Part and parcel of living in a well-organised, security conscious country are contingency plans. We all have contingency plans. They are sensible, practical, useful things for when things go wrong. I have a contingency plan for when I lock myself out of the house (my wife). politics.co.uk's editor, Ian Dunt, has a contingency plan for if he fails to buy, possess or procure any kind of writing implement. He just steals my pens.
Now we have learned that parliament has a contingency plan for if armed terrorists launch a 'Mumbai-style' attack on the Palace of Westminster. The details were circulated to all who spend their days toiling away on the parliamentary estate, which includes politics.co.uk's editorial staff. Journalists have been discouraged from printing details of the plan, but it would be both fair and accurate to state that the running-away option is being positively encouraged. Don't hang around, we're told.
"We have contingency plans to cover a range of emergencies, of which this is one," a House spokesperson will say. "It does not relate to a specific threat. We do not comment in detail on security matters."
I was in parliament on July 21st 2005, when police officers thwarted a potential terrorist attack. The place was locked down quickly and efficiently. In a fast-moving situation like Mumbai, the atmosphere would be less calm. But at least, amid the chaos, all those present will be able to think: 'At least I once received an email about this.'