The Plastic Hippo

April 30, 2013

Last words

Filed under: Environment,History,Media,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 12:41 am
Image via anorak.co.uk

Image via anorak.co.uk

The poignant and rather touching tribute to the late Baroness Thatcher in this week`s Walsall Advertiser from, of all people, Councillor Pete Smith reminds me of my own encounter with the former Prime Minister.

The circumstances that led to me driving towards St James`s Park (the one in London, not the one on Tyneside) at six thirty on a spring morning in 1988 are too complex to describe in detail. Suffice to say that it involved a friend who worked for a television news company, a Ford Fiesta that refused to start, my reliable if battered Mini and a government photo opportunity. I pulled over at the end of The Mall near Admiralty Arch to let her out and find her camera crew then went on to find somewhere to park. By the time I joined her at the Horse Guards end of the park, a host of photographers and camera crews stood around looking bored and opening flasks of coffee. That was about to change.

From the direction of Whitehall, a group of six or seven young men in expensive suits approached and they seemed pleased at the number of cameras that had turned up so early in the morning. Presently, however, these “special advisors” detected a problem. Looking at a clipboard and the Rolex, one chinless wonder turned to another and said:
“Where`s the rubbish? Where`s the bloody rubbish? It was booked for seven. Find it Nigel, find it now.”
Nigel started looking in the bushes much to the amusement of the waiting photographers. Then, striding across the grass came the colossal figure of Nicholas Ridley, the then Secretary of State for the Environment. It could be that he was suffering from some illness or that he might not be a morning person, but given the ungodly hour, the minister appeared to be drunk. Surveying the scene, he lit a cigarette and turned the air blue with some very unparliamentary language. Spad panic ensued and two ran off in the direction of Great George Street and the others started screwing up papers from their clipboards and throwing them on the ground. The press, now openly guffawing, joined in by screwing up their briefing notes and throwing them at the Spads. Ridley contributed by flicking his cigarette end at the laughing snappers and sparking up another fag. (more…)

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April 26, 2013

White van man

Filed under: Birmingham,Law,Rights,Society,Walsall,Wolverhampton — theplastichippo @ 3:23 am

Crime, according to official figures, is decreasing in this sceptred isle thanks to the diligence of our hard working constabularies and the ingenuity of some very clever statisticians. We can, at long last, emerge from the dark ages of criminality and sleep soundly in our beds.

That font of all knowledge the Office for National Statistics has decreed that this England, this other Eden, demi-paradise is a more peaceful and safer place than in days of yore. Given the impeccable track record of the ONS proving that employment is rising, benefit claims are down, the deficit is being reduced, government borrowing is at an all time low, the root vegetable crop is the best ever and there are two suns in the sky providing eternal daylight, it seems churlish to question the data. In this precious stone set in the silver sea that is the West Midlands, our local Old Bill are the joint top performing metropolitan force for cutting crime. Offences, it seems, are down by a massive 13 per cent which, in the weird world of statistics equates to an extra 26,437 people able to describe themselves` as being not victims of crime. Obviously extrapolating this calculation suggests that every single crime committed has an impact on more than 2,000 people.

West Midlands Police, in an illuminating press release,
http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/np/walsall/news/newsitem.asp?id=12931
suggest that robbery is down by 30 per cent which is double the national average. Unfortunately the data has not factored in the goings on at Walsall Council House where cabinet members have awarded themselves an increase in allowances as a reward for incompetence and maladministration. A 30 per cent reduction in robberies equates, according to the figures, to a grateful 2,389 people not being robbed. That`s 800 victims per single robbery. Burglary is down by 13 per cent which means that 2,195 will not now need to call their insurance companies or emergency glaziers and the 180 people living in each burgled household will not need stress counselling. Injuries due to violent crime is down by 15 per cent with the happy result that 2,389 victims will not end up spending the night at A and E. That`s a 160 fit and healthy people allowed to live their lives without injury because of a single incidence of violent crime.

The above interpretation of the scant detail is, of course, utterly preposterous but is just as ridiculous as the blue sky thinking of the press consultants employed by the boys in blue. Even the only black cloud has a silver lining. An increase in sexual offences is explained away by a campaign to encourage victims to report such vile crimes. The stats have been spoilt by the victims and not by the perpetrators. There is no data relating to unreported domestic violence, child abuse, racist and homophobic abuse, disability hate crime, casual street violence and white collar fraud. Atos and the DWP, are after all, getting away with murder.

By now, anyone within sniffing distance of a computer will have seen the disturbing footage of a violent and unprovoked physical attack on a cyclist in Moseley. There is little more to say other than that there is clear evidence that a series of crimes were committed. We can argue a defence against dangerous driving; threatening behaviour, common assault, criminal damage, perjury and a variety of public order offences but that would be a futile argument. Because the perpetrator said “sorry”, had no previous convictions and was prepared to cough up some dosh, white van man upset at being slightly delayed by another human being on a bike faces no charges. It is a complete coincidence that recorded crime is decreasing.

When challenged, the plod took to social media to talk of hypothetical “red mist” and Home Office guidelines. One wonders if white van man would have been dealt with so leniently if he decided to attack a copper or, given Home Office guidelines, a constable had witnessed the unprovoked violence and made an arrest. Knock a copper off a bike and you get Tazered. Knock a not a copper off a bike and you will be told not to be a naughty boy. Does anyone remember Andrew Mitchell?

