..and I'll show you something that'll make you change your mind.
London used to have monumental traffic jams. It still has some, but they have reduced considerably since it introduced what it calls the Congestion Charge, which means that every time you drive your car into central London you have to pay – before midnight that day - £8 ($14) per entry. If you forget – and we all do sometimes, they slap a £50 fine on you. But I don’t object: it mostly keeps the traffic moving and makes it possible to find a parking space within walking distance of Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.
A number of foreign embassies, by some right they have dreamed up for themselves which is not in the Geneva Convention, do not pay their charges and ignore the subsequent fines. The list is made up mostly of impoverished African and eastern countries – and the USA. The embassy is not disputing the sum owing – they just haven’t agreed to pay it.
This is not about money – a few hundred thousand dollars won’t make much difference to the City of London’s coffers, and certainly wouldn’t be missed by a nation spending billions a day fighting terrorism. No, it’s about principle. Now we know that Tony B. Liar won’t ask George for the money because Tony uses the same brand of toothpaste as George, and does not like the Mayor of London, (who makes a habit of thrashing Tony’s nominees for the job), and would love to see the city in financial difficulty. So do me a favour George, pay up. It would not only be a nice gesture to your coalition partner whose troops are fighting alongside yours; it would be one in the eye for Tony – and it would also seem an inexpensive way to improve your country’s image in this city. Which is something a lot of people care about.
(The United Arab Emirates have agreed to pay their backlog - a mere $150,000.)