The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Meanwhile, Back in Northampton

I received a circular from Michael Ellis, the Tory MP for my area of Northampton. It appeared to be a questionnaire designed to attack the Liberal Democrat members of the County and Borough Councils, which I found quite amusing. One of the themes was what worries us about the areas we live in and I took great pleasure in mentioning the cuts in public sector workers leading to cuts in essential services; because these things are the issues within the town that concern me the deepest. I expect my reply will be consigned to the bin, especially as I said my intention was to vote Labour at the next local elections.

One of the specific questions was aimed at the current decision not to allow Northampton Saints and Asda to develop Franklin's Gardens so that our rugby club can host big European cup matches rather than having to take the business out of the town and over to neighbouring Milton Keynes (which of course had usurped Northampton's prominence in the last 20 years by virtue of nothing more than a big shopping centre and a main line rather than a branch line railway station). It appears there is a concern among local and regional politicians that we're destroying the town centre and allowing the development of our rugby club will be detrimental to the development of the town centre. Okay...

Northampton Town Centre is dominated by the eyesore that is Greyfriars Bus Station. The plan is to knock this monstrosity down and replace it with a huge extension of the Grosvenor Centre, which already has a number of empty shop units; in a town that has plenty of space and not enough business to fill them. Apparently the thinking is if they increase the size of the town's premier shopping mall then more shops will open and more people will come flooding into town to spend the money that none of us will have in 6 months time.

We seriously believe that some of these pillocks we elect to serve as councillors actually have brain cells. They don't!

Take the thorny issue of parking. If you want to come to Northampton to do some shopping you either pay through the nose to park in one of the pretty shitty car parks or you go somewhere that's free or has a decent enough ratio of shops to car parks to make it worth your while. Leicester might be a city, but you can get lost walking around its centre because of the huge amount of diversity and choice of shops and areas to shop. Northampton, with its proliferation of pound shops, sex shops, pubs, mobile phone outlets, amusement arcades, bars, fast food joints, coffee shops and computer gaming stores, doesn't exactly advertise itself as a place to spend a hard day's shop in. Especially as it is choc-a-block full of either anti-social Brits or Eastern Europeans. The market square with its ridiculously pathetic water spout and its ever dwindling amount of traders was once the biggest outdoor market in Europe; we're probably struggling to be the biggest in the region now. All of these riches are available to us if we park our cars in the poorly kept car parks where we'll discover at the end of the day that we've spent more getting and staying here than we spent in any of the shops.

Retailers have been complaining for ages about the ridiculous parking policies that NBC has adopted. They might not want to see any further development of outlying areas of the town so that the emphasis is placed back onto the town centre, but why are they gradually increasing the radius of parking exclusion zones? The latest 'free' road to be targeted is Georges Street, the one that sort of runs parallel with Grafton Street. It's the road that has the small mosque, the Sikh temple and a few other Asian places of worship; it also has a school and not a lot else. it was, for people who work within staggering distance of Regent's Square, a haven of free parking and for weekend warriors it was a place, not that far from the centre, to park for free and therefore feel more inclined to spend money in the town rather than in parking metres.

Georges Street is now a minimum wait zone; only a few spots by the places of worship have been made exempt, everywhere else is a two hour limit until 1pm. It is nothing more than an attempt to make the people who work in the town to use the extortionate car parks or park even further away from their places of work. It is, essentially, an attack on people by a council that already doesn't really understand the concept of your arse being different from your elbow.

Northampton has an underlying policy of extortion to anyone that needs to use it. The price of a bus journey from where I live to the centre is unbelievable; so unbelievable that it is actually cheaper for me to drive into town and then park as far away from my desired destination as is humanly possible, because the time, discomfort and aggravation is still markedly cheaper than catching a bus. The town is running alive with traffic wardens, whose brief appears to be screw as many people as is possible and they'll get a bonus - my word, that is encouraging people to come into the town, isn't it? This is a town that has harboured aspirations of becoming a city; give me a break, this place could never be a city; it is too colloquial and provincial to even contemplate it - it is run by small and petty minded idiots who have no concept whatsoever about what the residents want and need and will go out of their way to alienate people without a second thought about the long term consequences.

What Northampton needs is a few more councillors from places like King's Heath, Eastfield, Thorplands and Camp Hill, people standing as councillors who up until now have felt disenfranchised by the entire political and social scene. The Big Society is essentially the government saying, 'we're going to give people more say in how things work; if you don't get involved then tough titty, you had your chance, you didn't say anything, live with it.' So the only way for this council to ever be progressive is for its parties to start looking for people who give a shit to stand for local issues, rather than the massive amount of home owning wankers, sorry, councillors, who live in suburbia and hide their heads and consciences away from the crap that goes on in areas the Chronicle and Echo refuse to even acknowledge exist.

