The Plastic Hippo

April 6, 2010

The darling buds of May

Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 11:51 pm

May 6 is the anniversary of the sack of Rome, an event in 1527 that is forever associated with the final end of the renaissance. It is also the birthday of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, a person currently described as a “peace envoy”. Oh, and apparently some elections are going to take place on May 6.

The long awaited confirmation that the general election will coincide with the first local poll in two years will have the ruling Walsall Tory group hugging themselves with delight as the battle of the big beasts will certainly overshadow a few local difficulties. Mike Bird and his chums must think that Christmas and birthdays have come at once as all they need to do when asked a tricky question is bellow in the style of Father Jack:
“Iraq war…economy…Hoon…Hewitt…Byers”. The convenience of electoral purdah will also help smother some of the colossal embarrassments with a cloak of silence.

The catalogue of disaster that has befallen Walsall Tories over the past few years is monumental. Overspending £5million on a white elephant ring road might appear unfortunate and loosing £3million in EU funding could be considered as careless, but the good and the great in cabinet are happy to brush these gaffes aside as footnotes of history. Similarly inconsequential is the admission that the council cannot provide the services that it has a duty to supply. Education, social care and highways maintenance are in the hands of private companies who make substantial profits at the same time as providing sub-standard services. In spite of not being in control, a further £5million is cut from social services and our value-for-money education provider has overseen more schools going into special measures.

Now the council wants to throw in the towel at swimming pools and will continue to pay out millions in out of court wrongful dismissal cases where honest public servants have had the temerity to blow the whistle on wasted public funds and wrong-doing. Responsibility, it seems, does not extend to elected members. The calamitous state that the borough finds itself in is the result of an incompetent administration unable to carry out even the most basic of civic tasks whilst at the same time denying its own inadequacy.

Our elected representatives seem to have conveniently forgotten what their actual role is. They should be there to represent those without a voice, to champion the vulnerable and at least make some attempt to enrich the lives of the people who happen to inhabit this part of the planet. Instead we have a cohort of inept and rather pathetic failures who expend infinitely more time and effort on diverting responsibility for their own misdemeanours than actually working towards any meaningful corporate leadership.

April is usually considered to be the cruellest month as half-hearted daffodils and lilacs force their way to the surface giving us false hope that spring will be better than winter. If the events of March are anything to go by, April in the waste land that is Walsall is likely to be particularly grim with more and more cuts and an increasing denial of ineptitude masked by the main event of the appointment of a national administrative manager.

But, as that bloke who once to live in Strafford-upon-Avon said:
“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer`s lease hath all too short a date…”

The short election campaigns, both local and national, are certain to turn nasty and, it seems to have already begun. Voters in Walsall South received a leaflet over the weekend introducing them to their Conservative candidate, Richard Hunt. Mr Hunt clearly cares for the people of Walsall and the local Labour party as his leaflet claims that local people have been overlooked in the selection of the Labour candidate and quite rightly points out that Valerie Vaz has been parachuted in and that she is the sister of somebody. The rest of his leaflet, promoted by someone called Adrian Andrew, criticises the government but gives no policy statements.

Richard Hunt was born in Chesterfield and educated in Yorkshire. He stood unsuccessfully in Barrow and Furness for the Conservatives in the 1997 election and was a district councillor in Hart (Hampshire) between 2000 and 2006. He is certainly familiar with Walsall as he has used the M6 and is a supporter of Leeds United.

The danger is that the 20 council seats up for election in Walsall will be all but ignored as we watch the spectacle of skydivers trying to kick the air out of each others parachutes. This woefully inept, morally and financially bankrupt council will attempt to get off the hook by focussing on national issues and council opposition parties will miss the chance of holding them to account. As for those standing to be our next MP, slavishly following the national party line might not be such a good idea. With the reputation of Westminster at an all time low, there are votes to be had in a commitment to cleaning up both the Council House, and the Houses of Parliament.

The battle lines are drawn and this next election is likely to be the closest run for years. But it will not be won or lost on policy or vision. It will hinge on negativity, smears and invective. Great oratory is a thing of the past and the vote will be decided by which party makes the most gaffes. Whichever identical administrator stands on the steps of number 10 on the morning of May 7, having inherited a kingdom of debt and necessary cuts, he will see fear in a handful of dust.



  1. funny enough still to receive the tory leaflet but when they claim that Vaz is a parachute I think they could not be further wrong. Speaking to a few she was the surprise winner as it was expected that Sue Hayman was the parachute one as she then got the Halesowen PPC.

    oh well another tory lie

    BTW I wonder how many local people knew about richard hunt or (whisper this) the rumoured racism on why he got the vote over local Asian councilors ?

    Comment by ianrobo — April 7, 2010 @ 10:27 am | Reply

  2. This made me laugh out loud, and the ironic expression of contempt was far more effective than invective. Couldn’t have done better myself. I spent today in Palermo, a beautiful, shocking, chaotic, living sculpture which too has suffered at the hands of an unscrupulous, self -seeking organisation, which too diverted EU funds. But that organisation is illegal and nobody elected them . We the people of Walsall chose our leaders democratically and mandated them to spend our money wisely on our behalf.

    Comment by Carol Baker — April 7, 2010 @ 7:04 pm | Reply

  3. We need an elected mayor in this rotten borough, someone with a bit of vision and drive; someone with a simdgeon of moral fibre and a touch of altruism.
    Oh, and an IQ greater than their shoe size.
    Hippo for Mayor!

    Comment by martin — April 8, 2010 @ 10:00 am | Reply

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