The Plastic Hippo

November 30, 2012


Filed under: Law,Media,Politics — theplastichippo @ 10:32 pm
Image via

Image via

With his long awaited report well and truly kicked into the long grass, Lord Justice Leveson returns to relative obscurity in the spirit of a free press by not taking questions, making any comment and not giving interviews. His inquiry, it seems, was a complete waste of time and money.

Responding to public outrage at the behaviour of certain elements within the British press, our unelected Prime Minister commissioned the noble Lord to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the self regulatory printed media. Edmund Burke, an example of classic liberalism and founder of modern conservatism, christened the hacks in the press gallery and, more importantly, wealthy newspaper proprietors as the fourth estate as long ago as 1787 when restrictions on reporting the goings on in parliament were lifted. Good old Edmund would have been aghast to hear just how low the fourth estate has sunk. But never mind, life goes on and there are newspapers to sell.

After considering the evidence, testimony under oath from the good and the great, celebrities, innocent victims and their families and testimony under oath from the bad, great and strangely forgetful, one might think that Leveson`s conclusions would be fairly obvious. However, there are dark and powerful forces in play and the noble Lord had to tread very carefully, not least due to the various ongoing criminal investigations into serious wrongdoing. As Leveson was delivering his recommendations, a short distance away Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were up in front of another bench facing charges of conspiring to pay public officials for information. They and three others were released on bail and ordered to appear before another judge next week. Lord Justice Leveson was probably too busy to notice and did not offer any comment regarding conflicting evidence and accounts that prove that some of the witnesses at his inquiry lied to him under oath.

This small inconvenience is part of a bigger picture that Leveson wished to paint to salvage something from the 12 month bun fight costing more than £5million namely, more robust self-regulation of the press enforced by statutory underpinning. The rather strange assertion that the Met is free from corruption and that Jeremy Hunt is as pure as the driven snow probably raised more laughs on the street of shame than the introduction of a custard pie to Rupert Murdoch`s wasp chewing face. Leveson needn`t have bothered with these compromises designed to ensure the success of his main proposal. David Cameron did not like what the inquiry he commissioned had concluded and so our unelected Prime Minister is going to kill it stone died.

An hour after Leveson stressed that his recommendation was definitely not government regulation of the press, Cameron was on his feet in the House claiming that the report would result in government regulation of the press and so the end of free speech. No, this is not what the report proposes. The Press Complaints Commission has been a complete failure because its members are serving newspaper editors and other vested interests and Leverson wishes to see it replaced by tougher self-regulation overseen by an independent body made up of members without pecuniary interests in the print industry and free from the influence of newspaper proprietors. This requires parliamentary legislation; a statute which Leverson insists should also include strict safeguards to ensure a free press beyond the influence of politicians. Imagine any other industry, the production of nuclear power for example, where operators are allowed to be unaccountable and unregulated by government and when things go wrong, are permitted to sit in judgement of themselves. Cameron, hours after dismissing the central premise of the Leveson report, tasked his spin doctors to draft a preliminary bill that will be so complex and unworkable that it will fail before the apparatchiks run spell check over the wretched thing.

It might be worth considering the nature and worth of the free press in Britain. There is in this country, a long and honourable tradition of investigative journalism exposing all manner of nasty stuff. Devoting a front page splash to the discovery that a minor celebrity is drunk and has exposed her under garments climbing out of a Maserati is not part of that tradition. Professional footballers playing away from home is hardly something new and giving away the plot of some dreadful soap opera might constitute public interest but it is something very different from news. Self-regulation is being overtaken by action under both civil and criminal law. Predictably, almost all national newspapers have come firmly out against Leverson and in defending Cameron`s defence of free speech will unleash another torrent of abuse against anyone who dares question their independence, impartiality, accuracy or their right to rubbish individuals who their proprietor disagrees with. Proprietors are, after all, a shrinking breed. There are so few of them and with mass circulations falling, we should support champions of free speech such as Murdoch, Richard Desmond, Conrad Black and the Berkeley brothers before they shuffle off this mortal coil.

