Monday, 2 April 2018

Now is the season for all good conspiracies to come to the aid of the party

I live a strangely conservative  with a small'c'. At as my want I waste every Sunday reading several newspapers, one is extremely reactionary, one is marginally reactionary and the other one is the O
Observer. Perhaps I should explain myself as to why I waste my Sundays reading such things as the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Times. I really have no explanation, other than many years ago a friend told me that the Mail was as good as a comic and having grown up in Scotland with the Sunday Post I suppose I needed some light relief. The reason we get the Sunday Times is because for the rest of the week Marie does the Times crossword, Not a very good reason but sadly it's all got.

This Sunday all three papers displayed what can only be described as a conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories, if you think the world is being taken over by strange little alien creatures men may have obviously bought British national newspapers and are spewing their irrational theories of world domination to a gullible public.

It should be added that the BBC appears part of the alien empire, and here's one for those who scour blogs and twitter accounts for threats of violence and bullying let me make it clear that if I ever got the chance I would love to punch John Humphrys right in the mush. I expect the police who appear to masquerade as the cleaning agents  of all things naughty in the Labour Party may well turn up to get me. Thank Christ John Humphrys is not Jewish, otherwise who knows what will happen..

Of course the conspiracy that I'm talking about is that one bubbling in the Labour Party, it would appear that the party I was readmitted to about  15 months ago is a hotbed of vicious dangerous evil anti-Semitism. Round every corner and every dark smoky room there lurks a ferocious anti-Semites. At this point I better lay my cards firmly on the table,, but those who heard me say this before it's no surprise but when I was around 14 or so the first political activity I took part in when I first joined the Young Communist league was Street activity with the yellow star movement. That was inthose days and organisation made up of AJEX( the Association of Jewish ex-servicemen) the Young Communist league, the Young Socialists and young trade unionists. What we did in those wild and rough times was to bully, and intimidate, and disrupt public meetings. These were on street markets like Ridley Road East London and they were meetings organised by an outfit called the Union Movement (Nothing to do with trade unions) and organisation founded by Sir Oswald Mosley the leader of the wartime British union of Fascists. In the 1960s they were spreading their racist  aetiology on the streets of London, attacking Commonwealth migrants and the Jewish community in that part of London. What we did was simply prevent them speaking, and quite literally gave them no platform because we destroyed their platforms, their loudspeakers and their leaflets.
Today an awful lot of people talk about fighting anti-Semitism indeed they make an awful lot about fighting anti-Semitism, I don't remember many of them on the streets when we were physically fighting anti-Semites.

It is perhaps an interesting aside that when we were mobilised to get along  to a fascist rally we travelled in London black cabs driven by Jewish cabbies from the TGWU. In those cabs There was always lively discussion and frequently we talked about the issue of Israel and Palestine, the discussions were often heated and on occasion I got a smack in the mouth from a Zionist comrade whoDidn't quite agree with my analysis. However when the cab stopped and we confronted our common enemy all disagreements from the cab were forgotten, we knew who the real enemy was.

What is distressing me if the fact that too many people cannot distinguish between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Of course it's not that simple and I very much doubt if many of the founding fathers of Zionism would find themselves in agreement with what the government of Israel and the religious parties of Israel are doing today. Many of the founding fathers were practical socialists and they were internationalists in the best sense. It is impossible after the genocide of World War II not to support a homeland for the Jews of Europe, perhaps the issueIs how Israel was created and by whom. That is however old history and we are where we are, and the only way forward for everyone is the two state solutionThat amongst others Jeremy Corbyn endorses and argues for, as long as millions of Palestinian people are dispossessed and remain in hideous camps  as refugeesfor decadesThen there will never be peace. I am still waiting, as the flames within the Labour Party off and higher and higher for just one of those MPs and peers to criticise the state of Israel for the events on the Israeli- Gaza border over the last few days.

There is without doubt some dangerous anti-Semitism in some parts of the Labour Party, that is not new, Ernest Bevin was no friend of the Jewish people. All my life I have always known on whose side I'm on, I will fight anti-Semitism and every other manifestation of racism that rears its head anywhere.

But I will never under any circumstances join a demonstration against the leader of the Labour Party with the likes of Ian Paisley junior, and some of those evil Tory hypocrites. Can I remind you as I always do of the words in Ruthie Gorton's song" to understand oppression is to be a Jew-so free Palestine now"

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Northamptonshire County Council is once again in La -la land

For the first time in ages Northamptonshire is becoming newsworthy, it's all over the press, the radio and the television, even BBC Look East appears to be remembered that Northamptonshire is in their region. It is of course because Northamptonshire is now the first English county that appears to be going bankrupt – the fact that all seven Tory MPs have condemned the Tory leadership on the county council and indeed the majority of the backbench County councillors have also called for the Cabinet to resign – an unprecedented moment in our local history.

