Nato Cardiff: is this what democracy looks like?
I live in North London and central Cardiff something that seems to surprise some of my social media followers but is explained by the nature of my job as a union officer and the fact that my partner happens to live in Cardiff…
Next week on 4/5th September there is a Nato Summit meeting, not in Cardiff but at the Celtic Manor hotel outside Newport on the M4.
I’m no fan of Nato. It contains the word ‘treaty’ in its name and history suggests that treaties are an excellent way of starting wars. In addition it appears to be run largely by people who have more than a passing similarity to Dr Strangelove. Of course its opponents are mostly unlovely as well.
Anyway if you are going to have a Nato summit and lots of, at the least, self styled statesmen [& no doubt an occasional woman] are going to attend then Celtic Manor is a good venue. High up above the M4 it is quite easily protected from those who might feel a democratic protest is in order.
At some point someone had the idea that perhaps while Nato was in Newport it would be a good idea for the whole lot to visit Cardiff and have a banquet in the Castle.
The Castle is in the centre of Cardiff, partly ancient and largely nineteenth century folly but an impressive structure nonetheless.
Those who live and work in London are used to events involving world leaders and security disruption for a relatively short period either side of the visit. It is annoying but life goes on.
In Cardiff the world, it seems, goes on rather differently.
A giant steel fence has been erected in the road outside the castle, roads have been blocked off and buses re-routed from 13th August to 17th September. Yes, you read that right. For a two day Nato visit in another location, there needs to be a security clampdown in Cardiff for over a month. Apparently.
This of course is a giant waste of public money. One hopes no more talk will be heard of austerity measures and cuts while this kind of thing goes on.
It also suggests something of a contempt for ordinary people in South Wales. After all compared to central London where security measures come and go quickly, nobody much important is to be found so why not inconvenience them for a month and more?
It would be fair to say that there is much talk on the buses and in the pubs of Cardiff about all this and none of it is positive.
Of course daily life in the City does goes on, but the impression it creates is not a good one.
One hopes that the authorities display similar energy and resources in facilitating the various protests that are planned at the Nato summit over the next week.
In the meantime if you want to know what democracy looks like in Cameron’s Britain take a trip to Cardiff over the next few days. It is not a marvellous, or necessary, sight.