Posts Tagged ‘POLICE’
For reasons unknown Werrity has become a familiar cry on the allotments. I can only imagine that his supposedly dashing yet mysterious adventures, at the time when he was helping Liam Fox to run the Ministry of Defence, bewitched us all. Of course we all know that it ended in tears, but to this day whenever we encounter a problem the cry goes up to ‘Send for Werrity’. Th gentleman in question has faded from the headlines but today his boss has emerged from hibernation.
Dr Fox is, to put it mildly, a little to the right of our dear leader in political thinking. He obviously feels that the passing of Margaret Thatcher is an opportune moment to restore the standing of the Conservative Party in the eyes of all true blues, and to that end he is about to sound a call to arms. He is demanding a total freeze in all state spending for up to five years, a draconian move that would yield about £345 billion.
“We need to stop talking simply about growth and start talking about wealth creation”, he will say. We must, he will argue, reduce taxes and remind many why they were drawn to the Tory cause under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership. As a move aimed at unseating Cameron and Osborne it is a clever move but, as with all actions of a Fox, it risks a huge backlash.
It has to be said that things in the wealth department are somewhat different to those of Maggie’s day. She argued in favour of the small entrepeneur who, through sheer graft and enterprise, could create cash for himself and gainful employment for others. She would not have approved of tax-avoiders or executives of banks and energy companies pocketing millions. She would also have drawn the line at freezing every state service to the point where all but the very rich would suffer.
Fox is not merely talking about benefits here. Just imagine the effect on the NHS or police. No problem for those able to afford private medicine or who, like the Doctor, live in houses with electronic gates and private security to hand. For the rest of us – it doesn’t bear thinking about.
But credit where it is due. Dr Fox has given us an insight into right-wing thinking, one well concealed by the seemingly moderate, albeit confusing, policies of the Cameroons.
If his intention was to swing doubting voters at the local elections it seems likely to backfire. The great man should have sent for Werrity!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY; ” To suppose, as we all suppose, that we could be rich and not behave as the rich behave, is like supposing that we could drink all day and keep absolutely sober!”……Logan Pearsall Smith 1865-1946
Very cold this morning, with a thin sheet of ice covering the allotments pond. But so far we have been spared the forecast snow, so blessings were being counted as we codgers began our daily battle with mud and chickens alike. Unsurprisingly there was a good deal of discussion about the sudden resignation – if that is the appropriate term – of Pope Benedict XVI. Catholics, and non-Catholics alike, have developed great respect for the present incumbent and have become increasingly aware of his frailty. His conclusion that he is unable to muster the strength that leadership in this new age of high visibility and constant travel demands is a brave and selfless one.
Inevitably there will now be intense speculation around the resulting election, and for two reasons. The Church is important to many people across the globe, and deep-down we all love any measurement of popularity. And there are a few of those available on this cold February morning!
First up is the latest ICM survey. Labour has forged a 12-point lead over the Conservatives for the first time in almost a decade. Ed Miliband’s party stands at 41% of the vote, with the Tories on just 29%. Less surprising is the news that the Lib Dems have sunk to 13%, only just ahead of Ukip. The truth will out. It is hard to understand the success of Miband et al, easier to imagine that their popularity is the result of the self-inflicted wounds of our dear leader and his pals. He has, it seems, alienated nearly every woman in the land for the poll reveals that whilst Labour enjoys only a modest lead amongst men, the gap amongst the fairer sex has rocketed to 26 points!
Of greater interest amongst us codgers, given our delight at the thought that anyone could be less popular than us, is the latest edition of the Most Trusted league tables. Asked ‘Do you trust the following institutions?’, 70% said yes to the police and 69% to the NHS. Surprisingly the Banks score 62%, above the BBC at 59%. Less surprisingly, only 14% nodded when MPs were named. Despite all our supposed disillusion with police, NHS, and the Banks, it is the people in Westminster that have actually sunk to rock-bottom in public esteem.
