The Plastic Hippo

September 6, 2013

Taxi

Filed under: Education,Law,Politics,Transport,World — theplastichippo @ 1:45 am
Not going south of the river

Not going south of the river

Rather than order a taxi for Mr Duncan Smith and order another taxi for Mr Grayling, that nice Mr Cameron could ask the two gentlemen to share a cab in order for the government to save money and so further reduce the dreadful deficit. However, the days of cabinet ministers resigning or being sacked for being inept, stupid, corrupt or all three are in the filing cabinet drawer marked nostalgia, responsibility and honour.

As a Justice Secretary without any legal qualification, Chris Grayling decided that legal aid for poor people was a luxury that the nation could not afford. Judges told him he was wrong, QC`s told him he was wrong, Barristers told him he was wrong and a London taxi driver who once had that Clive Anderson in the back of the cab told him he was wrong. Assuming that poor people are obviously guilty, Chris pressed on regardless. Now a laughing stock within the justice system, he has been forced into a humiliating climb down. Taxi for Mr Grayling? No, he is still allowed to be inept. (more…)

September 4, 2013

Shine a light

Filed under: Environment,Health,History,Law,Politics,Rights,Society,Transport — theplastichippo @ 9:27 pm
I`m looking for the NHS

I`m looking for the NHS

Those with an attention span longer than an average Twitter trend may recall the far off days before David Cameron was not actually elected as Prime Minister when he said that he would shine “a light of transparency” into the dark world of political lobbying.

Opposing a jaded Brown government beset with corruption scandals coupled with obsessive paranoia, Cameron`s advisors spotted a vote winner and offered salvation from self-serving fat cats on the gravy train. With greedy Labour peers being suspended from the Lords, Stephen Byers` describing himself as “a cab for hire” and government policy on tobacco advertising being reversed after Bernie Ecclestone bunged the Labour government a cool million, the days of Neil Hamilton and Jonathan Aitken had clearly returned. It might be illuminating to spell out word for word what Cameron said in February 2010, three months before the general election, even as the then shadow cabinet were actively engaged in identifying chickens now coming home to roost. In a speech that promised to mend Britain`s “broken politics, he said: (more…)

February 5, 2013

Fair enough

Filed under: Environment,Politics,Transport,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 10:36 pm

Walsall culture
Councillor Anthony Harris, portfolio holder for Leisure and Culture at Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and Conservative member for Aldridge North and Walsall Wood, is not very keen on criticism. Brace yourself Tony.

In the midst of the annual farce of council budget setting, Walsall cabinet, including public servant Harris, awarded themselves a considerable increase in their allowances. We all know that savings, efficiencies, working smarter, rationalisation or cuts as they are known to people connected with the real universe are inevitable under inept local and national government. Councillor Harris, along with his cabinet colleagues, is a fine upstanding local representative of the community he serves and does a marvellous job defending the interests of his constituents. Any other reward for this selfless democratic duty is, of course, simply a bonus that is rightly deserved.

In a rather bizarre letter emailed to a constituent who had the temerity to speak out against savage cuts to vital services, Anthony went on the offensive. The invaluable Brownhills Bob has brought to our attention the rather disturbing communication sent to a founding member of the Save Walsall`s Green Spaces and Countryside group, the remarkable Linda Mason. In the letter, Councillor Harris claims that he is: “a strong supporter of community involvement and I applaud any group working to improve our greenspaces and countryside – as your campaign group claims to do.” Clearly with an ear to the ground and a finger on the pulse, it is comforting to know that the noble councillor realises that the word “claims” has connotations beyond the entitlement to cabinet allowances. The brightest and the best that Walsall can offer continues: “However if you are going to continue to criticise the council publicly I think we are entitled to know on what basis these criticisms are made.” Obviously the councillor is working so hard for his constituents and the people of Walsall that he has not had enough time to read the evidence that forms the basis for criticism.

The honourable, worth his weight gold representative of the people is quite right to say that it is unacceptable for any member of the public to talk to the press about anything other than what a brilliant job Walsall cabinet are doing and in future any evidence or criticism should be presented to the council press office for approval and burial. Furthermore, it is totally irresponsible for Brownhills Bob to publish private correspondence that in an open democracy should remain secret in order to protect the public from false, unfounded and malicious suggestions that Councillor Harris is something other than a local hero and a treasured genius. (more…)

February 3, 2013

It takes a train to cry

Filed under: Birmingham,Environment,Transport — theplastichippo @ 1:06 am
HS2

HS2

The entire HS2 proposal presents a huge dilemma. The crooked coalition government want it so it must, therefore, be a very bad idea. However, opposing HS2 means forming alliances with some very, very strange people.