Of course it's been a long time coming, I have been around in Northamptonshire local politics since 1973, indeed I was elected at the great local government reorganisation that took away county borough status from Northampton and created the two tier system that we have at the moment. It was obvious from day one that the system was a lash up. It seemed to those in central government that it was a tidy solution to problems surrounding local government, and in some places it may have worked, but not in Northamptonshire. It could never work in a county like this, Northamptonshire was always called the county of'spires and squires', that may be true in deepest rural Northamptonshire but as sure as hell it never resonated in an industrial Midland town like Northampton, or indeed some of the smaller industrial towns like Kettering and Corby.

The old rural district councils served a very different role and their history was bound up in a different range of services which they supplied reluctantly to the citizens. The absurdity of the creation of a two tier system in Northampton was so clearly illustrated in the separation of functions between a housing authority and one supplied social services. Many of the problems associated with social housing were also the problems of poverty, overcrowding, inadequate housing, and urban living.

There were arguments that suggested that policing and fire services and even to some extent education should be provided on a larger canvas but reality has always been that the needs of the urban community of Northampton town are not compatible with those of sleepy villages mostly populated by commuters to the larger cities or the living dead.

It was a top down solution that did not work but of course central government of whatever  colour can't resist reorganising local government. This seems to be a philosophy in Westminster that says you have a problem in local government – reorganise!.

Time and time again these reforms have been disastrous. And all have come from some bright-eyed wonk in a Whitehall office, someone thought it would be a good idea to introduce Cabinet government in locally, replicating what went on in Westminster, with an all-powerful executive and entire herd of backbenchers unable to play any part of observers. It might work if you have a cabinet like Mrs May, but it won't work in County Hall. Then of course we had the brilliant idea of of creating Police and Crime Commissioners,Replacing a police authority comprising of local people from all over the county with one elected person, the first time  they tried in Northamptonshire the votewas a paltry 19% and what did we get,Adam Simmonds,the first elected Muppet in history.. Then of course there is the talk always of elected mayors, once again aping the American system. But really all we are seeing is a concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands.

And when you do that without any adequate scrutiny what you get, it seems to me you get chaos bad judgement and frequently what appears to be criminality. The Cabinet government in Northamptonshire is a disaster, there is no other word for it. An experiment that has failed  miserably and has allowed public services to be destroyed from the top downwards.

Probably the worst consequence of local government reform has been not simply the control in the hands  of a small group of mediocre  local politicians but the increasing power of a small group of mediocre senior managers, who, endlessly with ideas to reconstruct, to reconfigure and to reduce  local government. We have a situation where decisions are taken that affect the lives of thousands of people by a small cabal of disinterested professionals and people who like exercising power  without responsibility.

All our problemslocally are ideologically driven by people both the administrators and the so-called political leaders who care only about one thing and that is doing what central government tell them to do and only tells them to do is to cut services to live up to the credo of austerity for all except of course those in power.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Sometimes a film or book arrives just the right time.

This week at the Errol Flynn cinema the film'The Post' directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks was shown. The film was a story of the struggle by the Washington Post, its owner Catherine Graham and its editor Ben Bradley to publish the Ellsberg papers that exposed the decades long cover-up by American presidents, starting with Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson and then of course Richard M Nixon.
It might be considered a historic film in the context that the Vietnam War that was the subject of the leaked documents is now history and that ubiquitous politicians argument" it's time to move on"Might be considered fitting, the sort of thing politicians and more specifically presidents say when they want to cover up an unpleasant truth.
The evidence that Ellsberg uncovered was shocking, it was clear that in the 4000 page it pages of documents that he smuggled out that presidents since Kennedy had known that the war in Vietnam was a cruel deception of the American people that allowed hundreds of thousands to be injured and killed and the greater number of Vietnamese civilians to be murdered in a war that everyone at the top of the United States government knew was unwinnable.
As the news filtered out that the Washington Post and the New York Times both had the information and were going to publish the pressure from the White House and the Pentagon was ferocious, threats of imprisonment were made by the State Department and the CIA( I have no doubt) t to prevent the publication, the allegation of treachery and intimidation of journalists and publishers of both newspapers never let up stop
It of course all stemmedFrom within the White House where a paranoiac, narcissist and bully was the Republican president, Richard Millhouse Nixon. He was a man didn't trust anyone and who despite having taken an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States strangely appeared to have forgotten that important sentence in the constitution about the rights of free speech.
There are many faults in America but the one thing that is really worth holding onto is the constitution that the founding fathers, in my view the most influential being John Adams and Ben Franklin, not to mention Tom Paine, it was a constitution for its time although the principles are universal. It is true there is the clause which the national rifle association claim if the defence of bearing arms by everyone but then that calls was originally written in order that state militias could defend themselves from the possibility of attack by the British government. But the written constitution of the United States is a fine humanitarian document that deserves to be part, with modifications, of every state that claims to be civilised.