In the face of massive cutbacks, if the police service has to retain any credibility with the public, it should resist Home Office guidelines and prosecute the likes of white van man and protect the vast majority of sensible road users from the idiot who thinks he has a right to the highway regardless of whatever is in his way. The precedent that has been set is rather alarming. I can, if I wish, endanger the life of a cycling police officer when driving my vehicle, stop in the middle of the road to confront him or her, pursue them and punch them to the ground. I can now threaten them with further violence and not suffer the wasteful irrelevance of being charged. As I have no previous convictions and am affluent enough to pay compensation, I will not have my reputation damaged.

It`s not hard to understand why crime is decreasing.

April 24, 2013

As sure as eggs is eggs

Filed under: Society — theplastichippo @ 2:09 am
Image via Ronans Blog

Image via Ronans Blog

As sure as eggs is eggs, the telephone will ring the instant that Eddie Mair asks a crooked politician on the radio a killer question or at the crucial moment when a cheese sauce is about to turn from ready to ruined.

The logic of cold calling a landline between five pm and seven pm in order to illicit money is perfectly understandable given that there is a good chance that the intended victim will actually be available and ready to be defrauded. However, the tactic of trying to ensnare a captive audience is guaranteed to fail when the target is more interested in stirring the Mornay, dolloping up the Jersey Royals, serving the cauliflower and avoiding incinerating the gammon. It is difficult to know precisely which part of “f**k off” these cold callers fail to understand.

Both the private and third sectors now seem to know an awful lot about our business and, more importantly, our telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. With the economy smelling like a kipper left on a radiator for a couple of weeks, it is no surprise that shysters desperate to turn a dishonest buck in a something-for-nothing society should redouble their efforts to separate the gullible from their money. So, five or six times a day the telephone will ring asking if I am aware of government grants to insulate the loft or offering huge discounts on double glazing simply because the firm happens to be in the area. Tenacious to the end, it is difficult to know precisely which part of “the loft is insulated and the house is double glazed” these cold callers fail to understand. If we are to believe the current crop of pig rectums in Westminster with the unusual ability of being able to have both ends of their bodies simultaneously in the trough, this entrepreneurship is to be applauded as it will create economic growth. Sadly, this kind of growth is normally associated with cancer and testicles and the need for loft insulation and double glazing will be minimal once everyone but the very wealthy is homeless. (more…)

April 22, 2013

Miranda

Filed under: Law,Rights,Society,World — theplastichippo @ 3:09 am

Citizens of the United States of America enjoy the right to bear arms as enshrined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution and ratified by the Bill of Rights. With just a week having passed since the start of the terrible events in Boston, Massachusetts as a marathon ended, a city in fear can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

With one of the brothers suspected of barbarous atrocity at the finish line dead and the other wounded, in custody and probably close to death, the great city of Boston is again safe. It is difficult to imagine the anxiety and fear generated by two heavily armed, dangerous individuals threatening random and indiscriminate deadly violence. That the affluent suburb of Watertown should endure 24 hours of abject terror and Boston, the cradle of the American Revolution, suffering nearly a week of lock-down is almost beyond comprehension. The deaths, the maiming and the trauma of survivors can never be forgiven and the relief of cheering crowds at the end of the nightmare is perfectly understandable. As they mourn their dead and care for those that were so horribly injured, the rest of humanity stands with them at their time of loss. However, the good people of Boston might wish to consider exactly what else has been lost as a result of this dreadful tragedy. (more…)

April 17, 2013

Elephant

Filed under: History,Politics,Society,World — theplastichippo @ 3:00 am
Image via number10.gov.uk

Image via number10.gov.uk

”Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith and where there is despair, may we bring hope.”

Any attempt at ignoring the funeral taking place today at St Paul`s goes beyond turning a blind eye to the pachyderm in the parlour and will probably have the same effect as a whole herd of spooked elephants rampaging through the downstairs loo. Respect, it seems, is mandatory. The interment will be wall-to-wall; the cremation will not be televised.

Any death, regardless of the quality, controversies, successes or failures of the life, is a pertinent reminder of mortality, ambition and the weakness of the human condition. Once, only two things were certain; death and taxes. Now, we can bet our bottom dollar that re-written history will be the inevitable third penny placed on our cold lips to compliment the pennies on our unseeing eyes. The passing of a frail, bewildered 87 year old woman can never be a cause for celebration and those that rejoice at her death are guilty of the same hatred that they assign to her. However, those that adored her are now celebrating her demise with a cynical and disturbingly political feeding frenzy on the still warm corpse. This atavistic tendency has resulted in the current government denouncing any criticism of her life as disrespectful, in extremely bad taste and even mindlessly bigoted. Instead, the blessed Margaret is to be canonised with a state funeral in all but name and her name will be revered as the greatest ever Englishwoman who served her nation without the need of the unnecessary appendages of Winston Churchill.

There can be no doubt that Margaret Hilda Thatcher, nee Roberts, was a formidable political force of nature and was certainly a catalyst for societal change in the United Kingdom, Europe and the rest of the world. If that change was for the better, it remains, to say the least, contentious given the wounds that her death has reopened. Her eulogists state that she allowed the less well off to own their own homes and standing alone defeated communism in Eastern Europe. She trounced the bullying trade unions and was (more…)

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