It`s been a good week for metaphor. Leveson talked of guarding the guardians and Cameron gave us crossing the Rubicon. Others offered drinking in the last chance saloon, editors marking their own homework and government throwing down the gauntlet to the press. The press have reacted by arranging a meeting to be headed by a certain Paul Dacre which tells you all you need to know about press self-regulation. Perhaps the best use of language was displayed by Cameron himself when he promised a family member of a victim of phone hacking that he would support the findings of Leverson unless it was “bonkers”. The backlash against the unelected Prime Minister has begun. If his Euro sceptics don`t finish him, Leverson will.

As Julius Caesar said as his crossing of the Rubicon started an insurrection: “alea iacta est” – the die is cast.


November 26, 2012


Filed under: History,Media,Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 5:22 pm

Image via
Image via

Secretary of State for Privatisation Michael Gove is entirely correct in condemning Rotherham Council for removing three Eastern European children from the care of UKIP members. This humble blog agrees that the decision is “indefensible”. The children should be returned to the foster carers immediately.

The children should be returned to the foster carers immediately in order for the tiny waifs to prove to the esteemed and wonderful volunteer fosterers that people from beyond our national borders are not all mad-eyed scroungers who rustle the Queen`s swans for barbeques and are not intent on slitting our throats in the night before making off with our DVD box sets of Downton Abbey. These little examples of humanity might just convince closed minds that the influence of Vikings, Romans and Normans might not have been such a bad thing after all. It might be in the best interests of UKIP to ignore the fact that one of the most successful fighter pilot squadrons during the Battle of Britain was manned by airmen who came from Poland and forget that 303 squadron was betrayed by Churchill and the heroes left stateless after defending us from fascism. (more…)

November 23, 2012

Jobs for the boys

Filed under: History,Society — theplastichippo @ 2:37 pm

Dibley image via BBC
Dibley image via BBC

If the appointment of an Eton educated former oil company executive as Archbishop of Canterbury raised a few eyebrows, imagine the kerfuffle in vestries across England as vicars have to explain to their dwindling flocks that women are spiritually inferior to men. As young people are apt to say: “OMG”.

To give him his full title, The Most Reverend Father in God, Justin Welby, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan must be wondering what God is telling him after walking into a calamity worthy of a new BBC Director General. The plagues of invective, outrage, disbelief and ridicule are nothing compared to the galloping of The Four Horsemen of the Internet approaching the Anglican Communion. However, those casting stones of invective and sarcastic derision at bishops and clergy, including this humble correspondent, are exorcising the demons out of innocents wrongly accused of illiberal blasphemy. The rather good bishop bashing jokes regarding primates, bishoprics and only being able to move diagonally might be as tempting as an apple offered by a serpent but the wrong heretics are being crucified. In the hope of forgiveness and absolution, this humble blog is grateful to the BBC for publishing the results of the General Synod`s vote on the ordination of women bishops: (more…)

November 21, 2012

The Lone Ranger

Filed under: History,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 5:04 pm

Ranger image via Movie-Moron
There was a time when class distinction and the social order was a much simpler affair. Correctly indentifying the “March of the Swiss Soldiers” from Rossini`s William Tell Overture made you middle class and correctly indentifying the theme tune to The Lone Ranger made you working class.

In those far-off heady days before the word “mayonnaise” entered the popular lexicon, a bottle of salad cream on the table was evidence of uncultured peasantry; posh people had dinner at tea-time and the lower orders had dinner at lunch time. Offspring of the gentry went to Eton and were groomed for a life of privilege and power in banking or politics. Thank goodness the era of influence by old school tie and the great unwashed knowing their place has gone and the memory of only two black and white television channels and no internet thingy is as distant and ghostly as Gilbert Harding and Lady Isobel Barnet deducing jobs performed by amusing artisans on What`s My Line. Okay, the bit about posh sprogs being groomed at Eton might still actually be true but even crusty old Harold Macmillan might be rotating in his plot at what Dave and his mates are up too.

