The Plastic Hippo

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.

The exotic world of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies was a million miles away from the Lone Ranger and the cheerful compliant provinces beyond what would one day become the M25. Back then, “sex” was what posh people kept their coal in and a “crèche” was either a road traffic accident in Surrey or something that happened to other economies. Portly municipal aldermen dispensed their wisdom to grateful plebs and predicted the end of civilization brought about by a mop topped northern beat combo rather than nuclear proliferation and government scandals. Thank goodness we now have a new breed of local politicians prepared to take a stand against the inept inbred idiots in Downing Street who have managed to seize power without an actual mandate. Across the nation, councils face annihilation and the end of local government as a result of incompetent central government. Most authorities have seen through the shame of corrupt rhetoric blaming “lazy benefit scroungers” and loan arranger Gordon Brown; the current bunch of outlaws are borrowing more than Brown ever did and some of the most vulnerable of our friends, families and neighbours are now actually dying of state sponsored neglect.

All local authorities are experiencing difficulties in setting a balanced budget for the next financial year but with the laughable Eric Pickles peddling hints, rumours, nods and winks and with the level of capital funding left deliberately unclear, some authorities are more equally all in it together than others. Council services in large metropolitan boroughs are likely to take the brunt of the latest onslaught to keep the undeserving poor in their place. The people of Tyneside, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, the Leeds/Bradford conurbation, Inner London, Humberside and the West Midlands face reductions as punishment for not voting Conservative. The sensible and better off people of the Home Counties will be rewarded for not voting Labour. What an amazing coincidence.

Here in Walsall, currently enjoying the tantrums of a hung council, the budget setting process is, once again, a tale of smoke and mirrors and this humble blog intends to comment on the fiasco at a later date as there is much to say. There is, though, one particularly bonkers proposal that deserves immediate attention. In its bizarre and rather vague “consultation document”, Walsall MBC lists potential “savings” and “efficiencies”. It states:
Grounds maintenance and green spaces – We`d prune less, we`d convert shrub beds to grass areas, we`d stop weekend patrols, we`d reduce our presence on sites and we`d use fewer agency staff to cut the grass in summer and we`d review our tree operations. We`d also look to delete six posts via vacancies or redundancies. Saving £400,000
You can enjoy being “consulted” on the council`s woefully impenetrable website.

It did not take long to understand the consequences of this preposterous proposal and voices of objection were soon raised, not least by the quickly formed social media network Save Walsall`s Green Spaces and Countryside Services. The issues are comprehensively explained at this important website. There is also an e-petition on the council`s woefully impenetrable website where those that live, work and study in Walsall can remind councillors and municipal bean counters that parks, green spaces and nature reserves belong to the common wealth of the community and are not a gambling chip to pay for political incompetence.

Back in the days when The Lone Ranger was hunting down desperados in the Wild West, the best a provincial alderman could hope was to have a statue dedicated to his public service or perhaps have a plaque attached to a public urinal. Sadly public urinals are going as well and if those behind this idiotic proposal prevail, then they may find themselves cornered in Dead Man`s Gulch facing The Lone Countryside Ranger and, in the form of local social media, his faithful sidekick Tonto.

Hi-yo Silver. Away.


  1. Hi,

    Nice post, it brought back a few memories. I love the Mandy Rice-Davies quote that surfaces sometimes, “He would say that? Wouldn’t he?” That can apply to just about every politician. I remember Tonto and the Lone ranger, but I don’t get confused about Rossini’s William Tell Overture, I have a version of it on my hard drive from the soundtrack to Clockwork Orange!

    I would love to know how much Walsall council has paid Stave-con for the work they have done over the years. They really give me the hump!

    Comment by Mike10613 — November 21, 2012 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  2. Reblogged this on Getting There.

    Comment by aideym — November 21, 2012 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

  3. Close, but not quite a coconut!

    Although Supermac did indeed embrace a sort of Keynsian economic philosphy, the nations wealth was generated mostly through a ruthless financial exploitation of what remained of the Empire, combined with another dash for weapons during the Cold War. The folly of this approach has been felt ever since.

    He did indeed stop short of tampering too much with local government, preferring in his patrician manner, that plebs got on with making their own decisions on matters such as education, health, waste disposal, environment, transport, planning and amenities.

    However, the wily old fox tacitly recognised that the old rating system would simply not generate enough cash to fund sufficient improvements to local services and conditions, particularly in urban areas. In which case, the natives might just get restless. This was simply not allowable, as it might disturb the balance between need and greed that Labour had worked so hard to establish in the post war period

    In response, he proceeded to introduce more and more central funding and legislative control of local government, under the banner of investment. This laid the ground for successive Governments to cecede more power to the centre, culminating in the hideous Poll Tax (and its bastard offsprings the Community Charge and Local Council Tax) and the removal from local control and accountibility of almost every meaningful service responsibility.

    Since 1963, not one national administration has sought to reverse this trend. Indeed, under Blair, the process of centralisation was accelerated to warp speed. Little wonder then that electorates everywhere are so disengaged from and disinterested in local politics and civic affairs.

    Also, although it does against the grain, spare a thought for local politicians. Regardless of their political allegiance, all of them have now been placed in a hopeless position. Even the shameless Bird and the despicable Shires have resorted to public criticism of the Coalitions benefits policies.

    On second thoughts, bugger them. They, to a person, should have stood up far earlier against 60 years of the studied and deliberate emasculation of local democracy.

    So should the electorate. I have long maintained that the first political party to propose a genuine restoration of power to local communities will win a landslide victory. The problem is that the Lone Ranger always has to be in charge, so Tonto will again be reduced to a bit part.

    When Councils have to resort to deciding whether to properly plant and maintain our public spaces or grass them over and then not cut them in order to ‘save’ a few quid, it is surely time to get out and smell the roses.

    The Realist

    Comment by The Realist — November 22, 2012 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

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