My Great British Summit Cock-up Hell
I arrived at the "rendezvous" - a derelict car park - at 5am. I was security checked at 0504. I got on the coach at 0505. The coach was turned away from the Summit the first time at around 0520, again at 0525 and then got pre-turned away a third time at 0600. Then we went back to the rendezvous to find that ALL coaches containing accredited journalists had been turned away from the summit.
Grimness turned to humour but not for long. Our convoy attempted a second time to gain entry to the offsite place where we are allowed to get our security passes. But no, yet again the same policeman - and seemingly no communication. By this time various journalists were earbashing FCO and Downing Street press officers who thought they would be getting calls about a fiscal stimulus.
I am pleased to say that Newsnight, Sky and ITN all played a heroic role in the, shall we call it kerfuffle, that led to journalists leaving their buses and marching into the facility.
This three hour wait of course, and this level of hassle, rudeness and incomprehension by those in authority, is exactly what the poorest of the world have to put up with just to get into work, or get to a water source, every single day.
I am in the Excel centre now (arrival time 0800 - it is about half a mile from where I was at 0500), and I think they've probably managed to avoid a Dome style scenario, but the sight of journalists from countries we would call third world shaking their heads in disbelief makes this more than just a quirky twist to the start of the day.
The hierarchy here is: (i) police, (ii) civilians in bibs who work for various security firms, and then (iii) politicians, journalists and lastly (iv) the public. It is of course that middle layer of people suddenly empowered by hi-vis bib to obstruct those lower than themselves, but with no power to communicate or break through obstacles higher than themselves, that oversee chaotic events like this.
Suddenly I can understand very clearly why the British state does not want to run a major financial institution. I think the Germans could probably run a nationalised company decently, but we, the Brits, have this way of turning everything into a chaotic soul-less mess.
Sky News is calling it the Great British Cock-up. Jon Snow of Channel Four is voxing the foreign journalists on their views about the mess. At times like this I always think of Orwell: the genius of Nineteen Eighty Four is that it imagined what Britain would look like if it became a bureacratic collectivist dictatorship. I think I have just had a glimpse of it.