The Plastic Hippo

November 27, 2011

The Book of Gove

Filed under: Education,Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 2:45 am


This morning’s sermon is taken from The Book of Gove, Chapter IV, verses ii to v:

“And lo, it came to pass that the chosen one came amongst the great unwashed and did despair.

For those that did spill their seed on the ground heeded not the Word of Gove and did even yet worship the craven images of false gods.

Yea, the very spawn of base goatherds and beggars did covet the abomination of learning and did cry out in their anguish. Rending their garments and gnashing their teeth, they invited Satan into their houses and temples with a promise of Ungovely texts and instruction in the ways of sin.

But the merciful son of the Great Redeemer did show pity upon the wayward flock and in his munificence, did issue the Word of Gove to those that will be smiteth down and condemned to burn in the deepest pit of Hell.

Cameron smiled, and did see that it was good.”
Before entering politics, Michael Gove turned coin as a journalist, was happy to stand on picket lines during an NUJ strike and equally happy to write bile and invective on the behest of the Murdoch empire. Such a grounding in deception and delusion led, logically, to an abortive attempt at a career as a film star. This is not a joke.

Gove appeared in the 1995 British “comedy” A Feast at Midnight playing, of all things, a Chaplain at a repressive English public school. The plot concerns the tribulations of a small boy called Magnus, dumped into boarding school by some rich parents who would rather live in Paris. Astonishingly, Magnus seems to have “Gove” as a surname. I am not making this up.

Don’t bother searching for the scenes the real Gove appears in; they have been blocked by injunctions and the DVD has been edited to remove the contribution from the current Secretary of State for Education. The handful of people that actually saw the movie seem to agree that it was utterly dreadful apart from the performance by Christopher Lee as a “raptor” Latin master. Hey, Michael. How do you like your stake?

Now in government, Magnus, sorry – Michael, believes that sending a copy of the King James Bible, with a mercifully brief forward written by his good self, to every school in the country will somehow improve standards in education. Quite how a translation from Latin, Greek and Hebrew by Anglican clerics published in 1611 is relevant to the betrayed generation currently spoiling ridiculous government targets remains a mystery worthy of Methuselah. He died aged 969 and was the grandfather of Noah. It says so in the Bible so it must be true. One wonders what on earth they are putting into the food at the House of Commons canteen. What this goat’s rectum that calls itself Gove fails to understand is that we, as a people, are different from a public school hierarchy. When the slop is being served up, we are all saying “quizzing?” and “ego”.

For those intellectually challenged by not attending a public school, the Latin translation is; “Who wants more?” and “Me”. That would seem to be the “modus operandi” of the entire coalition government.

Gove, recently addressing a group of clever people at Cambridge said:
“We should recover something of that Victorian earnestness which believed that an audience would be gripped more profoundly by a passionate, hour-long lecture from a gifted thinker which ranged over poetry and politics than by cheap sensation and easy pleasures.”

Perhaps he should have screened the uncut version of A Feast at Midnight.

A close friend of the great W C Fields visited him as he lay on his death bed. The friend was surprised to find the comedian reading the Bible. “Bill”, he asked. “After your crazy life, what are you looking for in the Bible?” Fields looked at him over his spectacles and said:

“Loopholes.”

The blessed Michael Gove needs more than loopholes to save him from damnation.

November 22, 2011

An Englishman`s home

Filed under: Environment,Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 3:12 pm


Minister of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Charles Hendry certainly understands the importance of reducing our collective carbon footprint. In his world, we must reduce ours so that he can increase his.

A few months after coming to power in 2010, he said this:
“We have pledged to be the greenest government ever. We must lead by example. Leadership from government departments is something we cannot – and will not – shirk. We are not asking others to do things we will not do ourselves.”

Following a career as a PR executive, the last thing this son of a stockbroker is doing is shirking his responsibilities. After a hard week in Westminster cutting subsidies to solar power, reducing winter fuel allowances for the elderly and refusing applications for wind turbines, the guardian of our climate deserves a bolt-hole to gain some respite from the rising waters of nimbyism. Accordingly, he has purchased a modest pied-a-terre for weekend breaks and holidays away from the maddening crowd.

With an asking price of £2.5million, Blair Castle near Dalry in Ayrshire is clearly a necessity as a second home for a busy cabinet minster. He, his wife and his two children can now enjoy the peace and quiet of the 20 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms and outdoor heated swimming pool. When in opposition, the MP for Wealden in East Sussex, claimed £7,300 of tax payers money for wages paid to his servants at one of his other homes. He also claimed £1,300 for a new oil tank and regular £500 bills for oil. Tax payers also paid £90 per month to have his windows cleaned. In January this year, the Minister demanded that the OFT should investigate the cost of domestic heating oil. No self interest there then.

