opposite, made a few more calls, and waited.
Around 3.00pm, the gates were swung wide and a flotilla of big black staff cars carrying King Abdullah and the rest, came out and swooped north towards the Rich Precinct. There was not a sound from anyone, and within minutes, the area was back to normal. What an expensive fuss about coming to meet Ed Balls! I reckon that half hour cost around £60,000 in time spent, organisation, expenses for politicians, and more police than you can shake a stick at – well, not shake a stick at under the circumstances...
Meanwhile, the workmen putting up the barriers at The Cenotaph toiled on quietly and efficiently, preparing a place where real Heroes are remembered.