But of course Batman people of America hadn't imagined their criminal like Nixon would ever occupy the White House, of course there had been criminals in their posts earlier but in the main they were the sort of criminals that flap about  on the backbenches of the current government ( after they've been slung out of the Cabinet but being naughty boys). Nixon was a special creature and his impeachment was far too late in coming.
The bravery of Graham and Bradley was a brilliant portrait of why newspapers should not be owned by greedy corporations, multimillionaires, and international tycoons. We know historically that so many outlets both in America and in this country have been run by tiny cliques who have used the press for their own purpose, be it supporting fascism of just making themselves filthy rich.
The right to publish was taken right up to the Supreme Court and in a major ruling that denied the executive the right to stop publication two things happened. The supreme justice reminded the court that freedom for the press was enshrined in the constitution and was the intention of the founding fathers to make sure that it would ever remain so. The second thing that the film showed was a furious Nixon in the White House instructing his flunkies that the Washington Post would not be allowed ever again in the White House not even to report his daughter Julie's wedding. His hatred of the Washington Post became a leaf motif of his presidency and to the jolly of all those watching the film the end sequence had a report from the police in Washington talking about a break-in in an office in central Washington.

I think Steven Spielberg has made an astonishing film but not a historical exercise, it could not be more topical than today just think we have a Republican president in the White House who has all the characteristics of Nixon, a man so thin-skinned and indeed so empty headed that every piece of news he doesn't like he describes as fake news, significantly he frequently singled out Washington Post and indeed the New York as  his biggest enemies. Marx said the history repeat itself versus tragedy and then as farce.Trouble is I don't think we are living through a farce however if you want to be positive and you see the glass as half full rather than half empty and you know that every ticket you buy to see'The Post' will annoy Trump mightily- go see it!

Monday, 25 December 2017

A sad thing to do on Christmas Day.

It seems almost perverse to write a blog on Christmas Day, okay there is not much television, there are no newspapers today and its many hours before I confront my Christmas partridge( not mercifully on a pear tree) . However this Christmas I am more than a little disturbed, a few days ago we had a conversation with an old friend in California, Skype is a wonderful tool. Susan, our friend, who is usually the spirit of optimism, the sort of American who could well have been up along there with the founding fathers( except of course she would be a founding mother) who left the old autocracies and tyrannies of Europe to create a new world in a new continent in the spirit of the Enlightenment.

Friends of mine are often quite surprised when they hear me a hardened cynical old leftist speak warmly of the creation of America. Of course it has a history much of which is hideously reactionary that includes the destruction of the Native American people, the ruination of much of the natural resources of the country and of course the horror that was slavery.

Yet yet it's hard not to admire the courage of those men and women who founded the country, who resisted the imposition  of the British Empire and who wrote the constitution that has never been bettered in the history of mankind, although sadly today much of it is ignored and treated with contempt and outright hatred. I know Thomas Jefferson kept slaves( although his death  gave them their freedom) and John Adams may have been a bit of an old detail merchant( yet in the constitution he wrote for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts it enshrined equal education for girls) and even George Washington was a bit autocratic at times.

Yet America produced heroes who challenged the old world  and sought change for the benefit of all mankind, dear old Tom Paine, an East Anglian by birth would have been a remarkable man at any time in history.

So when Susan talked last week about the fears she has for her country drifting into some sort of tyranny, ruled by a despot it seemed to me that her world view was far too pessimistic even for someone living in the belly of the beast.