People, we are seeing the gradual erosion of our entire country and Northampton appears to be a test case for this. There will be a ridiculously low level of front line services available for use by 2013; the councils will be run by HR departments and 'managers' who think they know what we want better than we do. Your council tax might not go up, but what you get for it will disappear or we'll be charged independently for it. If you think life is crap at the moment, wait a couple of years and suicide will suddenly be a blessed alternative...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Out of Step?

Obviously getting elected to parliament in 2010 means you're inclined to agree with war, either that or I'm just hopelessly naive. For only 13 MPs to vote against military action in Libya suggest that only 13 people in parliament care more about the citizens of the UK than they do those of Libya. Because that has to be the message being sent out from Westminster.

Perhaps I'm missing something. Perhaps I don't understand the power that the UN wields. Perhaps the thousands of people affected by this monstrosity of a government's cuts, care more that we spend £10million a day protecting the lives of citizens of a country that for most of the last 40 years has had nothing but contempt for the UK. Perhaps, when it boils down to it, we'd rather be spending money defending Libya, when thousands of people will barely be able to survive when the cuts take real effect. Perhaps the money spent on this military action is coming from the UN, or from some secret bank account we only use when we get to kill people and blow things up?

I know a lot of other people who feel as passionately about this as I do, so obviously they're just as out of touch as me. I was disgusted that not one single MP asked Cameron where the money was coming from or how he thought people being decimated by his government's cuts would feel about it. My faith in politics took a massive down swing today. Not for a long time have I felt as though I don't want to be here any more. I don't want to think of myself as British. I understand what is happening in Libya; it isn't good and someone should do something about it. Someone who has the money, or the connections or someone who hasn't been involved in every other bloody military action for the last 50 years.

I sit here and wonder if it would even be worth writing to my MP, or Clegg or even that self-righteous twat Cameron and I realise that it's all a bit worthless and pointless. I'm going on a march on Saturday to campaign against the massive cuts. The weather forecast is dreadful and the outcome will not change - we won't see the government change its strategy; we won't see them acknowledging that we vote them in, so we should have some say when we really don't like being made to pay for the banks or the politicians' bad mistakes. Big Society? Make the people that matter accountable? Hold your politicians to account?

Never have I been so disgusted with politicians. They don't serve the people, they serve whatever agenda suits them.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Get Your Libya Yas Out

One day. probably not in my lifetime, we'll have a government that says, "No thanks. Got nothing to do with us. We have enough problems in our own country to get involved in someone else's problems. Yes, we understand that this country that you want to invade/defend/obliterate has lots of oil and a history of terrorism; but if we can't help countries that don't have oil with the same zealousness then we'd rather spend this money on keeping people in work; helping people from getting into massive debt; feeding people who now rely on charities because they're so under the poverty line it's a fucking disgrace...

I'm disgusted by any politician that can support this action. This country DOES NOT need to be the world's deputy police officer. It CANNOT afford to do it while so many thousands of people in this country lose their livelihoods. It SHOULD NOT put even more British forces lives at risk for the sake of oil. This has nothing to do with the people of Libya, if it really was then the UN would have been invading countries with appalling human rights records, or defending Tibet, or protecting Zimbabweans, or supporting Chechens, or protecting the good people of Burma.

This is a fucking disgrace. Blair was wrong to get involved with Iraq. Cameron is an arse for wanting to become yet another prime minister with a war on his hands.

When will we learn that not getting involved is the best way forward?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Hope for the Future Unemployed? Not on Your Life!

Good news! Many people living in Middle England are going to see a slight reduction in their Council Tax.

Woo and indeed Hoo. Unfortunately, while the middle classes won't see any major changes, the working, lower and under classes will feel the pinch because frontline council services will be axed. If Northants County Council increased their tax by 3% - which is less than £30 a year per household - there would be enough money to save 750 of the 1000 jobs that are going over the next few months; it would also help with the next round of redundancies scheduled for December.

But, at least we won't see an increase on our indirect taxes and that means that some people, who aren't affected by the cuts, will be able to quietly think, "I'm all right Jack", because that's what Tory policies are all about. Cameron might harp on about the Big Society, but the reality is Conservatism promotes the individual.

*** is a scary article. It basically explains how, because of the cuts, the Youth Justice Board is losing a lot of its funding, which means that there will be less workers trying to keep our kids on the straight and narrow. Ken Clarke wants less people in prison; to the point where 5 prisons are closing in the next 10 months; yet the police are having their budgets slashed; Probation is having its budget slashed, the Youth Justice system is having it budget slashed. Just how is this government going to get crime figures down and work at rehabilitating offenders when all of the people doing good work are facing the axe?

If you know someone that ends up being a victim of crime, be sure to ask them who they voted for at the last election.

I'm beginning to think that tackling the budget deficit should be a long term plan; one that guarantees the future of this country, especially if neither major political party has the balls to tackle tax evasion issues. The public - all of them - are going to eventually pay for this mess three times and it wasn't even any fault of our own.