NATO comes to town

I live in Cardiff, and – even though the summit is supposed to be in Newport, at the garish, Colditz-lookalike, Celtic Manor (a few miles up the road from here) – my home town is in virtual lock-down.

“Wait” I hear you cry, “isn’t the NATO summit not until early September?” Yep, but they are putting high steel fences around the Castle and the Welsh Collage of Music & Drama (both are hosting dinner/events, on September 3rd & 4th) now, and causing traffic mayhem in the process. Central Cardiff resembles pre-demolition of the wall Berlin at present ….

It’s going to be a month of delays, of diversions and of frustration. Where the “World leaders” go, so do an army of media types (thereby guaranteeing no one gets served in the pub), and – worse – 9,500 (many armed) Policemen. “Great for the tourist trade”, you say? Possibly, but I’m not a hotelier.

Why is there still a NATO? Hasn’t the cold war been won, and the Warsaw Pact dissolved? It’s the North ATLANTIC Treaty Organisation; how the hell does Eastern Europe or Turkey have an interest in that? I’m certainly no fan of Vlad (the Impaler, or – as my dyslexic friend calls him – Vlad the Impala) Putin (never trust any man who strips to the waist and poses as often as he does), but even I feel he has a point when he says he feels threatened by the constant growth of US-led NATO. It’s virtually on his doorstep if Ukraine or Georgia join too …

All this hyper-security though reminds me of why politics is now so unpopular. Politicians, across the party divide, are distant. They keep themselves isolated from us, and have little connection with reality. Most live gilded lives in comparative luxury, and rarely come into contact with ordinary working people (other than the butler). They simply don’t see what we see, or feel what we feel. How the hell can they then claim to speak for you & me then?

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