The Plastic Hippo

February 28, 2013

Office of profit

Filed under: Law,Politics — theplastichippo @ 3:36 am
Image via eastleighnews.co.uk

Image via eastleighnews.co.uk

Technically, a Member of Parliament cannot simply resign from Parliament. Instead, they must apply without any sense of irony for an office of profit.

Chris Huhne, after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice, did not resign as an MP. Under arcane parliamentary law, it is actually illegal for a sitting MP to pack it in and find a proper job. Already in enough trouble with m`learned friends and awaiting sentencing, Huhne is required to seek the sinecure office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of Her Majesty`s Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham. Unlike the long gone law of coverture, this little legal loophole has not been repealed and so we are today treated to a parliamentary by election in the fair constituency of Eastleigh.

It seems entirely appropriate that one of Eastleigh`s most famous sons is, or rather was, Benny Hill as the by election campaign has had more to do with low comedy than high politics. The list of hopeful candidates reveals that democracy in the UK should never be taken seriously and is something that is open to ridicule. The usual crop of attention seeking personality disorders are on display begging for votes but this time they are joined by a cohort of loonies even more barking than the mainstream parties. Given a choice of 14 candidates, the good people of Eastleigh have a difficult decision to make based not on policy but on who is the least worse. If the voters have a dilemma, consider the anguish of a Monster Raving Wessex regionalist pet that is loved by Elvis and has a penchant for beer, baccy and crumpet. Now that, to use a phrase much favoured by coalition ministers as they stick the knife in, is a tough decision to make. (more…)

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February 25, 2013

Background noise

Filed under: Law,Politics,Society,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 4:04 pm
Would I lie to you?

Would I lie to you?

It requires an extraordinary amount of brass to construct the neck of a politician. Ironically, the weaker the intellect, the absence of spine and the more dubious the morality, the more brass is needed. Only the purest, most precious brass is reserved for the necks of creatures that call themselves Liberal Democrats.

It is a given that the Tory party is nasty and that the millionaire Conservative front bench are intent on returning to the dark ages of gentry and peasantry, master and servant. The Labour front bench, after 13 years of spin and glossy news management now seem too tired to put up a fight and cannot be bothered to question the outrageous statements peddled by the Tory propaganda machine. With the gullibility of Nick Clegg being exposed as the wheels come off this failing coalition, the only role left for Liberal Democrat ministers is to appear before the cameras to gloss over the latest disaster when their Tory masters are “indisposed”. So we have the unedifying spectacle of Vince Cable earning a crust defending Osborne as the Chancellor anticipates a Sunday lunch of roast swan lovingly prepared by family retainers and Danny Alexander gibbering in an idiocy contest.

Daft old Vince, of course, is quite right to describe credit rating agencies as nothing more than bogus “tipsters” who regularly get things wrong and provide only “background noise” in the serious business of global economics. Fiscal stability is better served by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility rather than vulgar traders who are happy to ruin a currency for personal gain. According to Vince, the downgrading of the triple A battery to Austerity Anonymous One is merely symbolic. It seems a shame then that the only semblance of economic policy imbedded in the coalition is Osborne`s benchmark of an AAA rating from credit rating agencies and the projected income for the sale of G4 provided by the OBR. The British economy is now dependent on a failed auction and the whims of sharp suited shysters who would sell their own mothers as a substitute for horse meat. But don`t worry, poor people will pay for the mess.

The coalition agreement was signed with the Liberal Democrats actually believing that they could be of some use in curbing Tory destruction of society; and, as a self-interested bonus, end a century of obscurity and irrelevance. Now facing destruction, liberal activists must nostalgically yearn for safe, local anonymity and must need therapy before and after knocking on the doors of voters. Here in the thriving, beautiful borough of Walsall, Liberal Democrats are also propping up an inept bunch of charlatans more interested in the contents of the trough than in public service. Sharing all the lack of principle with their national leadership, the locals still cling to the belief that they are in some way making a difference. Unfortunately, they are not. (more…)

February 21, 2013

May the farce be with you

Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:03 am
Jedi image via Lucasfilms

Jedi image via Lucasfilms

This evening (Thursday), the democratically elected representatives of the people of Walsall gather for a meeting of the full council. Our civic leaders will convene in solemn conference to decide the fate of the Empire. Sadly, the drones of Walsall are in no position to strike back.

