I want to return today to freedoms lost. Many of us feel we now live in a surveillance society. Some would add that now it feels as if we are in the EU prison camp, made to dance to the tunes of Brussels regulators in so many areas of our lives.
I have recently enjoyed a few days holiday in the Scilly Islands. I returned there partly because the worst features of our bossy boots society have not yet spread to this English haven. I like to spend my holiday pounds at home.
For me the holiday begins the moment I step onto the small Twin Otter plane at Southamptom for the flight to St Mary’s. This year I was struck very forcefully by the contrast between the Scilly way and the Southampton way, and was so grateful the clumsy surveillance and security society has not yet caught up with St Mary’s airport.
At Southampton now, so much money has been spent on “security” that the passenger experience is no longer easy or enjoyable, in a way it could be at a small airport. You are no longer able to drop your bags or passengers off from the car outside the airport door. Someone has decided that a 20 seat plane flying English people within their own country is some kind of terrorist target. Why? When was there ever any intelligence to suggest that the 10.30 am from Southampton to St Mary’s was a number one target? Now we have to go through the business of taking off belts, putting everything through scanners, throwing away any bottles or tubes with more than 100ml of fluids, as if we were wanting to go on a jumbo to a high risk destination. There is no sense of proportion, no exploration of the risks.
It is made to look silly by the return flight. At St Mary’s there are no security scans, no lectures on water bottles. You can keep your jacket and your belt on. I doubt anyone suspicious or anything worrying would escape the experienced eyes of the people handling the tickets and baggage. It is refreshing to deal with people who want you to enjoy a good holiday and who send you back home with happy memories rather than with a security lecture ringing in your ears. They make commonsesne judgements of risk. There has been no terrorist attack on a flight from the Scillies.
My fear is that the new Southampton is the future, not St Mary’s. If they need more money to improve St Mary’s airport doubtless the security people will crawl all over them,making the project dearer and the experience less enjoyable for holiday makers. There is already evidence of the bossy mainland society imposing its will on the islands. Two improved quays have appeared. They had to have ugly metal fences to segregate motor vehicles from pedestrians, on small islands with practically no cars. They have painted signs to tell you exactly how you have to walk down to the quay and get onto the boat, on a quay where the boat will nonetheless tie up at different points depending on the state of the tide. If you follow the painted signs you can end up unable to get on the boat! I wonder who thought that nonsense up and made us pay good money for it.