The Plastic Hippo

August 29, 2010

Last of the summer whines

Filed under: Politics — theplastichippo @ 12:37 am

Cameron, Osborne and Clegg

As the long, hot summer of love dwindles into a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the last thing we need to be reminded of is the icy blasts of winter that approach. This humble blog promises to stop the monotonous anti-coalition government whining that it has been guilty of since the election in May. This whining is likely to be replaced, if our loveable and amusing heroes continue on their calamitous trajectory down a hillside in a bath on wheels, by autumnal rants and shrieking, red-faced, invective fuelled tirades by the time foliage and then snow begins to fall.

The dismantling of a carefully grown system to care for the weakest and disadvantaged in society is beyond belief and understanding. Times are, of course, hard and the deficit has to be tackled. But to maliciously punish those of us in need and simultaneously reward the already affluent who were responsible for the mess in the first place is a betrayal only the stereotypical products of wealth and privilege are capable of. This, along with the abandonment of previous principles and prior commitments, not to mention the now torn up election manifestos, must lead us to question what we actually voted for.

30 million of us voted in May, that’s 65 per cent of those on the electoral register including the dead, missing and fictitious so popular with the agents of some politicians. The Conservatives won 49 more seats than Labour with 2 million more votes and 36 per cent of the two-thirds that bothered to turn up. Fair result, first past the post and no need for a stewards inquiry. But this was not a working majority and so the horse-trading began. Posh lefty and Radio 4 panel show fixture, Jeremy Hardy, observed that during the interregnum, the Liberal Democrats had gone within days from being a blushing virgin to a street corner prostitute with her knickers around her ankles. Clegg decided that being Deputy Prime Minister was far more important than promises made to almost 7 million people who voted for his party and, in the name of expedience, binned the party manifesto and grabbed the keys to Dorneywood. Given the number of grass-roots Liberal Democrats leaving the party, no amount of AV, PR or picking sides for a Sunday morning kick about in the park is likely to save that public schoolboy from a sound thrashing next time. For the record, the qualification required to be DPM is 57 seats, 201 less than Labour.

The Tories too have selective manifesto memories. No increase in VAT, they bellowed. Cut the deficit not the NHS, they purred. Well, Health Secretary in this dogs dinner coalition, Andrew Lansley, well and truly let the cat out of the wheelie bin last week by announcing the scrapping of NHS Direct, yet another vital service needed by people who cannot afford BUPA. Committed to education, they pulled BSF and granted a nutters charter through Academy school status. Have you noticed that Michael Gove, along with his brain, is missing? Presumably he has been locked in a cupboard somewhere and is trying to get both feet out of his mouth.

The current leadership have a very tenuous mandate yet seem intent on a wrecking-ball approach to social services that, without being over dramatic, will threaten not just livelihoods, but actual lives. In the bleak mid-winter, when an 80-year-old has to provide an application form for winter fuel allowance signed by both her parents, the frosty wind will indeed make moan. A desperate mother with a sick child in the dead of night will listen patiently to an electronic rendition of Vivaldi as she waits to be connected to an outsourced call centre thousands of miles away. When the food riots break out, there will be no police officers to protect us and our armed forces will be deployed far away in pointless, illegal and unwinable oil wars.

The Labour Party has done little to challenge this parlous state of affairs. Needing four months to elect a new leader after grumpy Gordon took to the hills is an extravagance to say the least. Harriet may be a battle axe, but has not managed to chase Compo down the street in wrinkled stockings and headscarf brandishing a mop. Foggy Osborne, so called because he is thick and wet and needs to take his socks off in order to count above ten, walks all over Darling. Imagine walking into a bar in Sydney, Paris, Tokyo or Texas and being identified as British. “Your President is called what? Balls, Miliband, Clegg? Get outta here.”

So far, what has gone on is all just talk and the so called man and woman in the street has yet to suffer. But that will change as the slash and burn idiocy takes hold. When the Institute for Fiscal Studies described the first budget perpetrated by Foggy as “regressive”, Clegg said it was a selective report based only on numerical facts. What? When Compo and Clegg were in opposition, they regularly quoted the IFS selectively to have a pop at grumpy Gordon and Darling to prove that the poor were getting poorer and the rich richer. Double standards and double-speak.

This coalition, without a meaningful mandate is in the process of reversing the rights of every citizen other than those who have the good fortune to be well-off. But its leaders, like Blair and Brown and those that went before them, are comfortable in the knowledge that there is a clapped-out sitcom well passed its sell-by date where antiquated character actors can augment their pension plans. It is called the House of Lords.

Perhaps Holmfirth in Yorkshire needs a care centre.

Clegg, Foggy and Compo


August 27, 2010

Ground zero tolerance

Filed under: Rights,Walsall,World — theplastichippo @ 1:28 am

Lower Manhattan in New York City is a long way from Dudley and even further from Vicarage Place in Walsall, but these places are linked by the kind of human nature that none of us can be terribly proud of.

