There has been outrage at the idea that the Ministry of Defence is selling corporate boxes at £10,000 a go to watch the pageant celebrating the 100th birthday of Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Windsor. Quite right, too. What is the matter with our sleepy top brass that they have failed to exploit their commercial opportunities? Several sponsors would no doubt be interested in taking large hoardings in prominent positions during the BBC's six-hour coverage of the happy event.
This is only the tip of an iceberg of potential public revenue. When will we get the Cornhill Axa Changing of the Guard? Or what about the Tetley's Bitter Red Arrows? (We already have the Bank of Scotland Edinburgh Tattoo.) There is plenty of space on uniforms for sponsors' logos. Guns could be "made possible by..." and bullets "brought to you by..."
The Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, must get in touch with Professor Ken Binmore at once. He knows a thing or two about maximising the income from selling intangible public assets, having devised the auction for third-generation mobile phone licences. Put him on the case, and the MoD would be a net contributor to the Exchequer within months.