Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A reassuring presence?

We are now all back at Westminster. Came in on the bus this morning and immediately spotted four policemen. Within a minute I had walked past or spotted another eight. Did somebody know something I didn't?
When the police presence increased after 9-11 I was told that it was something called "Operation Calm". The effect on me was anything but - because to me an increased police presence means that trouble is suspected.

It was also noticeable that the nature of the police around the parliamentary estate has also changed since I was first elected. In 2000 we were surrounded by friendly types who were happy to pass the time of day, quickly knew everyone and were often seeing out the remining time to retirement. It was a comfortable world.

Now we have gun toting macho types (why are they all men?) who look as though they would be really handy in a fight. I know that I would welcome their presence if there was ever an incident but something about the place changed and it makes me sad.

I have not yet wandered along to the Chamber to see the new security measures that are in place there but I remain convinced that we should all wear our passes and the Prime Minister should set an example. Many of my colleagues think they are too important for such practicalities but this puff-headedness means that we do not have a pass wearing culture here at Westminster and, to my mind, that is a bad thing.

I have just realised why the police were out in force. Fox hunting (bill) is in the Lords today.