‘Ello, ‘ello! This police commissioner caper seems a bit of dog’s breakfast
• Two ways to deal with political turbulence. One is to take immediate action: sack someone; set up an inquiry. The other is to opine, as James Callaghan never quite did: “Crisis? What crisis?” Amid mounting concerns about the elections to find the new cadre of elected police commissioners, policing minster Nick Herbert has opted for the latter. “Forget the carping about police and crime commissioner elections,” writes the man with the plan on the website ConservativeHome. “It’s the summer silly season and the media are landing on anything they can to whip up a story. So – shock, horror – candidates will be disqualified if they have convictions for an imprisonable offence. Just imagine the BBC’s sanctimonious reaction if they’d discovered someone standing with a conviction.” Which would be a reasonable line of defence if the only malcontents were to be found within the media. But, in truth, there is disquiet expressed by Labour types, independents and Conservatives, all of it documented in detail, not least by the admirable website topofthecops. Isn’t shooting the messenger a firearms offence?
• Yes, crisis, what crisis? We should all jolly well be ashamed of ourselves, implying that all is wrong when all is right. But before donning that hair shirt, let us compare and contrast. On one hand, we have Labour’s candidate in Avon and Somerset Bob Ashford. He has had to withdraw because, nearly 50 years ago – aged 13 – he trespassed on a railway embankment and was fined £5. Ashford later became head of strategy for the Youth Justice Board and enjoyed Home Office security clearance. No place for Bob. Whereas Kevin Carroll – he of the English Defence League, who was convicted of a public order offence in 2010 and given a conditional discharge after hurling abuse at Muslims the previous year in Luton, ordered by a judge to pay £175 costs and then another £330 costs when his appeal was thrown out – can stand with the government’s blessing. His was not an imprisonable offence. So as you see, it’s all going very well.
• And the jobless figure released this week – down 46,000 to 2.56 million – would seem to give further reason for optimism. The total is the lowest this year. “Benefits Britain is learning how to work again,” according to the Sun. And there is brand new opportunity courtesy of Tesco. The supermarket behemoth is looking for buyers. Not just anybody. Required, according to the ad, are people who “achieve their targets” by “getting someone else to pay”, “buying for less” and “re-engineering”, which many translate as screwing farmers. Perhaps they’re getting in quick before the introduction of the new code of practice which will ensure that they do the right thing by suppliers. It won’t be a perfect arrangement, but then, every little helps.
• We instinctively feel it’s going well; and here we are guided by Nadia Cenci, a Tory councillor in Ipswich, and also a “qualified confidence and performance coach and licensed neuro linguistic programming practitioner”. She has an approach commendable to any politician. “Why I don’t listen to experts (or facts and figures),” was the subject of Nadia’s blog posting last week. “I have not needed anyone to tell me that global warming is a sham. I knew that years ago. The same as my gut instinct told me that the so-called ice age in the 70s was a load of old rubbish.” Nadia foresaw the financial crash before Vince Cable, “I just sensed it”. She also dreamed her roof would blow off in a hurricane the night before it did. “My then boyfriend called me a witch,” writes Nadia. Ipswich turned municipally to Labour at the last election. Can’t think why.
• And to end, a prayer. This from our scary friends in the fundamentalist group Christian Voice UK. “Thank God for the Russians and the Chinese,” they say. Let us pray “that Britain will pull back from its unqualified support of the Syrian rebels and realise that the Assad regime, with all its faults, remains the last protector of the Christian and Alawite minorities in Syria. Pray for more even reporting of the conflict. Pray that the Russians and Chinese will stand firm against western and Saudi duplicity.” One man’s hero really is another’s villain.
Other posts from this source: Hugh Muir