Clearly, what this proper Charlie does in his own home is his business and he is obviously allowed to spend his money as he sees fit. Sir Edward Coke, in 1628, enshrined in common law the concept of individual freedom for the home owner. He wrote in The Institutes of the Laws of England:
“For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium (and each man’s home is his safest refuge)”

Consider then, the plight of those less fortunate than Charles Hendry who cannot afford a first safe refuge let alone a castle for weekend use or those that face a simple choice between food and fuel this winter. The renters at the mercy of corrupt landlords and the homeless need not fear, our coalition of fools have come up with a plan.

As the planet still teeters on the brink of financial catastrophe brought about by toxic sub prime lending, our government has announced that more toxic sub prime lending is the way to return to prosperity. The tax payer will underwrite 95 per cent of first time mortgages and so at last, people without jobs or money can buy their very own castle at an artificially inflated price. After cutting £4billion from the housing subsidy, Gideon Osborne is giving £400million to property developers and the directors of construction companies. Does everyone understand the difference between a billion and a million?

Add to this the relaxation of planning procedures, the removal of the irritation that is the green belt and a denial of the thousands of unsold, empty and over priced dwellings and we have a housing policy designed to make the rich richer and make the poor sleep in doorways. Building new houses that nobody wants or can afford will only benefit the shareholders of building firms and reptilian developers and the jobs “created” in the construction industry will be short term and transitory. With an elitist oaf like Osborne in charge, the economy is built on sand.

Should Charles Hendry find the 430 mile Friday night journey from Westminster to Dalry in the back of the ministerial limo tedious, he can take comfort in the fact that the ironically named Blair Castle has a dedicated helicopter landing facility. Final approach should not be problem as there are unlikely to be any wind turbines on the spacious estate and the carbon footprint of his castle can be seen from outer space.

As Kermit the frog said: “It`s not easy being green.”

November 20, 2011

For those in peril on the sea

Filed under: Fiction,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 12:01 am


And now the shipping forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at 00-01 GMT today.

There are warnings of gales in all UK coastal waters.

The General Synopsis;
New lows in Rockall and Cameron deepening rapidly, expected Osborne by 0700 tomorrow.

Lows in FitzRoy, Clegg, Cable and Shires, losing their identities by May 2012.

Lows in Fair Isle, Miliband and Balls.

Viking, Brownhills, North Utsire, South Utsire
Southerly 4 or 5, occasionally 6 later. Moderate or good. Occasional rain. Moderate.

Forties, Aldridge, Cromarty, Forth
Veering west 5 or 6. Moderate. Rain. Poor.

Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, Streetly, Merkel, German Bight
Easterly gale 8. Moderate. Showers. Hopeless.

Humber, Thames, Dover, Pheasey
Westerly gale 10 imminent. Rough or very rough. Thundery showers. Good.

Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Delves
South to south east 2 or 3. Moderate. Fog patches. Undecided.

Biscay, Trafalgar, FitzRoy, Darlaston
South east 3 or 4. Moderate. Rain. Doomed.

Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Willenhall North.
Wind of change. Man the lifeboats. Chucking it down. Help.

Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Short Heath
Gale force 9. Tuition fees. Cats and dogs. Good.

Hebrides, Bailey, Bloxwich, Fair Isle
Flatulence. Calm. Drizzle. Poor.

Faeroes, Leamore, South east Iceland
Still. Apathetic, Mist. By election.

That was the shipping forecast, issued by the Plastic Hippo on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at 00-01 GMT, Sunday 20 November 2011.

Sailing by.

November 14, 2011

Savaged by a dead sheep

Filed under: History,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 12:27 pm


Geoffrey Howe, for all his mild-mannered failings, was a politician of honour, integrity and intellect. Now in happy retirement, he could still teach a thing or two to the current flock of ovine ruminants either clinging on to, or coveting power in Westminster or in the lovely borough of Walsall.

In June 1978, when in opposition, Sir Geoffrey dared to challenge the then Chancellor, the formidable Dennis Healey, over his budget proposals. With less than a year left for the Callaghan government, Chancellor Healey said this:
“The Right Honourable Gentleman finally came round, a trifle nervously I thought, after ploughing through that tedious and tendentious farrago of moth-eaten cuttings presented to him by the Conservative research department. I must say, that part of his speech was rather like being savaged by a dead sheep.”