At first glance, the righteous outrage and indignation expressed by the citizens of New York at the proposal to build a mosque on the site of the former World Trade Centre is both predicable and understandable. Angry talk of a victory mosque and a stealth jihad reverberates along Lower Broadway and across Battery Park. According to a recent poll, 72 per cent of Americans are against the building of a mosque at ground zero and most rational people would agree that the idea is, at best, inappropriate. However, the Park51 Cordoba House project is not a mosque and is not sited at ground zero.

Park51 is intended to be a cultural and community centre to promote a wider understanding of Islam in that marvellous, diverse and welcoming city. The design happens to include a space for prayer which is not for the exclusive use of Muslim visitors. The building is two New York blocks north of where thousands died on that terrible day in 2001 and, if supporters of the project are to be believed, the location is significant as the centre wants to commemorate the victims of the outrage. Opponents see this as a deliberate provocation. In another recent poll, 25 per cent of Americans think that Barak Obama is a Muslim and that he talks too much about his “faith”.

Things took a darker turn during a demonstration against the project when a dark skinned man wearing a hat that looked “Arabic” wandered into the crowd who abused, insulted and threatened him. It turns out he is called Kenny and was not a Muslim at all. Worse still, a man just back from Afghanistan wished a taxi driver “As-salaam alaikum”, asked if he was having a good Ramadan and then tried to kill him by cutting his throat.

The issue has more to do with mid-term primaries than the first amendment of the American Constitution and the satirists pin-up, Sarah Palin, weighed in with a call for American Muslims to “refudiate” plans for a “ground zero mosque”. When it was pointed out that “refudiate” is not actually a word, the former beauty queen, rifle woman and Governor of Alaska compared herself to William Shakespeare because he kinda made up words too – like totally awesome.

Pamela Geller, another towering intellect, is the woman organising the “mega-mosque” protests and gets lots of air-time on Rupert Murdoch`s Fox News in the states. Her website has featured fake photographs of Barak Obama urinating on the stars and stripes, his mother naked and a Jewish Supreme Court Judge in a Nazi uniform. She has also claimed that the president had a relationship with a crack-whore and is the secret love-child of Malcolm X. She has strongly defended Slobodan Milosevic and, this is the Black Country bit, expressed support for the English Defence League.

The repellent and retarded EDL descended on Dudley some months back to protest at plans to open a mosque in that fair town. Only a massive police presence prevented major public disorder as the knuckle dragging bone-heads rampaged through the town looking for a fight even after planning permission for the place of worship had been rejected. Undeterred, the pond life turned their moronic gaze towards Walsall after hearing that a new mosque was proposed on Vicarage Place. They quickly abandoned plans for another punch-up when they learned that objectors to the mosque and the defenders of England in Walsall were actually Muslims.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association want a place to meet and pray but other mainstream Muslims consider them heretics and have forcefully objected to the proposal citing “traffic congestion” as the reason. This guy Abraham has an awful lot to answer for.

In a world where a Catholic priest turns out to be an IRA bomber, a crack-whore urinates on a war memorial, Israel gets away with murdering aid workers heading for Gaza and the French government expels Roma people and bans the Burkha, what ever happened to peace, love and understanding? It still exists, with British people in these hard times donating over £35million in aid to the Pakistan flood appeal and “shaming” global governments into action.

Statesman, journalist and former French Prime Minister George Clemenceau (1841 – 1929) did little to improve trans-atlantic entente cordiale when he said:
“America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.”

What on earth would he make of the situation today in New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, Dudley and Walsall?

August 24, 2010

Illegally blonde

Filed under: Education,Media,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 8:06 pm

If the press coverage of A level and GCSE results is to be believed, the only people capable of achieving A* are blonde, pretty and female. Some papers depicted the occasional dark complexion and even more rarely, a boy, but most hacks and picture editors simply cannot resist an image of clever popsies hugging each other, preferable showing a bit of leg and embonpoint. For those who did not make the grade or the finals of the beauty pageant, help is at hand from our own dear Walsall council.

It seems that our council regard anything less than a C as a qualification to embark on a life of crime as that is the only career opportunity open to the educationally challenged. Accordingly, 10 lucky artful dodgers are being given the chance to “taste” plumbing, building and plastering in an initiative to “keep them out of trouble”. So it’s the building site or prison for you my lad.

Like most councils, Walsall loves acronyms, so the YJS as part of the IYPSS will deliver CSCS status and hopefully C&G Level 1 to NEETs via IAG advisors embedded in the YJS funded by the IPESG. Have you got that, kids?

On paper, this seems to be an excellent idea as one thing Walsall is not short of is young people who have been failed by the education system and lack qualifications, a job and, more importantly, hope or ambition. If successful, the scheme could be expanded to include career opportunities as a librarian, care worker, swimming pool attendant, local government lower grade worker or parking enforcement officer. This would enable disadvantaged young people to compete with the record numbers of A* types in the scramble for non-existent jobs. Sadly, the young criminals who did not achieve anything above C will find the doors of universities firmly closed. But, so will many of the photogenic blonde beauties as there are not enough undergraduate places available. Banking, politics, girl bands and tax-evasion beckons.

