Monday, July 12, 2004

Clearing up a spot of bother

I really am getting cynical. Why did the news that the concrete blocks outside Parliament two years ago - to prevent a terrorist attack - could now actually benefit such an attack, come out today?

Hmm, let's see. What's on this week? Oh, today's the Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review, when he'll set out his stall to be the next PM. And then there's the slightly delicate matter of the Butler Report which will be published on Wednesday (but was leaked all over the weekend) and will criticise key officials and perhaps even Ministers, and the small matter of two by-elections on Thursday.

But with one story like this you neutralise the Chancellor's biggest day of the year (bar the Budget), deflect attention from the weak intelligence at the heart of the Iraq conflict and present the government as effectively tackling terrorism before an election.

Never mind that Ministers stressed the importance of these concrete blocks when they first went up. Does this bear any resemblance to the decision to send tanks to Heathrow in the weeks before we went to war last year for an unspecified threat?

And if Big Ben really could fall and crush the House of Commons, then why don't anti-terrorist chiefs do the most sensible thing, and close off the airspace above Parliament?

I wonder what will come next. Perhaps we'll find the glass screen in Strangers Gallery poses a risk if it shatters, forcing splinters into projectiles and skewering our elected representatives in the Chamber below. But sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. That will probably be used next year when there's another 'sticky' moment.

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