The Plastic Hippo

May 1, 2011

Desperate housewives

Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 7:00 pm

One of the more pleasing by-products of the current plethora of Bank Holidays is the amount of discarded provender washed up onto the peaceful shores of Hatherton Lake. Any discerning hippo can feast upon unwanted chips, curry sauce and burgers and if one avoids the dog ends, vomit and depleted chewing gum, it’s summertime and the living is easy.

However, the downside of the downturn brings with it a superfluity of litter including, at this time of year, dumped election leaflets. Floating across the water from the direction of the death trap Arboretum junction came flotillas of blue and red flyers advertising the credentials of those wishing to represent the buzzing metropolis that is St Matthews. Already on the short list for the Orange Prize for Fiction and ignoring the noble tradition of political pamphleteers, these bits of paper have shown themselves to be remarkably absorbent . Nothing yet from UKIP or the understandably silent Libdems.

The blue confection bore the familiar name, McCracken and at first glance the photograph of the sitting councillor seemed to show her more hirsute than usual. But further reading confirmed that this was not the fragrant Barbara, but her consort Gerry. It seems the better half has nobly decided to let hubby face the voters that elected her and has eloped to a new address in Paddock ward where, she hopes, she can retain her position as chief judge in the WI cake-making contest. This, of course, is nothing to do with putting self-interest above representation, but is a magnanimous gesture to allow him indoors a chance at ruining things.

The latest Kracken to wake from the Stygian depths tells us of the achievements of Walsall’s Conservative council. Sandwell House in Caldmore is being refurbished to accommodate the homeless by evicting the current “anti-social” homeless back onto the street. Some unidentified garages are to be demolished. The rugby club is being moved on to make way for a new access road to the “university” campus. This is vitally important as the current traffic is disturbing Councillor Arif`s sleep during the afternoon. The leaflet celebrates the success of council tax money being spent to demolish the “eyesore” Mellish Road Church. The mysterious owners of this “blot on the landscape” must have friends in higher places than the planning committee. Gerry seems to think that paying Tarmac a million quid a month not to fix potholes, closing a play area a week after it opened and trying to take the credit when a bunch of NIMBYs secured a council climb down is “democracy in action”. Mr McCracken seems to be as deluded and devious as his lady wife.

Still nothing yet from UKIP or the understandably silent Libdems.

The Labour leaflet gave us a personal message from Ed Miliband and a later flyer focused on national issues. Even given a disastrous history when a Labour controlled council made Walsall a national laughing stock, the reluctance to engage in credible opposition is difficult to understand. Any political group in opposition anywhere in the country would consider the oafish, embarrassing public pronouncements by Mike Bird as a godsend and would pounce on this hoard of electoral gold. Tiny groups of Labour activists in the leafy home counties would sell their souls for a ruling Conservative cabinet as inept and mendacious as the current clots in the big house on Lichfield Street. Minuscule minority parties would stare open mouthed with incredulity at an opposition that did not savage an administration hell bent on cutting everything whilst simultaneously attempting to increase the allowances paid to cabinet members. If re-elected, that proposal along with library closures will be back on the agenda in Walsall.

Still nothing yet from UKIP or the understandably silent Libdems.

One other leaflet washed up near the hippo lair. An astonishing piece of piffle from the No to AV campaign contained such patronising and insulting nonsense that it made the McCracken rubbish almost credible. This humble blog has commented on AV before and will not go over old ground again. But such is the condition of the body politic today, that the decision on AV is not about electoral reform but is about picking the least worse option. A vote against AV is favoured by Cameron and the odious BNP and will, in effect, destroy the ham-fisted coalition and the political credibility of the odious Nick Clegg. A vote supporting AV will create a further watered down version of the current chaos we are enduring. That is the dilemma facing voters on Thursday. Get rid of Clegg by supporting Cameron or vote for a flawed system, introduced with indecent haste, that will devalue a vote.

Similarly, placing a cross against Labour in Walsall as a protest against a hopeless basket-case council seems like an imperative and rather more than a reasonable choice. However, even a party incapable of opposition should really be setting its sights higher than no overall control.

And no, still nothing yet from UKIP or the understandably silent Libdems. Desperate, innit?



  1. I love the way you write. Absolutely excellent, as usual.

    I’ve had the full plethora of leaflets in Aldridge apart from the Labour Party; which rather proves your point, although it’s a dead ward at the best of times for them at least the other parties do whimper at the gate.

    Comment by Linda — May 1, 2011 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

  2. why aren’t you standing?
    I’ll vote for you

    Comment by martin — May 3, 2011 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

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