The security of visiting Heads of State is always a troublesome issue. The planned visit by President Bush is no exception. Mr Bush heads an administration which waged war on another country, supported at home but opposed by many of America’s traditional allies.
London was the scene of some of the largest demonstrations in Europe, the pictures of which were broadcast around the world. It is unthinkable that Bush would be unaware of views of the anti-war movement.
It is natural that the US security forces wish to be involved in the protection of their President. It is wrong of Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North and a Stop the War to talk of an “invasion of our capital by the Americans”. Longstanding arrangements will be in place covering such matters and there are reciprocal arrangements for when the British Prime Minister visits Washington.
The security arrangements for Mr Bush’s visit must reflect, and be equal in scale, to those imposed on US citizens during Mr Blair’s visits. President Bush is a guest of our nation. As hosts we have an obligation to ensure the safety of all our guests. No-one’s cause would be furthered by an attempt, successful or otherwise, on the life of the President.
However, Democracy was one of Mr Bush & Mr Blair’s reasons for removing Saddam and Democracy requires that UK citizens opposed to the actions endorsed by their Government be allowed to make their protests. Such protests should, in the best traditions of our City, be peaceful, well managed and properly policed.