Supermac espoused the Keynesian notion of encouraging growth, employment and prosperity by using public investment to create a mixed economy thereby harmonising supply and demand in the manufacturing and retail and service sectors. Achieving a very healthy balance of payments and an increase in living standards across British society, this posh old Etonian established social reforms, not least the 1957 Housing Act, the 1961 Factories Act and a graduated pension scheme currently being trashed by the Cameron regime. Who was that masked man? Sadly for Macmillan, he never quite shrugged of his disastrous involvement in the Suez Crisis and hawk monetarists in allegiance with the free market greedy brigade on his own back benches seized their “et tu, brute” moment over the Profumo Scandal. How delicious that a salacious indiscretion exposed by the News of the World should grow into a scandal that brought down a government. Mr Cameron might wish to reflect that history has a habit of repeating itself and that deception and cover-up might not be the best strategy particularly when involved with the News of the World or with powerful men who display a basic and rather vile weakness. (more…)

November 18, 2012

Crime of the century

Filed under: Law,Politics,Walsall,Wolverhampton — theplastichippo @ 12:27 am

Okay, we are only 12 years in and the accusation of the crime of the century might be a little premature given another 88 years of time and a further 30 months of this wretched, corrupt, inept and criminal government. As George Dixon might have said: “Mind how you go”.

The preposterous idea of elected Police and Crime Commissioners and the farcical results that ensued does not imbue confidence in a government that continues to operate without a legitimate mandate. A nation that allows suspected terrorists to walk free yet imprisons young people for liberating a bottle of water during civil unrest must, at some point, surely attract the attention of the European Court of Human Rights and Amnesty International. Fear not, the ECHR and Amnesty International are illegitimate according to our unelected government and should not just be ignored, but should be abolished. We are entering an era that needs a redefinition of what exactly defines the accusation of “rogue state” especially when people with disabilities and the terminally ill are defined as scroungers and layabouts even as very wealthy other people avoid taxation and abuse children. Thank goodness we have a moral crusader like David Cameron to champion our nation. Selling jet fighters to despots is easier than selling crackpot ideas to an increasingly sceptical public. Here is what happened at a polling station near you.

With a national turnout of less than 15 per cent, the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners have about as much legitimacy as a corrupt coalition government that did not win a general election. The conservative (with a small “c” and no pun intended) cost of this pantomime is £75million, enough money to retain 3,000 front line police officers. Cameron still talks of value for money. There are 16 Conservative PCC`s, 13 Labour and 12 Independents tasked with holding the constabulary to account. There is one Liberal Democrat Police and Crime Commissioner, a certain Winston Roddick, who managed to get himself elected in North Wales by pretending to be Independent and only revealing his true colours after his victory was assured with a turnout of 14.83 per cent. It seems appropriate that the Liberal Democrat colour is yellow given their propensity for telling lies and other sundry deceptions.

Here in the idyllic paradise that is the West Midlands, we have Labour man and Wolverhampton councillor Bob Jones as our champion. In his election statement he boasted of never living a mile away from the place of his birth apart from a few years spent at university. One might ask if he has ever visited Walsall or Solihull or Handsworth or Brownhills or Coventry. With a West Midlands turnout of 12 per cent, his mandate is as tenuous as that of David Cameron and no amount of vague posturing will divert attention away from the fact that the police service, along with the health service, education, social welfare, the BBC and just about everything else is being destroyed by a corrupt and unelected government. In this scenario, Bob Jones is entirely irrelevant.

In other news, in parliamentary by elections, Labour held Manchester Central, Cardiff South and Penarth and took Corby from the ridiculous Louise Daphne Mensch nee Bagshawe who decided that LA was a better place to be than Northamptonshire. This is very much in keeping with Tory women who would rather eat testicles in a jungle than represent the voters of Mid Bedfordshire. The blessed Theresa May will undoubtedly appear on the Weakest Link or possibly the Jeremy Kyle Show and confirm just how stupid Tory women are. They are as crooked and duplicitous as their male peers but lacking the essential requirement of gonads, they are as irrelevant as Police and Crime Commissioners. Did you see what I did there? Go Nads. Geddit?

There are some people who will rejoice in the fact that the Oxford English Dictionary has included the word “omnishambles” into the lexicon as a definition of a useless, inept and failing government.

Give it six months and we will be looking at “megashambles”. Evening all.

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