Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

Cuts – bah! humbug!!

In Dinosaur on August 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Someone once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

Quite true. But the trick for successful politicians is to try to bamboozle as many people as they can, for as long as possible. By the time folk realise what’s going on, the politician has hurriedly left the stage, to write his memoirs in a welter of self-justification.

So far the Cameron-Clegg partnership seems to have been quite successful in kidding folk into believing that their cuts in public spending are necessary because of the dire state we’re in. They tell us that they hadn’t realised what a mess New Labour had got us into until they were able to see the books for themselves.

Oh, really! Come on, pull the other one! I seem to remember, just after the election, being told that the country’s debt increase wasn’t quite as bad as anticipated, and that the economy had rallied slightly during the last days of the last Government. As for “not knowing” – hadn’t Government ministers been reading the Mail or Telegraph? These two newspapers had been shouting words of calamity right through the election. So, too, had the Express – but nobody believes a word uttered by that newspaper these days.

No, the Government is making these sweeping cuts because it wants to. It just couldn’t wait to cut the public sector down to size. The state of the economy was a perfect excuse. After all the wealthier members of society won’t really be affected, will they? They can rise above it – as they did back in the 1930s. Meanwhile, the public services on which most of the rest of rely can go to the wall – whilst Cameron tells us that it’s all for our own good.

The view from the north:

Meanwhile, a reader up in Yorkshire has sent us a cutting from her local paper, The Huddersfield Examiner. Its columnist, John Avison, seemed to have been paying us in the Forest a visit, meeting one popular local character, called simply “Sarah”. On his rounds he bumped into Mark Harper, our MP. “thrust by the events of May 6 into the position of Under Secretary of State for Political and Constitutional Reform”.

This is what John Avison wrote: “This is a bright time, a honeymoon time, for Tories. They are full of confidence and optimism despite the fact that they are poised to become the most unpopular party the country has seen for a century. When the gloss has rubbed off and the people in the street have gone silent for Mark, when services have been cut and when those least able to afford their loss are suffering, the people of this village and all over the Forest will still be going out of their way to talk to Sarah.”

Disorderly behaviour?

I see that the new Home Secretary, Theresa May, has decided to scrap ASBOs (dished out to those deemed to indulge in unruly or anti-social behaviour) and replace them with a system where communities work with the police and other agencies.

It’s all a bit vague when it comes to detail, but with Cameron’s “Big Community” notion in mind, I’m sure I could come up with some suggestions, dredged up from punishments meted out in the past.

Public flogging might have been popular, but I’m afraid flogging is now illegal – so that’s out. But perhaps a return to the stocks might be an acceptable alternative? Rotting fruit and veg could be provided free, for the purpose of pelting the victim (sorry, I mean the accused). Or, for some offences, one of those placards to be warn around the neck of the culprit at all times – you know, “I swear a lot and am abusive” or “I defecate in public places” kind of thing. Alternatively, a curfew could be imposed on offenders – if it didn’t infringe on a person’s right to indulge in the late night/early morning drinking laws.

I don’t really think that’s what Theresa May has in mind. And seriously it’s not a bad idea to re-examine the whole notion of ASBOs. They were a bad idea in the first place, and never really worked. The only trouble I have is in believing that the Tories and their supporters could come up with something better. Their past record suggests otherwise.

No doubt we will see.


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