Then in Sunday's Observer there was an article by Heather Cox Richardson a professor of history at Boston College and sent shivers down my spine and I've been thinking about Susan's words  and also Prof Richardson's piece the last few days. If you have missed the article consider please the opening sentence:

'Since January there have been frightening signs that America is becoming an oligarchy overseen by dictator. From the first, Donald Trump has followed an authoritarian playbook,, beginning with his rejection of objective reality.'s early on to defend the assertion that the crowd at Trump's inauguration was the biggest ever witnessed, presidential spokesperson Kellyanne Conway explained that the administration used"alternative facts". Since then, the president has repeatedly attacked fact-based media as"fake news". Indeed, with his insistence  on alternative reality, from sometimes seems like an elderly Fox news- addled neighbour suddenly given power to make his bizarrely warped view of America  real'.

Prof Richardson goes on to say chillingly:

'But now, it feels all too real, with from delivering on the economic core of his vision.  He has slashed regulations that protect workers, walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership,attacked theAffordable Care Act("Obamacare") and gutted the government. Finally in a dramatic"win" for his administration, the Republicans last week passed a major tax overhaul that slashes taxes primarily for the wealthy and is projected to create an almost $1.5 trillion deficit. Republicans have already said that the only way to address that4 will be with cuts to Medicare and Social Security you.

Prof Robinson pointed out that for decades he has been the policy  of the Republicans that government needed to be small and that regulations and taxes weakened the power of big business to prosper because of course they argued that strong business would eventually ensure a wealthy economy that would trickle down to the poorest in society(sound familiar ?) That's why they were bitterly opposed  FDR'sNew Deal that got America out of the 1930s depression. She went on to draw attention to the policies of Ronald Reagan, whose Conservative policies which argued that government was not the solution to the contrary is problems government he argued was the problem. Of course what that meant was that the poorest in American society got poorer and the rich richer, and more than that it was a white racist policy, because of course so many  Afro-Americans were indeed the poorest and most dispossessed  section of the community.

Reagan personified the rugged Individualist, The myth of the American cowboy hero riding outTo save the virtue of the beautiful white girl.

Trump represents the spirit of Reagan with balls on(an unfortunate image), he has used in a few short months racism and misogyny and as Prof Robinson puts it:
"Brags about how he knows better than anyone how to run a successful business, how to find Isis, how to find  the"best people"for office...... Turning the government over to small cadre of wealthy businessmen, unhampered, to run the country so see fit. When Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore will his cowboy hat and rode his horse to the polls in Alabama, he was deliberately embodying Republican individualist principles.'

If you add to the tribalism and racism inherent in the American Republican right  then it's only a small short step after trashing the press, the State Department, the security services and the FBI and relying only on a small group of unreconstructed Alt-right Crazies(And remember that Nigel Farage is one of them) then the stage is set at some time in the near future for America  to fall apart in chaos  and then the strong leader will emerge taking all power in his own hands(and those of his chums) and declaring that America has redefined democracy in terms of what you would call it- how about neo-fascism?.

Best try and see the musical'Hamilton' before Trump removes the passports from the actors and declares them non-Americans.

Monday, 4 December 2017

A not very clever man has taken over the White House, could things get any worse?

Listening to Trumpy is not something I recommend to anyone of a nervous disposition. Everyday and in every way he seems to be getting more and more disconnected, not merely with his so-called job as president of the United States, but even as a mediocre passing the time of day human being.

It would seem to me that he has lost all touch with whatever reality passed between his ears. In fact the world of the Donald reminds me acutely of what used to be my favourite film, shorthand title was always Marat/Sade and it was based on the play by Peter Weiss and directed by Peter Hall. In case you don't know or have forgotten the story was about a play but on in the asylum by the inmates and directed by the Marquis de Sade. An engaging sexual pervert who gave his name to the practice of sadism. The film was in many ways cruel, complex, and yet very entertaining and the politics were probably on the right side of goodness if not morality.

What is happening in the White House today reminds me of the activities in the asylum and the disconcerting reality is that Trump has none of the finer qualities of de Sade. The play was of course a satire both on postrevolutionary France, and to some extent modern Europe. What however is happening today is very far from satire indeed it is beyond satire. There is no comedy  writer who could invent Donald Trump, I can think of no scriptwriter working in the cinema are on television who could recreate a creature like POTUS , Indeed if the most powerful man in the world needed to wear a baseball cap to remind himself that he was the president of the United States then I fear we will need for the zeitgeist.

