Thursday, April 14, 2005

Pomp and Circumstance

Should VIPs suffer the same indignities as everyone else? mnot reports a Tempest in a Teacup, concerning the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament), and Australian airport security.

It's partly a question of trust. People get searched because the System doesn't trust them. Anyone might be carrying a weapon or contraband; anyone might be travelling on false papers.

Australian airport security is supposedly egalitarian - everyone gets searched, even Prime Ministers. Many politicians pretend to undergo these minor inconveniences with good spirit, because it makes it seem that they don't think themselves any better than the common people who elected them. But some are insulted, because it suggests that they cannot be trusted. And it's not just a personal insult, it's an insult to the people and institutions they represent. Ha!

Even Tony Blair's friends don't fully trust him*, but even his worst enemy wouldn't expect him to hi-jack an aeroplane. Why would he, when he can just as easily hi-jack the United Nations? Prime Ministers don't need to carry their own weapons. They can start a war against Afghanistan or Iraq, but we still have to frisk them for nail scissors when they get onto an aeroplane.

* for political balance, I should add that the same is true of Michael "something of the night" Howard