G4S boss is perfect scapegoat for a state-sponsored fiasco
By failing to control immigration, Labour created the conditions that have defeated Nick Buckles
NICK BUCKLES, the managing director of G4S, has the makings of the perfect scapegoat for the Olympics security fiasco. The sort of man you would avoid meeting at a greyhound track in East London turns out to be the man put in charge of security at the Olympics by the last government.
Buckles has fessed up on national television, making no excuses, but pointing the finger gently at the current government for being slow in making key decisions.
In some ways his performance in the media over the last few days has been impressive. He seems honest and realistic compared with our low-grade politicians and civil servants. But ultimately you get the feeling (with his vast salary and benefits) he's not losing too much sleep – Bob Diamond without the remorse (and with the hairstyle of a young David Cameron).
It's difficult to understand why ministers didn't work this out earlier. Hugh Robertson, the Olympics minister, was a Major in the Life Guards. He knows how it works. One Sergeant Major using the ‘Mark One' eyeball, plus a clipboard and one sharpened pencil would have been able to tell him that G4S weren't up to scratch. Why didn't he check?
A big political punch-up is underway over this security fiasco. Labour, who secured the Olympics, are keen to portray the coalition government as screwing up their golden legacy.
The disastrous Labour government of 1997-2010 has a lot to answer for, still. It created the conditions which have defeated Nick Buckles and his company, making it almost impossible for him and his colleagues, however disreputable, to do their job properly.
The fact that this over-the-top security is needed in the first place is because we have lost that precious asset built up over a thousand years – national cohesion.
From 1066 until the election of Tony Blair in 1997 no one living in our country wanted to blow up their fellow subjects, except for a few Irish terrorists (who frankly had a good historical point even if they pushed it too brutally). Now, every day, we read of Islamist terrorist plots. Until very recently whatever grievances might have existed among Muslims were irrelevant to security in the UK. But not any more. Why? Uncontrolled immigration – a Labour legacy.
Few are willing to acknowledge this. The BBC, for instance, gave Buckles a hard time on Radio Four about the number of recruits to his company who couldn't speak English. No acknowledgement was made of the corporation's own relentless ideological opposition to border controls with all the cultural and security implications that the rest of us are having to deal with in our day-to-day lives.
Think how we delivered a secure Olympics 60 years ago. A few trustworthy young men and women in blazers and flannels - the more senior scouts and guides perhaps - all under the strict but benign control of a Captain Mainwaring figure, only too pleased to be of service to their country. They didn't need vetting or security clearances or instruction in the English language.
Today's fiasco also shows how we now live in a two-tier United Kingdom, separated by the new class barrier - those with snouts in the trough and those without snouts at all. Security for VIPs is not the responsibility of a lowly man-guarding company run by profiteering private sector conmen. David Cameron and his family don't have to rely on Buckles and his £8.50-an-hour operatives. His security, and while we are on the subject, the highly expensive security for Tony Blair, remains the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police.
If protecting the high and mighty can't be entrusted to the private sector, why should the rest of us, who actually pay the taxes to fund all this, make do with G4S?
One big question arises out of this cock-up. What should be a state activity and what shouldn't?
Security for the Olympics should have been a state activity all along. General Lord Dannatt, who was head of the army when London was awarded the Olympics in 2005, has said that the military immediately volunteered to run the security aspects of the games, but that this was rejected by the Labour government who preferred a private sector ‘solution'.
The British state bosses us around expensively but seems to have forgotten its core activities – indeed its reason for existing. Forget the mantra of delivering a secure Olympics. What about delivering a secure country?