by Chris Proctor
As a former Prime Minister, David Cameron is always accompanied by an armed guard. Given that he managed to put the entire nation at each other’s throats, left a legacy of mistrust and hostility and left open the door that enabled Boris to slip into Number 10, I can see why he would be concerned about his personal safety. In terms of popularity, he’s level pegging with Andy the Woking pizza fancier.
So when he went to New York last week, the Met provided one of its operatives to make sure the plane ride went smoothly.
A passenger squeezed into the plane’s loo to discover that the previous occupant, Cameron’s security guard, had left behind a handgun and David’s passport. Alarmed by the first and disgusted by the second, the innocent relief-seeker was seized by fright. Fortunately, he was in the right place.
What on earth can Cameron’s minder have been up to? We’ve not seen such incompetence from the Met since Carl Beech was interrogated.
It was explained that the handgun was left in the loo because the security supremo had ‘taken off his holster’. I concede that my familiarity with pistol containers is scant. But a cursory acquaintance with Z Cars and The Bill leads me to believe that gun holsters are traditionally carried somewhere around the armpit region.
I wonder if you could do something for me? Try draping the strap of a mini-handbag over your right shoulder, the bag itself hanging to the left. OK? Got that?
Now attempt to go to the toilet.
Easy peasy, isn’t it? Bar major deviations from the norm in the protuberance department, it is perfectly feasible to undertake ablutions whilst conveying a small container on a narrow strap. So why did the Met bloke have to take his holster off?
And that's not all. Perhaps you would undertake a further experiment? This time I would like you to insert two passports into your pocket and repeat the exercise of trying to go to the toilet.
It’s my guess you’ll be fine. Unless you work for the Met, that is. In which case you will need to remove the passports and drop them somewhere. Anywhere, in fact.
Yes, some of my confusion may result from my having no experience of any class of air travel bar bog basic. In economy, the space allocated to toiletry activities is approximately the same as that normally assigned to a caged hamster. Anyone over five feet tall is best advised to hang on until touch-down. Even visitors below this height are obliged to reverse out of the facility, there not being sufficient space for a 360-degree rotation.
Thus I find it difficult to see how anyone can leave anything in an airplane loo. A handgun would take up approximately 25% of the entire space in economy class. Do passengers in First and Business enjoy provisions so vast that it is possibly to scatter belongings randomly around the bathroom fittings, making it feasible that, on leaving, you could take a quick glance around the premises without noticing you’ve left a few AK-47s and several reams of personal documentation?
It all seems very suspicious to me. I wonder if they are looking after David properly?
Obviously, the man’s disliked. And to be fair, he did everything he could to achieve this.
But is it reasonable that because we don’t care for him, we use our most incompetent coppers as his bodyguards? Retired Chief Superintendent Dai Davis, former head of the Met Police's Royal Protection Group, said he felt that the chap in question was not entirely up to the job.
He also confirmed that it was a disciplinary offence to lose a pistol.
This was a relief, of course. But then Dai the detective rather oddly added, 'It's fair to say we are all human but unfortunately being a police officer and being a human don't always go hand in hand when you're carrying a gun.’
I’ve no idea what this might mean, but it certainly sounds sinister.
I shall keep an eye open for the calibre of officer allocated to look after political figures, as their competence seems to be a reflection of their standing with the Establishment. We should have seen the trend when Jeremy was assigned a partially-sighted traffic warden and John McDonnell was given a cardboard cut-out of The Simpson’s Chief Wiggum.
Chris Proctor has been head of communications at ASLEF and the Communication Workers Union, written for the Sunday Times, The Guardian, the New Statesman and Tribune, and is a columnist for the NUJ’s magazine The Journalist.