This Tuesday I went to the Welsh Assembly complex to participate in a talk given by Ben Dyson of Positive Money for Assembly Members (with a generous nine seats reserved for the commoners). The talk was being given in an unassuming room in an office building adjacent to the official glass Assembly building. I got there 30 minutes early, as did Ben and a few other local monetary reformers. Feeling the call of nature I stepped inside to use the washroom for a pee. And that’s where it started.
Just inside the doors were an elaborate security set up very similar to airport security when you are boarding international flights. The washroom was just on the the other side of the barrier, maybe twenty feet from the entrance, but would they simply let me use it for a a minute without elaborate and time consuming security checks? No.
I had to first remove my coat, and then empty all my pockets into a tray. The tray was then taken on a conveyor belt into a n X-ray machine where everything was examined. I then had to walk through a metal detector, all under the watchful and suspicious gaze of three security guards and a police officer.
When I remarked that I had experienced less probing security measures in countries that were in actually bloody civil war, and other countries that were ruled by despots, the policeman barked out at me “If you don’t like it – don’t come here!”. Message received.
And to think, all this for walking an extra ten feet into a public washroom for a pee!
Thirty minutes later, when I re-entered to attend the talk, I had to go through the whole rigmarole again!
Outside the building on the road were huge metal barricades preventing anyone from even driving close to the Assembly building. I asked the local security man and he explained their were ‘anti-assault tank barricades’. Clearly, the Welsh assembly was at war. But who is the enemy? It’s clearly the public, you and me.
Those of you who were born in the 90‘s may not realize that this is all very new. Wales and the entire Western world never used to be in a constant State of Emergency/War with surveillance, security checks and military barricades in places that should be open with easy public access. No where is openness and ease of access more important than in places housing democratically elected bodies of government.
Even during the Cold War, when there were Soviet spies everywhere and the whole world was on the brink of nuclear annihilation, we didn’t treat the public as a possible enemy to be subjected to security checks.
Those who claim that these heavy-handed security measures are now ‘necessary’ are either brainwashed or lairs.
Remember, you can kill a fascist despot with a bomb or a gun and possibly bring down the regime. But you cannot kill a democratic institution with violence. You can blow up a parliament and every elected representative in it – but you cannot destroy democracy. We’d simply elect another bunch to do our bidding 🙂
So why is the Welsh Assembly geared up as if it were in a State of War? Why is this “democratic” institution making it increasingly awkward for members of the public to visit?
The excuse you’ll get is that since 9/11, nobody is safe and and everyone should be:
- frightened (keep your head down, don’t make a scene or speak your mind);
- suspicious (don’t suspect a friend – report him!);
- prepared to have their privacy and dignity stripped away in the name of ‘safety’
- accepting of a continuous erosion of our freedoms as inevitable, and even desirable.
Like I said, I have been in countries run by fascist regimes and I have traveled through countries at war, but I have never been face to face with so much control, fear, and sheer contempt for the public.
In other words, the fascist control-freak types have used the excuse of “terrorist threats” to boss, control and keep an eye on everyone. No where is this more apparent than in the totally unnecessary and heavy-handed presence of “security” at the Welsh Assembly. Whether we care to admit it or not, the Assembly is becoming increasingly a fascist-like institution with a fundamental disrespect bordering on animosity to the public. So much for democracy. So much for ‘New Wales’. Down the tubes it goes.
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So what happened at the Positive Money talk to Assembly Members? Which Assembly Members even bothered to show up? Find out here: Money talks while Assembly Members plug their ears