When asked about the political leaders no more than 30% approved of our dear leader, and Messrs Miliband and Clegg could only scrape together 26% and 21% respectively. For what it is worth Churchill regularly polled in the nineties.
An interesting picture isn’t it? We do not believe what our political leaders think we believe. Proof positive of that came when people were asked about the position of Sir David Nicolson, head of the NHS. Ministers insist that he enjoys the trust of the public. When asked, 76% said he should either go or consider his position!
The truth will out!. And what is clear this morning is that our leaders lack the honest self-awareness of the Pope to mention but one!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: “When he who hears doesn’t know what he who speaks means, and when he who speaks doesn’t know what he himself means – that is philosophy!”….Voltaire
According to several leading newspapers the whole world is debating the likeness, or otherwise, of the painting of the Duchess of Cambridge. I can only conclude that our group of codgers is from another planet, for I didn’t hear even the vaguest reference to it as we cleaned out the hens this morning. Apart from those who regard studying the Royals as a substitute for reality, it seems unlikely that many people have given the matter any thought at all. As for the repeated references on the Beeb to ‘the most beautiful woman in the country’, I can only remark that there are various young women in our road who, given the same expensive hairdressers, make-up specialists, and clothes, could contest the claim.
What my pals did discuss was “Giving Victims a Voice”, the hastily prepared report on the Savile scandal. Frankly we are appalled by it. We do not question for one moment that Savile was a vile creature, and in saying that we are not in the embarrassing position of people like Jeremy Hunt who, just 15 months ago, paid tribute to his ‘sense of fun’ and talked of the ‘lasting legacy he leaves behind’. But our sense of outrage concerns the way in which the report has conveniently converted allegations into offences.
All we know that we did not know before is a series of statistics – the number of people who have come forward, the number and nature of offences alleged (126 indecent assaults, for example), their incidence over years and their geographical spread. The report is clearly right when it says there used to be an attitude of mind which dismissed accusations of sexual assault too easily. But it cannot be right to go so far the other way that every accusation must be considered true. It insists that everyone referred to in the statistics be described as a “victim” rather than a “complainant”, yet it cannot know whether this is an accurate description.
I found myself wondering how the inquiry would have treated a liar. Suppose X had pretended that he or she was a victim in the Seventies. X could have surrounded the claim with accurate, checkable facts about when Savile was where. Would X have automatically been believed, categorised as a “victim” and placed in the line for compensation?
Of course it is highly unlikely that many people who came forward are making things up, but it is not unknown for some people to say things which are not true, especially where celebrity and the prospect of money come into play. If the police and the NSPCC absolutely deny this possibility, then they are unfit to investigate iniquity of any kind.
Our concern is that because this report subjects stories against Savile to no tests, it puts unfair moral pressure on the other, related investigations now taking place. Suppose the NHS or BBC investigations come across a claim which they conscientiously believe to be false. Suppose – even more likely – that they encounter a claim which they simply feel they cannot judge accurately? If they refuse to discipline staff for errors or omissions, will they then be excoriated? Will they be accused of ignoring victims because they insist on sticking to known facts? And will all those now officially labelled victims be able to sue, regardless of proof?
We have to ask ourselves how, if every accusation is automatically believed, any sane person will ever again want to be a teacher, nurse, doctor, child-care assistant, charity worker, scoutmaster or children’s TV presenter. The moment we allow the police, NSPCC or anyone else to validate allegations without proper trial this is the risk being opened up by this ludicrous report.
Interestingly the one irrefutable fact that it produces is the utter failure of the police to bring Savile before the courts. Time and again they dismissed complaints. And they are still doing so. Official statistics reveal that the annual rate of alleged offences logged is running at 15,670 of which only 2910 went to court where only 1070 convictions were obtained.