No less a mighty intellect than council leader Mike Bird offered this insight into how his council regards young people who have been spared the rigours of academic challenge. He said:
“By showing young people there is a route to a brighter future through employment and further training it is hoped we can prevent them entering the criminal justice system.”
This breath-taking, patronising and totally incorrect assumption that a failure to reach an arbitrary and fallacious academic target results in criminality comes from a “leader” determined to cut jobs.

So, work means freedom, or “Arbeit macht frei” as stated about 70 years ago, but where are the jobs in these days of recruitment freezes, redundancy and the cancellation of building projects such as BSF? Perhaps in the YJS, IYPSS or IPESG.

There will be misguided and erroneous claims that the GCSE has been dumbed down to allow government off the hook for allowing education to stagnate and “prove” that standards are rising. Those claims are ridiculous and all credit and congratulations should be directed at the nearly 70% of young people, be they blonde, beautiful or not, who achieved A* to C and the 25% gaining A or A*. There will be those that will attempt to claim credit for this remarkable success, but the results were achieved in spite of and not due to government, councils and the likes of Serco. Imagine what young people could achieve without these obstacles.

Apart from the Birmingham Mail who ran the extraordinary story of four Asian students from Handsworth who gained 64 good GCSEs between them, the printed press have not performed well. Given the unhealthy and disturbing obsession with young girls displayed by certain newspaper editors, perhaps the hacks should return to their natural stereotyped habitat of the building site. There is a course available in Walsall.


For the dullards who have failed to keep up, here is a glossary:

YJS – Youth Justice Service
IYPSS – Integrated Young People’s Support Service
CSCS – Certified Strengths and Conditioning Specialist
C&G – City and Guilds
NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training
IAG – Information, Advice and Guidance
IPESG – Improving Participation and Engagement Steering Group
BSF – B*st*rds Stopped the Funding

August 22, 2010


Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 2:00 pm

According to Mike Bird, the alpha male in the cartload of councillors currently closing down Walsall, Willenhall Leisure Centre was an open sore haemorrhaging money and had to go. Now that he has finally got his way in depriving swimmers, keep fit enthusiasts and pensioners of a valued and needed community facility, the building has suddenly become a valuable “council asset”.

Mike wants to flog it off to the highest bidder and claims that a troop of enthusiastic developers are flocking to his door wishing to transform the place into a cinema, skating rink or concert hall. Trouble is, shrieks Mike, they will not offer any money for it. This can hardly come as a surprise to the primate of all Walsall given the track record of “regeneration” in the borough.

Walsall Housing Group boast of their prestigious new headquarters to be built on prime town centre land acquired from the council for the princely sum of 100 new pence and the cosy, if secretive, relationship between Tesco and the council ensures that the retailer can close markets and dictate transport policy. Fund a mentalist Robert Edmiston was given half of George Rose Park in Darlaston as a condition of the secret deal to allow him to peddle his nonsense and the murky land swap deal surrounding the Norfolk Place depot continues unfettered.

Word travels fast on the jungle telegraph and it is no wonder that the hyenas are circling the clearing looking for some easy meat. Perhaps the most lucrative future for Willenhall Leisure Centre would be to allow a local “businessman” to convert it into a huge cannabis factory. This seems to be the only “growth” evident in Walsall now that the silver backs in Westminster have shut the Walsall Regeneration Company.

But Mike is steadfast and vows that the building will not be sold for “peanuts” and may take up to two years to shift. This will allow plenty of time to arrange a “mysterious” fire which will solve the problem once and for all. A few weeks back, Mr Shifter claimed that he was worth twice his £28,000 allowance and suggested a more reasonable figure of £100,000 for the good works he does. No, £28K is enough. After all, if you pay peanuts, you get…

August 19, 2010

101 days that shook the world

Filed under: Politics — theplastichippo @ 12:31 am

Building Schools for the Future – gone.

Children Trust Fund – gone.

The Audit Commission – gone.

The Health Protection Agency – gone.

The Food Standards Agency – gone.

The UK Film Council – gone.

Regional Development Agencies – gone.

Future Jobs Fund – gone.

£1billion in funding to local authorities – gone.

Support for the Libdems – gone.

Housing benefit – going

Social care – going.

Free school meals – going.

Milk for under 5`s – going.

Surestart Maternity Grant – going.

Winter fuel allowance – going.

Disability living allowance – going.

The Liberal Democrats – going.

Trident – here to stay.

VAT at 20% – here to stay.

Tax breaks for banks and corporations – here to stay.

Bankers bonuses – here to stay.

PFI contracts to line the pockets of the already wealthy – here to stay.

Home repossessions – here to stay.

Higher unemployment – here to stay.

A rise in bankruptcy – here to stay.

Bounty hunters preying on the needy – here to stay.

And all this “reform” was achieved in just 101 days. The pain and suffering inflicted on the playing fields of Eton College and Westminster School were clearly character building for Messrs Cameron and Clegg.

Well done chaps – enjoy your holiday.

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