This kind of political knock-a-bout has been going on in the house for centuries. Indeed, it has been suggested that Healey`s massive put down was a paraphrase of similar barbs issued by Churchill and Disraeli. Churchill described Clement Atlee as “a sheep in sheep’s clothing” and the Earl of Beaconsfield responded to criticism by comparing it to being “savaged by a pet lamb”. If only our local representatives in the big house on Lichfield Street were as erudite, knowledgeable and witty.

It is never easy to observe a species on the brink of extinction. One need only think of cute baby polar bears clinging to a receding ice floe, climate change sceptics claiming that fossil fuels are good for the planet, nurses, people with disabilities, the poor, the young, the old, reality TV contestants and, in direct contrast with the success of sheep, Liberal Democrat politicians.

The LibDems in Walsall are currently displaying some rather strange behaviour. It is a little like those apocryphal stories of domesticated farm animals going completely mad just before an earthquake or hurricane. It is impossible to explain this erratic activity, but the sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and cows clearly know that something is coming that the farmer is unaware of. With the chickens going berserk and the sheep head butting anything that moves, the LibDems in Walsall have suddenly mastered the Richter and Beaufort scales.

Recently, this humble blog reacted to a piece by Walsall LibDem leader Ian Shires and suggested that he and his party were happy to go along with the destruction of the NHS. He in turn, as is his right, offered a rather badly spelt rebuttal and claimed that the Labour group were disingenuous by forcing a debate at full council rather than at scrutiny committee. Perhaps we should clarify the scrutiny process in Walsall.

Up until May 2010, every scrutiny panel except one had a Conservative Chair and a Conservative majority. Anything brought before these panels would be voted down using to the Tory whip. Since May 2011, some committees are chaired by other parties, but there is little hope of any actual scrutiny when the Tory/LibDem axis still has the voting power. Councillor Shires is now the chair of the Regeneration scrutiny and performance panel and has attended every meeting according to the WMBC website. Good for him. We can only hope that under his watchful eye, supermarket led regeneration and mysterious arson attacks on listed buildings will cease. He also serves on the Community Service scrutiny and performance panel but sadly, again according to the WMBC website and so it must be true, has only been able to attend 50 per cent of the meetings.

The point is, LibDems have a seat on all scrutiny committees and have spectacularly failed to challenge the half-wits in control. To now harangue another opposition party for failing to question the idiocy of Mike Bird and his porcine friends at the scrutiny stage is worthy of a hen scratching the ground just before the earth opens up. With something as important as the NHS, to justify abandoning principle and policy under the smoke screen of council procedure is the last desperate throw of the dice for an endangered group that deserves extinction.

The LibDems both locally and nationally are doomed and the evidence for this comes from the increasingly deranged blog published by councillor Shires. Regular readers of this humble blog will know that your hapless author is no fan of the previous Labour government, Ed Miliband or of the Labour group in Walsall, but the constant invective aimed at the opposition on his blog indicates that Ian Shires is a desperate man clutching at straws as the hurricane descends. It is possible to feel some sympathy for local Liberal Democrats. Having seen their party sell out any credibility in exchange for a red ministerial dispatch box, they find themselves in a position that is untenable. Councillor Shires suggests that the LibDems are a controlling influence in this malicious Tory led coalition. He claims that “dogged resistance by Lib Dems in Government has stopped many of the excesses that the Tories would have got away with if we hadn’t have been their”. The logic of that argument, once deciphered, dictates that rather than simply kill the NHS, education, the economy, social care and just about everything else that does not involve greed, the LibDems want to torture those unfortunate beasts before the inevitability of the bolt gun to the back of head. The LibDems have now been reduced to animal welfare operatives in an abattoir.

A political party becomes morally bankrupt when it concentrates on rubbishing the opposition rather than setting out policies of its own and cutting and pasting nonsense about pubs, donations to the Cooperative Party, made up figures about child care and how Nick Clegg`s mum was in a concentration camp is hardly the stuff of political greatness. We should encourage Ian Shires to continue with his amusing, if slightly disturbing, blog as he is one of the few local politicos to engage with social media. However, as this humble blog knows only too well, it is a dangerous game to insult the intelligence of readers and accusing “well known multi millionaire Ed Milliband” of ripping up the Labour manifesto would be a suggestion worth contemplating had it not come from a Liberal Democrat. EMA? Tuition fees? Privatised hospitals? Get back up to the top pasture Ian, we need politicians of honour, integrity and intellect.