We will never know for certain the depths to which Savile sank. What we do know is that there must be a total overhaul of the way in which the law-enforcement agencies deal with allegations. The way in which they have attempted to present a report based on suppositions based on the mood of the moment does not bode well. Small wonder that to this day only 15,670 women come forward, to seek police help, out of the estimated annual total of 95,000 rapes!
INSULTS; SOME FAMOUS QUOTES: “He’s not unlike Hitler, but without the charm”…..Gore Vidal “I admire him, I freely confess. And when the time comes I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake”……Mark Twain “He’s one of those people who would be enormously improved by death”……Saki “I treasure every moment that I do not see her”…….Oscar Levant “The answer is in the plural and they bounce”,,,,,Edwin Lutyens “Who is one cell short of an amoeba?”…..Anne Robinson “I decided that the worst thing you can call Paul Keating, quite frankly, is Paul Keating”…..John Hewson “A hundred thousand sperm, and you were the fastest?”…..Jim Hightower
The more romantically inclined amongst the hen-keepers were quite touched by the pictures of our dear leader and his wife walking hand-in-hand down a deserted street to enjoy a celebratory birthday meal. They were less tearful when a newspaper reporter showed us a wider shot. The street had been closed off, and there were armed police positioned at both ends. Forget the Mills & Boon stuff, it was what the politicos like to call a photo-opportunity. After cleaning out the hens we reflected that nothing is quite what it seems in this age of spin.
So it is in the case of Andrew Mitchell. The prime minister has attempted to draw a line under the incident involving the Downing Street police by remarking that Mitchell has apologised and it is time “to move on”. The police are not prepared to do that, and for good reason. Yesterday Chris Jones, secretary of the West Midlands Police Federation, said that both our dear leader and his Chief Whip have effectively accused the police of lying.
He went on to say that the police accept the fact that he has apologised for his offensive langauge, but the fact remains that “they in effect are intimating that the officers were untruthful in a formal report. They insist that he did use the term ‘plebs’ and their integrity, and that of every other officer, is now being brought into question”. Chris Jones and numerous other leading police officers demand that Mr Mitchell either admits that he used the word or resigns.
The police are extremely concerned that the prime minister is effectively opening the door for challenges to police sworn statements in every criminal court. Defence counsels will argue, not unreasonably, that since the prime minister has accepted that police statements are falsified the one incriminating their clients may well be similar. This is the route to chaos. And those who move in senior government circles privately accept that the renowned bully Mitchell almost certainly did use his standard form of abuse for anyone considered to be below his station.
The underlying problem here seems to be a belief on the part of the establishment that the plebs – the whole nation minus the 10% who own most of the UK’s wealth – are incapable of seeing through any ruse. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the NHS reforms which are now in full flow. Already waiting lists are extending and many services are being rationed. There are many examples but the one concerning diabetes will suffice to illustrate what is happening.
There are a soaring number of new diabetic cases each year but 218 diabetic specialists have been dismissed. Sub-services are being outsourced and inexperienced high street commercial clinics are now providing treatment, with no knowlege of their history and no ability to carry out chacks on vascular problems. Barbara Young, head of Diabetes UK, says that the diabetic care pathway is being broken up, and the risk to patients is multiplying.
Over 400 NHS services are now in the process of privatisation. The government’s response is that GPs are taking over commissioning and they know best the needs of patients. Like the romantic birthday picture this is an illusion. The Royal College of GPs report that, despite a few enthusiasts, most of the new commissioning groups are not led by GPs, and the majority have none on their boards!
Meantime almost a third of NHS Foundation Trusts are feeling obliged to begin the process of increasing the number of beds reserved for private patients. The service that has served us all for so long is in the process of breakdown, we plebs are expected to be incapable of seeing beyond the facade.
None of which constitutes a condemnation of this particular government since society has reached the point where politicians in general have come to see the public at large as malleable, capable of believing anything.
This is the British version of what has happened in many more volatile societies. Someone has to have the moral courage to declare that enough is enough. If our dear leader was to take a stand for truth by dismissing Mitchell it would be a good sign.
