Anti-Cameron protest, Turner Contemporary (74 pics)
The Tories don't exactly have a good track record when it comes to the flagrant squandering of public money. While driving the mentally ill, disabled, desperate, vulnerable and poor to despair and often suicide with increasingly severe and barbaric cuts aimed at saving a relatively small amount of cash, they think nothing of throwing vast sums at pointless nonsense, much of which benefits wealthy public schoolboy chums.
So it probably shouldn't come as too big a surprise that when the hugely unpopular David Cameron visited Margate to 'cut the ribbon' and open the ugly blight on the Thanet coastline that is the London Array wind farm, all sorts of convoluted and no doubt very expensive tricks were used to ensure he got in and out of the Turner Contemporary without having to face the crowd of protesters waiting outside to greet him.
Dozens of police surrounded the Turner. Likewise private security bods. Lots of very obvious spooks tried and failed to look unobtrusive at various points around the gallery. A 'select' audience was chosen for the private function which closed the public car park, and this seemed to include very few people from Margate. Helicopters came and went. Several (obviously deliberate) false alarms went up that Cameron had arrived. It was as though a much hated dictator like Robert Mugabe was due to appear, rather than the democratically elected leader of a free country.
Finally at some time around 9.45am, a Land Rover suddenly screeched along Margate seafront and dangerously lurched on two wheels into the Turner car park. I think the driver had probably been watching old episodes of the Sweeney. The vehicle was there and gone so fast that the waiting press snappers barely had a chance to think about getting a shot.
The activity and general demeanour of the gathered police and security were meant to suggest this was Cameron arriving. But it wasn't. The prime minister wasn't in this car. When it left approximately an hour later, I was one of the very few people who got any kind of picture of the occupants of the Land Rover. None of them was David Cameron.
I suspect he either left via the rear entrance, where further police, security and undercover officials loitered near two black Mercs, or was in one of the various helicopters that came and went. I would be very interested to know how much this decoy pantomime cost to put on. And what the overall cost of this one short visit cost taxpayers. Given that Cameron is out and about all the time, huge sums of money must be spent smuggling him into and out of locations so he never has to face the increasingly angry public he is supposed to represent.
Take a look at the photo above. The guy in the back seat, adjusting his tie in exactly the same manner Cameron does, is clearly not the prime minister. The man to his left wasn't Cameron. The passenger next to the driver wasn't Cameron. And the driver, obviously, wasn't Cameron. Was he in the following silver vehicle (with blacked out rear windows)? Possibly but I doubt it. Was he in fact being spirited away via another exit? Almost certainly.
David Cameron is a spineless coward. When Ed Miliband visited nearby Deal, he had only a PA and an aide with him and was quite happy to rub shoulders with the local people. I'm not a big fan of Miliband's but at least he had the balls to get out there and not hide behind a wall of secrecy and police protection. Cameron, on the other hand, knows how much he's hated. He must have heard the constant loud barracking of the protesters outside while he was schmoozing with his 'select' mates. Many of those pals looked distinctly uneasy when they had to face the banner waving group.
The whole scene perfectly summed up modern Britain. The poor, the normal members of the public, the plebs were kept outside on the streets of one of the UK's most deprived and run down towns while the privileged whooped it up on champers and prawn sandwiches inside the Turner, kept safe from the baying mob by police whose wages are paid by us, the taxpayers.
Thatcher would have been proud.