This article is from the May issue of Total Politics
As I stood before Her Majesty’s Throne in the House of Lords, I explained to a small group of visiting constituents that Boris Johnson was in fact fifth in line to the throne, three places ahead of David Cameron. The baby-faced policeman standing a few feet away was bored, and rather than correct me when one of my group looked to him with a questioning frown, the boy in blue simply nodded in agreement.
Plans to charge £15 per head for a Big Ben tour were overturned not too long ago. If it had been down to me, we’d be charging for all tours. Anything to put people off calling the office and asking for 40 places on a date three weeks away. I’ve lost count how many times a headteacher has sworn that all days between, say, February and April are fine, but then turns down four separate bookings due to teacher training day, school exams or blah blah blah. I had stopped listening by that point. I’m neither a tour operator nor a tour guide, despite my perky disposition.
If I was having a particularly bad day (and I often am) I would go so far as to suggest charging tourists just to take a photo of the clock tower from the street. Harsh, yes, but if it helps to clear the street outside Westminster tube station and save me from nearly breaking my nose when the happy camper in front of me suddenly stops, then it’s worth it.
This attitude won’t sit well with most, but I’d bet my £20 gift voucher from IPSA that each and every parliamentary staffer would sign an e-petition for it, were I bored enough to create one.