We all know that the police are not beyond reproach, but they are all that stands between us and anarchy. To declare them as totally dishonest is a very dangerous practice, a lot is being put at risk to save the skin of one arrogant bully!
Our headline may have puzzled you. Are the codgers about to exclusively reveal that the Labour leader once fell foul of Dixon’s descendants? No, the words are intended to sum up a test that we believe should be applied as the latest party conference kicks off in Manchester. For days now, as we have gathered for our mid-morning brew on the allotments, we have been bemused by the superficial material appearing in the media about someone who might one day be the prime minister. We decided that the debate should really centre around policy, hence the reference to the police.
Several days ago we revealed talks between David Cameron and his press friends in which he called for attacks on the Labour leader. The newspapers have responded with gusto, encouraged no doubt by hints that our dear leader might be persuaded to ignore whatever Lord Leveson comes up with. Ed Miliband, they tell us, has no charisma, is hopeless in front of cameras, has a nasal twang and none of the beaming joyfulness of a Blair or Cameron.
The Daily Torygraph has this morning wheeled on mad Boris. He pays glowing tribute to Tony Blair, “the most successful Labour leader in modern times”. Anyone, says Boris, could cheerfully vote for Blair. “You could vote for Blair and use private medicine, vote for Blair and send your children to private schools, vote for Blair and be a well-heeled boss of a multinational corporation”, says the mad one.
I suppose that the problem facing the would be character-assassins is that Miliband can hardly be expected to have detailed policy proposals two years ahead of an election campaign. But they really do seem to be scraping the barrel. We codgers include in our numbers people of every political persuasion, and many of none. But we all agree on one thing, we are sick to the back teeth, that we no longer have, with political leaders with a bloated swaggering sense of personal destiny. And we are sick of actors posing as earnest leaders. Remember those inspiring performances by Nick Clegg in the TV debates?
Of course we acknowledge that Ed Miliband is less than a bundle of laughs, not the sort of geezer you would hire to entertain your kids on a wet bonfire night. We fear for him in any TV debate with the Morecambe and Wise of politics. Compared to Blair he is a true pleb. But he does appear to be honest.
We codgers on the jury are out. Our judgement on the latest new-boy on the political circuit will be based not on the shape of his nose but the shape of his policies. These may be early days but we would like to set him a little test. What will he do about the police?
Yesterday the home secretary, Theresa May, joined hundreds of people in York Minster paying tribute to police officers who have died on duty, including the two PCs killed a fortnight ago in Manchester. We believe that she had no moral right to be there for this government has done more to imperil police lives that any previous administration.
Right now, in areas such as Salford, there is rampant gun-crime. Harsh cuts to police numbers mean that regular round-the-clock neighbourhood policing has had to be curtailed and informal communication with the community has been lost. Response times to less than murder have slowed down. This is not unique to Greater Manchester, across the country communities have lost their local police-stations and their community officers. The police have no choice other than to become reactive rather than proactive.
Even in town-centre disturbances it is now often the case that two officers have to attempt to contain large groups of aggressive drunks. Back up can be a long time coming and the danger of serious injury is an ever-present nightmare.
Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Mnchester, spoke movingly yesterday about the thousands of officers killed, and the uplift given to his force by the public response to the deaths of Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes. We codgers live in the region and we know that he is right, people from every walk of life have been deeply moved by what happened to those two dedicated young women. We also know that many are concerned at what is being done to the police in our name.
When ministers comment that times are hard and everyone must tighten their belts they miss a central truth. Whether we realise it or not we all rely on the police to maintain order in an increasingly fractious society. Army apart, it is a unique calling, the threat of serious injury or death never more than a dark corner away. And the fewer police there are the greater the danger to them and to to all of us.
So there is our challenge. We care not a fig that Ed Miliband cannot match Cameron, Clegg, Blair or mad Boris in the acting business, we care only about his plans. If he has one for restoring the morale and safety of our police we would like to hear it!