The Lady Novelist is somewhat perturbed. Academic life permits the odd moment of looking beyond one’s desk: in the ten minutes before giving a lecture this morning, I am pretty certain that I saw a story on the BBC Web-News which made a number of points of which this was the first: that President Bush, having been invited by the Government, should have the visit paid for by the Government and not by the London taxpayer (given how expensive it is likely to be). This suggests that the source of the opinion was Richard Barnes, deputy chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), who apparently said as much on the ‘Today’ programme, which I don’t listen to. But the article I read said a great deal more, and this article seems to have been buried full fathoms five: I am quite a good searcher on the whole, and ‘Bush visit bill’, ‘President Bush visit’, ‘Bush London visit’ are entirely failing to turn up what I remember reading. The source of opinion quoted, presumably Barnes, also said that the security ops surrounding Bush must be entirely in the hands of one group, i.e. the Met –– a perfectly reasonable view given that the alternative scenario might well result in CIA and Government snipers taking one another out from opposing rooftops.There are going to be 700 US security staff, mostly armed, washing about central London, so trying to keep central command in one pair of hands is no more than common sense, though I am sure the American security forces will not see it that way. The story also suggested that the commons of England might still be entitled to have a view, which is not a view I have heard expressed by any arm of government for quite some time. It also endorsed, even encouraged, legitimate political protest, stating that it was not the Met’s business to shield the President of the US from the views of the British people. I note also that the Met refuses to guarantee immunity from prosecution to any individual who imagines that he or she has spotted an A-Rab and puts one of these guns to use. I may have been hallucinating, but the story in the form in which I read it does not now seem to be easily accessible, though some of the data therein is in other stories I have found. Was it pulled, or was it pushed? Do any of you media-watchers have any ideas or am I temporarily crazed by reading about skulduggery, corruption and manipulation in early Byzantium? Enough to make you see conspiracy in a bowl of custard, I assure you.

2 Responses to “Amnesia”

  1. Arnold Says:

    No, you weren’t hallucinating. I don’t know what BBC News may or may not have said, but the story can be found on the Metropolitan Police Authority’s own website, at

    ‘Speaking about President Bush’s state visit to London, Toby Harris, chair of the MPA, said: “It is vital that the following principles underpin the President’s visit to our capital next week. First, disruption to London should be kept to a minimum level consistent with an adequate level of policing. Second, the costs of policing a state visit such as this should be borne by central government rather than London’s council-tax payers. The democratic right to legitimate, non-violent protest should be facilitated wherever possible. Last and most importantly, security and policing arrangements must at all times remain under the operational control of the Commissioner.’”

  2. Janey Says:

    It is not often that one finds oneself inclined to stand up and cheer for the Metropolitan Police, but good for Mr Harris.

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