A lot of words have been bandied about to describe just who what the president is, I have no doubt what he is he is to put it bluntly an unreconstructed fascist. People are pretending that when he tweeted the videos first put on Facebook by the woman who is the deputy leader of Britain First He could not have been unaware of who she was and what her organisation represented, it is an avowed extremist organisation that exists to spread racism, and to create division amongst people. It is a fact that it has gained the support and approval of no less an organisation in America than the Ku Klux Klan – that must say all you need to know about this organisation. By implication it would seem impossible that the most powerful man in the world would not know the source of his fake news and its purpose.

But then he already has a track record of supporting racist extremism in America, just think Charlottesville. Of course we should all realise where his political trajectory comes from, to use the phrase America First is not an echo of the American fascist movement before the start of World War II. Woody Guthrie, whose guitar always had the slogan'this machine Kills Fascists'wrote a brilliant song about the American First movement who did not want America to enter the war against Nazism and as Woody said"They say America first but they mean America next."

In an ever more complex and interconnected world isolationism is a lousy solution it breeds vision and ultimately war, there is no middle ground. It has echoes all over Europe and many other parts of the world today, it is the underlying meme that is Brexit – the political equivalent of being a Millwall football hooligan who thinks everyone hates him. Let's build big walls, customs posts, padlocked the doors and block up the windows let nobody in and with a bit of luck the rest of the world won't know we're here and then we don't have to speak to them. Whilst the notion of ourselves alone might have worked 50 or a hundred years ago it is no longer valid in this century. Those who want to cut off the rest of the world can only do so by creating a ghetto, Trump wants a ghetto where he can rule supreme for as long as his hair doesn't fall out. Farage longs for a little Englander nation that doesn't have to talk to foreign people (but of course he still happy to take a pension of £73,000 from those foreigners across the channel!)

The world has never been more interconnected and it seems more than ever that the human species must hang together almost certainly it will hang separately.

Monday, 6 November 2017

It's about time I spoke again to the Nation

Well, what a tangled web some people seem to weave.Whose covering what up?In a world dominated by a 'superpower' that manages to elect a 100 carat moron as it' President and 52% of the British population can believe a phoney statement written on the side of a bus  I suppose anything can happen.
And that appears to be the new reality,fake news has always been with us, the only difference today is that the fake news is probably the real news and the pillocks who denounce the news as fake are themselves fakes .
Right now we are in the middle of the crisis of confidence in the behaviour of members of Parliament and Cabinet ministers and who knows who else? I have no doubt that there are some shady people operating within the palace of Westminster, But that's hardly news fake or otherwise. People with power tend to abuse that in the process of self-aggrandisement and the usual construct of ego tripping.
Why should we be surprised, what bothers me, from a socialist perspective if the anyone should be surprised. Way back at beginning of the last century when the Labour Party was created it was set up to represent the interests of working people unlike the Tories and the Liberals who represented the then, as now, the power elites who owned most of the wealth and behaved with the arrogance of the ruling class. Parliament is not a neutral benevolent institution designed to promote fairness and equality or justice. For a century the Labour Party has tried to amend and to make Parliament more representative of the interests of working people. It has made some progress over the years it has sometimes defended the interests of those who elected it to represent them and has fought against the worst iniquities of the class society which we still find ourselves in.
There are some who believe that the class war is a historic war, over and done with and we all live in the Sunny uplands of a benign meritocratic society. That we are all equal, that we will have the same chance, that we all benefit from the system equally
. Yet the news about the way the rich and their hedge funds and their secret companies and their offshore investments are able to salt away billions of pounds without paying taxShould really remind us all about the society that we live in. Why even our own beloved Mrs Saxe-Coberg Gotha can manage to hide millions of pounds in some territory in the Caribbean really demonstrates what's going on. Of course we are told that dear didn't know where money was going, the old dear who guards seriously her wealth and her position, to believe that she didn't know her advisers were stuffing chunks of fortune in offshore accounts is a bit like believing in fairies are the divine right of kings.
By now Parliament should be able to put a stop to the shenanigans of those who rule, be they the old aristocracy or Lord Ashcroft. But then that is assuming that Parliament has the will or the capacity to change the power structures in this country.
And so I come back to my original point about what's going on in Westminster today that it attracting so much prurient interest, the sex lives of the denizens of the Gilded Palace. What I find disturbing is Not simply the arrogance and exploiting of positions of power but the dreadful reality that the reasons why so many of those young people who are assaulted do not report what happened to them is that they will damage their career chances. Working as an intern should not be seen as a step towards a parliamentary career, for a socialist working in Westminster is not a job in itself but a task to help the liberation of the people that they are supposed to be working for,And that is the core of the problem, MPs certainly from the Labour Party should be not professional bourgeois .politicians but rather representatives of their communities.It seems to me whether Labour representative calls himself herself a politician then that's where the rot sets in. The poet EE Cummings said of politician" he's an arse on which everyone sits except a man."
Politics is not a trade or profession, it is not a route for someone to make a career, or to get rich, or to be powerful, or to be idolised – the best people in parliament have been those who came from being elected by their workmates to represent them against the bosses to fight for their rights in the workplace and to serve not for themselves but for those who have no voice and need someone to act as a spokesperson. I despise those in the Labour Party who see themselves as politicians and not socialists, who see a career structure be it as a full-time union official, being a councillor, or being an intern or a Parliamentary Assistantis that will look good on their CV When they go for interview to a constituency party.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