In a packed agenda, questions will be asked about improvements to Ravens Court in Brownhills, the Walsall coroner service, the bedroom tax, covert selection of pupils in Academies, the Walsall North area profile and mortality rates at the Manor Hospital. Councillors will also enjoy a report on Treasury Management policy, will elect a new Deputy Mayor, hear about transition in public health and cringe as portfolio holder for Children`s Services, Councillor Rachel Andrew, proves that being completely incompetent is no barrier to a cabinet allowance. But the Death Star hovering over the High Jedi Council is item eight on the agenda; Corporate Budget Plan and Treasury Management and Investment Strategy 2013/14. It is likely that the budget will be approved faster than the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs. (more…)

February 19, 2013

Lashed to the mast

Filed under: Law,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:44 am

Image via techmash.co.uk

Image via techmash.co.uk


Odysseus was, when all is said and done, a bit of a show off. Stuffing the ears of the crew with wax and then having himself lashed to the mast to listen to the Siren`s song might seem a little OTT, but his showmanship is nothing compared to the survival instinct of Walsall cabinet.

Last July, a dirty great big 45 foot mobile phone mast suddenly sprouted in a nice, quiet, respectable residential road in Pheasey Park Farm, Walsall, England, UK, Europe, planet Earth. The sheer horror of this obscene monstrosity sent local residents rushing to their mobile phones to complain to the council but sadly there was no signal because the mast had yet to be activated. Undeterred, the good people retreated to their kitchens and with one ear glued to the microwave in anticipation of the readiness of a Findus Beef Lasagne, formulated a petition. Their local councillors were, of course, fully supportive of the possible dent in their majorities and immediately took decisive action to reverse the outrage. Mobile phone masts, like diabolical wind turbines have no place in the lovely borough of Walsall.

In a digital age, it is the God given right of every citizen to receive the latest goal alerts from Manchester United, to be able to download Adele`s latest release and to take photographs of passers by doing stupid things, car crashes, cardiac arrests and the ability to tell the world that they are enjoying a cup of coffee at Starbucks. This vital connectivity, however, comes with a price. The mobile phone companies are not charities and obviously have no interest in local or national democracy. If a company like Vodaphone can pressure a government to ignore an £8billion, yes billion, tax bill, Walsall council has about as much chance of tackling these corporate rogues as a Walsall resident has of tackling Walsall council. The fault, though, seems not to lie with the evil, multinational phone corporations, but with Walsall council itself. (more…)

February 17, 2013

Size matters

Filed under: Birmingham,Education,Health,Media,Politics,World — theplastichippo @ 1:00 am

Dr Who bus
One of the more amusing habits of news media when trying to explain things is its curious use of comparable measurement. Size, it seems, is really difficult to describe and so tired journalists have invented a universal scale of contextualised bigness based on the London bus.

With the assumption that the audience has the attention span and the cognitive ability of a three month old chimp, very small things are smaller than a grain of sand and very big things are measured in multiples of the area of Wales or sometimes Belgium. In between these extremes are standard units for everything else ranging from a golf ball, a grapefruit, a football, a sofa, a family car (small, average or large), a London bus, a football pitch, an aircraft carrier and the equivalent of a city the size of Birmingham. These descriptors can be multiplied but are not so effective when divided so other arbitrary factors need to be applied.

Thus, with the impending perigee of asteroid 2012DA14, the news media went a little bit potty and refused to believe scientists who had the proof that impact would not occur. On the BBC, one slightly hysterical hack asked a scientist how big the thing was. The astrophysicist estimated that it was probably about 150 metres across. The hack had done some homework and suggested that it was the size of an Olympic swimming pool. The boffin looked confused and reiterated that it was estimated at being about 150 metres across. In the week that dear old Reg Turnill died, BBC science reporting hit rock bottom when footage of the Russian event horizon meteor exploded all over the internet. “The sonic boom sounded like an explosion” bellowed one excited non-scientist who did not actually witness the event. “It looked like something from a disaster movie.” Mercifully, he did not revert to default media nomenclature by describing the object, estimated to be about 15 metres across, as being the size of a London bus or that its passage through the upper atmosphere had reduced it to the size of Eric Pickles nor that by the time it had impacted on a frozen lake in the Urals it was the size and shape of a baked potato. (more…)

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