It takes a lot to stop yourself laughing when the very well off and the privileged complain of unfairness. What could be causing such ire in the leafy shires? Beggars, foreigners, tradesmen, the price of foie gras? No, it`s vulgar public transport that is causing sabres to rattle. When HS2 Phase 1 was finally approved, the landed gentry got themselves into a bit of tizzy. Lord Astor, for example, secure in his stately pile in Buckinghamshire, doesn`t want wretched trains spoiling his view or impeding his pursuit of small red mammals answering to the name Reynard. The noble Lord blames “northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed, particularly in Conservative-held seats.” Old Etonian William Waldorf Astor, The fourth Viscount Astor is a former Social Security Minister in the John Major government and is the stepfather of the Prime Minister`s wife.

As inbred and influential as my Lord Astor is, even though his wealth is inherited from vulgar American, hotelier stock, he is not alone in his opposition to HS2. No less than four cabinet ministers and six junior ministers have constituencies that will be dug up to take 30 minutes off the journey time from London to Birmingham. Quaking Tories now feel the wrath of retired colonels and the genteel ladies of flower arranging clubs and so the high speed line was hastily redesigned to pass under outraged Tory voters in tunnels. The projected cost went from £28billion to £33billion. Tickets from London to Curzon Street in Birmingham are expected to cost about £200.

Lord Rothschild has also objected, fearing that passing trains might shake the dust from his chandeliers. David Allen, the owner of a large estate in Northamptonshire threatened to stop donating to the Tory party. The route near his fiefdom will now be in a tunnel. The second phase of HS2 connecting Manchester and Leeds to Birmingham takes a mysterious and illogical detour within the constituency of Tatton in Cheshire which, by complete coincidence, is the very posh seat of the very posh Chancellor of the Exchequer. The argument for the HS2 Phase 1 route was that it had to be straight to achieve 225 mph but, in Tatton, the super trains will be forced to slow down to negotiate a six mile dog leg that takes the line away from the affluent Tory strongholds of Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Prestbury. With an estimated cost of £93million per mile, that equates to £500,000 to secure each individual vote in an Osborne majority of 1,000 in 2015. Lichfield`s very own Boris Johnston tribute act, the frankly bizarre Michael Fabricant, is screaming about property prices and compensation. Then there is the odious Tax Payers Alliance who are implacably opposed to anything other than tax avoidance by the obscenely wealthy. Given this unholy alliance of self interest, support for HS2 seems to be the only obvious option. However, as with anything touched by the liars and shysters in government, it is not that simple. (more…)

January 21, 2013

Invisible men

Image via Walsall Council

Image via Walsall Council

You can`t beat a good ghost story. Months beyond Halloween, it is deliciously chilling to know that spectres still haunt the streets of Walsall that are beyond the imaginations of Sheridan Le Fanu or even Edgar Allan Poe. The terrifying ghouls are invisible Walsall snow spirits.

To everyone`s great surprise, snow fell in winter on a small island just off continental northern Europe. Oh the humanity as car drivers trembling with fear at the covering of white ectoplasm used first gear and a floored accelerator in the hope of escaping the horror by spinning their wheels to polish snow into ice. If the “right foot make car go” boneheads cannot master driving in snow, what hope for them next week when the pot holes of Hell have opened up again. It is likely that the boy and girl racers lacking in the competence to drive to the conditions are the ones complaining of an absence of rock salt treatment to the highways and byways. Others, however, report experiencing ghostly visitations from huge yellow monsters spewing out grit in some malevolent attempt to keep the roads open. We might never be able to explain the presence of the creatures of the night on “the other side”. Mwuhahahaha…

Okay, Walsall does not boast of the best track record for gritting when the snow descends and the ice forms but, the ghost busters claiming that the roads received no grit seem to be as knowledgeable of physics as they are adept at driving in the white stuff. It seems that the amiable snow rider Brownhills Bob pointed out on the dreadful Facebook that rock salt was not magic and would probably not slaughter household pets. The reason that I don`t “do” Facebook is because it is difficult enough to cope with idiots on Twitter and apparently Bob`s sensible comments were removed from idiotville Facebook because of complaints by some very stupid people. The truth is out there, but some folk still believe in ghosts. (more…)

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