For all the badinage between Dennis Healey and Geoffrey Howe, it seems that they remain great friends in the upper house. These old war horses know how to separate the wheat from the chaff and the mutton from the lamb. On local election day next May, dead sheep curry is certain to be on the menu.

November 10, 2011

True colours

Filed under: History,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 11:05 am


In spite of being a rather unpleasant man, W S Gilbert was probably the finest satirical librettists this country has produced. If he were alive today, the comic opera he could have produced after the latest full meeting of Walsall Council would have been a masterpiece.

In amongst the usual stuff regarding potholes, recycled light bulbs, bus routes, footpaths, parking and the evasive drivel from cabinet members, there was an interesting Notice of Motion from the normally supine Labour group regarding reforms to the NHS. What the suddenly invigorated lefties wanted was for a majority of councillors to agree that the NHS bill currently going through the Lords is not in the best interests of patients and that the NHS should be protected and not undermined.

With the vast majority of doctors, nurses, health unions, patient groups and anyone else with an ounce of intelligence firmly opposed to Lansley`s privatisation of a service providing health care at the point of need, this does not seem to be a difficult decision for elected representatives to make. Of course, we must take out of the equation the doomed Tory group of councillors who will believe anything that Conservative (to rhyme with chive) Central Office tell them, parrot the diktat and vote as a flock against anything that remotely resembles common sense. But with the scores tied between left and right, it was down to the centre to call the tune and as the single independent councillor did not bother to turn up, that moment in the spotlight was reserved for the five Liberal Democrats. They decided to destroy the NHS.

Instead of slinking off to a dark, quiet place reserved for those that have abandoned principle, honour and promises, LibDem leader Ian Shires came out fighting. Imagine, if you will, the opening of the second act of Iolanthe by Gilbert and Sullivan. Private Willis of the Grenadier Guards is on sentry duty at the palace of Westminster. He sings:

“When all night long a chap remains
On sentry-go, to chase monotony
He exercises of his brains,
That is, assuming that he’s got any.
Though never nurtured in the lap
Of luxury, yet I admonish you,
I am a intellectual chap,
And think of things that would astonish you.”

Ian Shires has certainly astonished us with some of the things he thinks. Who would have thought, for example, that the Welfare State was created by David Lloyd George in 1909 and that the “great Liberal thinker and social reformer” William Beveridge invented the NHS even as bombs were falling on Pearl Harbour? It is worth pointing out, for the sake of accuracy, that “Beverage”, as councillor Shires describes him, was not everyone’s cup of tea. He was, in fact, an economist and civil servant greatly under the influence of the Fabian Society, you know, lefties, and formulated the idea of free heath care as early as 1911. Only after serving under Churchill during the war, he moved to the centre and joined the Liberals. He served briefly as a Liberal MP for Berwick upon Tweed and was elevated to Lords as a Liberal Peer.

It is interesting that this “great Liberal thinker and social reformer” had a life-long interest in eugenics and once proposed that the state should support people who could not work on the condition that there should be a “complete and permanent loss of all citizen rights – including not only the franchise but civil freedom and fatherhood.” Hmm…nice guy for a great Liberal thinker and social reformer. Perhaps the soon to be Mr Shires is still under the influence of “Beverage” rather than Beveridge.

It seems that our LibDem leader in Walsall told us that everything is fine and not content with mangling history in the council chamber, gave us the benefit of his “impassioned speach” on his rather bizarre blog. In it, he accused the Labour group of being cynical, opportunistic and praying on the weakest in society. Fortunately there are no mirrors in the council chamber. Walsall LibDems voted to destroy the NHS.

This hypocrisy and cynical opportunism of Shires and his four chums is reflected nationally in the upper and lower houses. Millionaire Clegg is happy to increase tuition fees and scrap EMA after stating the opposite. In so doing, he has thrown his policies out of window to support a Conservative (to rhyme with chive) government. Baroness Williams, once the LibDem pin-up in the Lords, speaks fine words in public about saving the NHS, but enters the government lobby when it’s time to vote. She is now among the dead and the dying Conservative (to rhyme with chive) back benches. With a very small number of LibDems propping up an attack on human rights in Walsall and Westminster, liberalism and democracy only exist in the title of this two-faced, deceitful apology for a political party. They really are away with the fairies.

As Private Willis in Iolanthe intones:

“I often think it’s comical
Fal lal la, fal lal la
That nature often does contrive
Fal lal la la
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative.
Fal la la, fal la la
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative.”

To rhyme with five.

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