The Plastic Hippo

March 22, 2013

57 shades of pink

Filed under: Birmingham,Law,Politics,Rights,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:01 am

Politics, like football, cricket, sexuality, taste in cuisine, religion and rock and roll are by their very nature partisan and tribal and the human condition requires barriers to be constructed where no barriers actually exist.

It is a sad but inevitable given that fans of Donny Osmond will despise fans of David Cassidy, Mods will hate Rockers, City will vilify United, Australian cricketers are the very definition of cheats, curry is better than pizza, Sandi Toksvig and Julian Cleary are in no way shape or form funny and members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints are a bit odd. There are an equal number of people who are more than keen to express a contrary view which only escalates the Neanderthal posturing of “boo-hurray” vacuous chanting. Politics, however, is undergoing a surprising modification.

This week, the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill has passed through the commons with the second and third readings within the same day and without the scrutiny of a committee stage. This bill seeks to redress the unfortunate and predictable circumstances that led to the less than innocent Department of Work and Pensions under the stewardship of Iain Duncan Smith to manage an enormous cock-up. The DWP were judged to have acted unlawfully by the Court of Appeal and were required to cough up £130million to compensate the poor souls condemned to work for free under the odious Workfare programme. Setting incompetence aside, Iain Duncan Smith, a serial failure at anything he has ever attempted, resorted to breakneck legislation to remedy the howling catastrophe he had created.

A sporting analogy is difficult to conjure but imagine a football team losing five nil at home with three minutes to go. This is a result that is likely to displease the football authorities so they quickly change the rules of the game to ensure the winning team are prohibited from scoring any more goals and deduct the goals already scored and retrospectively award them to the losing side. For good measure, they dismantle the goalposts and move them to another planet. Then, they dig up the pitch and use it as a detention camp to contain the visiting players. The home fans are delighted as winning, regardless of the ways and means employed, has to be the first priority. This, though, is a flawed analogy as it does not take into account the presence of a referee or the bellowing outrage of the away supporters. Sadly, during the passage of the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill, the referee was bound, gagged and tied to a chair in a locked basement and the away supporters shrugged their shoulders and walked away.

Support for football teams and belief in political principle are not what they once were. Blind loyalty regardless of poor performance has been replaced by scathing criticism if instant success is not achieved on the football field or, more importantly, on pay-per-view television. In parliament, the entrenched position of loudly disagreeing with anything the other side spouts based on the doctrine of “if they thought of it, it must be wrong” has undergone a subtle transformation to a position of “yeah, alright then, whatever”. The long overdue regulation of a feral press was kicked into the long grass by three men in a presumably smoke free room at two o`clock in the morning and confirmed that the Leveson Inquiry was a complete waste of time and money. Perhaps the miserable compromise could have been cobbled together earlier if retrospective legislation had allowed Nick Clegg to spark up a Silk Cut during negotiations. Fortunately, George Osborne was not involved and the laws on lines of white powder and “assertive” hookers remain robust and rigorous.

The majority of Labour MPs, under a party whip, abstained on the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill and therefore supported Iain Duncan Smith`s desire to remove human rights and rewrite the law to make his incompetence and unlawful spite disappear. Aided and abetted by the likes of Frank Field, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Liam Byrne said that the DWP were “guilty of incompetence on an industrial scale” and then promptly abstained. Seismometers in New Mexico, Kamchatka and Woomera recorded intense activity in the buried bones of Aneurin Bevan and Clement Attlee. In government, Byrne as departing Chief Secretary to the Treasury infamously left a note to incoming fraudster David Laws informing him that there was “no money left. Kind regards – and good luck! Liam.” Clearly a fan of amusing notes, Byrne sent an 11 page memo to his staff demanding a cappuccino upon his arrival at work, soup at 12-30 and an espresso at three. He went on to add that if some complex issue could not be explained within 60 seconds, he would blame his staff. In 2006, he gave stirring support to the Road Safety Act which increased fines for drivers using mobile phones. In 2007 he was fined £100 and copped three points for, yup, using a mobile when he was driving. I would like to suggest to Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, that he is in the wrong bloody party.

The next day, the opposition front bench armed themselves with photocopies of the Standard front page that contained the details of the Chancellor`s fourth hopeless budget. Waving this about and asking the Conservative front bench to put their hands up if they would benefit from the millionaire’s tax cut, the boy Miliband did not challenge the whopping lies coming out of Osborne`s gob or offer any alternative to the economic disaster currently being inflicted. Perhaps Miliband is taking policy hints from the Labour Group here in Walsall who abstained on increased Tory cabinet allowances and abstained on a disastrous council budget designed specifically to harm core Labour support. For a party that was founded on the principles of the dignity of labour, fairness, equality and basic human rights, abstention is betrayal and anyone who thinks that the notion of working without pay to increase employers` profits is a good idea, should consider leaving the Labour Party.

With Miliband, Byrne and others regurgitating the scrounger and shirker rhetoric in an attempt to win votes in the tiny floating voter gene pool, their core vote is draining down the plug hole. With political divisions blurring, politicians desperate to retain a seat on the gravy train have become indistinguishable. When the house divided into the lobbies, only 57 MPs voted against the proposal for a retrospective law to ignore human rights and fairness. The majority of the 57 were Labour MPs who remember why they joined the Labour Party and why the Labour Party was founded.

Those that voted against retained honour; those that abstained are disgraced.


  1. My old Professor of Political Philosophy always maintained that, in any given situation, there were only 3 reasons for an abstention – stupidity, fear and death. He then went on to explain that these were also the inevitable social and political outcomes of such an action when applied to the democratic process. The result would be chaos.

    All elected politicians have an absolute responsibility to act in the best interests of their electorate. That there are different views among them is to be expected and applauded. It is these differences and the responsibility to publically and freely debate them that separates democracy from other political systems.

    Voting allows us to see, understand and ultimately judge between those who purport to govern. Abstentions are nothing more than an abrogation of responsibilty and a public demonstration of vacuity.

    It is, of course, exactly the outcome anticipated and desired by the multi-national backed think tanks that now advise on all policy. Never mind Leveson, something needs to be done to curb the influence of these malign outfits on major political parties.

    The Realist

    Comment by The Realist — March 22, 2013 @ 11:03 am | Reply

  2. problem is these malign outfits fund the main parties,accountants,hedge funds,bankers,the list is endless,we are becoming very USA like in our politics ,controlled by big business and millionaires.
    But our electorate would never consider any other way of funding political parties.

    Comment by DJ — March 22, 2013 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  3. Anyone that has used or met with the DWP knows their use of dodgy tactics; half-truths.
    This legislation sends a clear message that it is official policy. The game-keeper is more viscious than the poacher and I don’t like that outcome. Smells like an eye for an eye to me.

    Comment by Trevor — March 22, 2013 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

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