PCC – who needs them?

In a piece in the Times a few days ago Jawad Iqbal, a former BBC executive wrote' Police and crime commissioners, your time is up'. It struck me that it's taken the mainstream media a long time to realise that PCC's really never had time, it was an ill-conceived, dumb beyond belief, idea whose time had never come.

Of course we know what was behind the concept it was an idea that originated in the United States where they elect police chiefs, local dog catchers, and even dangerous and mediocre TV celebrities as President. The whole notion was designed to centralise political power over a public service into the hands of one person, which of course means that he or she is easily manipulated and will do what central government wants him to. PCC's are a shameless political appointment designed for greater central control and of course to allegedly save money.

The whole experience has been a disaster during the first round of elections the average turnout was 15%, during the second batch of elections the percentage went up to an average of 26%, because of course it was held on the same day as the county council elections.

We in Northamptonshire had probably the most inept and useless PCC in the short history of PCC's. His name was Adam Simmons, and his experience such as it was, he had been the political assistant a.k.a. gopher for the leader of the council, to the Tory group on the county council. Added to which it would appear now that he actually lived in Leicestershire, so much for being the local police and crime Commissioner.

Nationally PCC's control a policing budget of £12.5 billion and they have the final say in appointing a chief constable. They can also appoint their own staff and in Northampton shire's case that meant for instance one of the deputy PCC's just happened to be the Tory election agent for Simmonds election. You may have noticed by the way that Neil the PCC's deputy had any actual experience of policing, or indeed any experience of running a large complex organisation, but no matter they were loyal party placemen and women. Simmonds made a number of appointments to his staff which resulted for instance in him having the largest public relations department of any PCC in the country and indeed larger than any previous police authority.

He also had grandiose plans, to recruit hundreds, maybe even thousands of special constables, to create a policing college at Northampton University, to target crime and to bring down the crime statistics, to create a faith commission under his auspices and to pretend that he was the reincarnation of President John F. Kennedy and I understand he even installed a rocking chair in his office as well as a photograph of the late president and he called his office the West Wing.

And of course he decided to sell off the police headquarters, build a new one outside Northampton and indeed many miles away from the M1 motorway. Of course he wasn't simply moving the headquarters which by the way include a training suite, a training ground for practising riot control, a firing range and dog kenneling and motor vehicle repair shops. All of those as well as communication centre were to be spread all over the county and staff moved accordingly. Of course he wasn't going simply to close the headquarters he was going to convert the building into a free school based on religious principles (he being a passionate Evangelist) in an area where there is actually no need for extra school places. The fact that he got the county council(remember who you work for) to build a roundabout outside the putative school at a cost understood to be around a quarter of million pounds.

I suppose the creation of a super high powered mock presidential crime Commissioner might have been worth having had he not managed at the same time to reduce the number of full-time police officers, to demoralise those who still worked for Northamptonshire and all this while crime figures went up. The simple reality is that there are fewer police officers on the beat, and those that are are working larger areas with fewer officers.

Northampton-shire's experience is not unique, in Iqbal's piece he points out that crime figures in England and Wales show the biggest annual rise in a decade, with rising levels of the most serious and violent offences:
"All the more reason for precious funds to go into front-line policing – not into a discredited vanity exercise that flatters the egos of compromised busybodies and failed MPs".

Of course there has always been an argument to democratise policing in this country, in a county like Northamptonshire it is possible to organise a directly elected police authority with each district having one or two elected members who by the way could be elected on the same day as  county council elections and that way the entire county could have representation without maintaining the farce of a police commissioner that at best was a lousy experiment. We now understand that the PCC is going to take over the fire service – such a proposal is the way of madness. I hope that the next Labour government will move to a directly elected police authority and this tragic wasteful experiment will be ended for ever.