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Month: February 2012

Valentine’s Day.

Yep that’s all I’m going with in the title. Short but sweet (just how I like my women – oooooooooo).

Today I went to ASDA to get my upply of juice. Yes there are nearer stores but they don’t have the variety. If I want orange then I can walk over the road but if I want White Grape & Peach or Orange & Mango or Wild Blueberry then it is a longer trek. So I went there at lunchtime and walked in to see no fewer than seven women who worked there by the entrance around the flowers section. Helping men telling them what to buy. Walking past them I glanced to the self-scan tills and they were full of men – both young and old with flowers. I would say I was full of joyous emotion but it would be a lie.

Nothing wrong with romance says I but when society is forcing romance on to people then I think there is an issue. I have always been one of those people that doesn’t celebrate things when society tells me to. I don’t care about my birthday and I don’t care about Christmas. It doesn’t need Mother’s or Father’s Day for my parents to know that I love them. It just doesn’t. And yet society tells us that on those days we have to do something special to show that you care. Why?

The same comes on this festival that is going on right now. I’m single and I wonder if I was in a relationship how I’d feel about the situation. Would I be more focused on my hatred of being told how to feel and how to act or would my desire to show the person that I was with that I cared about them? I can’t answer that question straight out but I have an inkling as to which way I’d go and if you know me then you have the same inkling.

Valentine’s Day has just become a commercial day when we are told how to act and how to feel. If you are single then you get depressed. If you are in love then you are as happy as can be. If you are in love and your partner makes no effort then you feel anger towards them.

Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m just naive and don’t understand the ways that things work (a few people have called me naive recently) and maybe I just filled with resentment that I’m not all loved up. I’d dispute all three of those points but they are out there in case people want to believe it.

There is nothing wrong at all with being single. I get so saddened by friends who stay in unhappy relationships because they are scared of being single or of never finding anyone else. Both men and women that I know are in these situations. It’s like being in a relationship is a status symbol that we should all look up to. Well do you know what? It isn’t. I hate the idea of status symbols anyway. On days like these everywhere you look you are told that being in love is a great thing (which no doubt it is) but if you aren’t then you are missing something.

I’m 28 and as far as I recall I have never received a Valentine’s Day card from anyone serious (I have received some joke ones in the past) and it doesn’t bother me one jot. All I got through the letterbox today was the new Thomson Local. I personally do not feel any anger or resentment towards those in love but I do have anger and resentment that people are forced into doing things that they don’t want to do by society and the fact that that same society is making people feel lonely and depressed. Should we ever be in a situation where we feel bad because of who we are? I don’t think so.

Que Sera Sera and all that. It just makes me sad that this day and this occasion brings out such low emotions for so many people. I can see it in my Facebook friends timeline and on my twitterfeed. Many people saying they don’t care (but secretly do) and many who are genuinely gutted and feel like they are worthless. Society has told them that. That is rather a sad state of affairs isn’t it?

As for me I have no doubt my February 14th will be riveting. I have lemon and pepper southern fried chicken bits to put in rolls for dinner. I may go to the chip shop to get some chips n all. I have an episode of Storm Chasers to catch up on and I’ll be just fine. Not doing what society tells me to nor feeling what society tells me to feel has its upsides and today is one of them. I’m single and I don’t care. If someone walks into my life who’ll make me want to change that then good times but would I care if I was still single for the 2013 version of today? Probably not. I’m happy and content with my life with or without a partner and that is (in my opinion) a very good place to be.

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Liberal Reform have launched – here is what they have to say

Whilst watching the all-new Pointless (now in HD) I received an e-mail from Liberal Reform with their launch details. Here it is republished ad verbatim (without me putting in all the hyperlinks):

We are today delighted to announce that Liberal Reform has launched.

Liberal Reform is a new membership group within the Liberal Democrats, committed to fostering debate and variety in the Lib Dems, and promoting a rounded liberal ideology in Lib Dem policy. This includes the economic liberalism that the founding members feel is currently lacking in representation in the party.

The group views any pacts or attempts to align ourselves with other parties as electoral suicide, which prevents the Liberal Democrats from pursuing a thoroughly liberal agenda, and which can only benefit other parties.

You can read more about our proposals for four cornered freedom at

Co-founder Mike Bird explained:
”We agree with Nick Clegg’s statement at our Autumn Conference in 2011 that “we are not on the left, and we are not on the right. We have our own label: Liberal.”

Advocating personal, political, social and economic liberalism, will distinguish us from other political parties. “

Commenting further, co-founder Zadok Day said:
“Only a message of four-cornered liberalism will keep us true to our proud liberal heritage, and give the Liberal Democrats a strong, distinct, platform in upcoming elections.”

As well as our website, you can join our Facebook page (which has attracted over 100 members in less than 24 hours of being live,) and Twitter.

I’m sceptical of these groups as I have mentioned before but one thing the party does need is more ideas. We all have our buttons that we think are the most important. Some think equality for gay and lesbians is the top priority. Some think it is equality with women and race. Some think taxing the rich to give to the poor. Some think having a first-grade NHS is the most important thing. Ending of the post-code lottery for services and so on. So having groups that act as smaller think tanks isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It isn’t leading to the breakup of the party. Well not as currently constituted anyway.

As for any pacts or aligning ourselves with other parties as electoral suicide. I have to say I disagree with this. The rest of the world with a multi-party system seem to cope with coalitions in a mature way. Just because we aren’t used to it doesn’t mean that we can’t. The Liberal Democrats should and are able to standalone on their own two feet but if the numbers dictate that coalition is the best way forward for the country then we should not shirk our responsibilities.

So if these groups all put together ideas that can be discussed by the members at Conference then by all means it sounds fine. I know there is a lot of discontent around that these groups might breakaway from the party at some point but that would be a moronic and short-sighted move. One that would assure that the liberal centre-ground is not represented in Parliament for generations. I just don’t see this happening.

So I’m fine with these groups as long as they work towards the same goal which is to better the party as a whole and put more ideas out there that can become Liberal Democrat policy. We can only bleat on about the Pupil Premium and rise in Income Tax for so long. With such a diverse, talented and intellectual membership the party should be able to be put together a plethora of ideas that can be used to make the party stronger and more unique to the electorate going forward.

If that is the goal then good times. If it’s not then I worry. For the record I am not a member of any of these groups. I am neither cool enough nor smart enough.

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Did Aaron Ramsay kill Whitney Houston?

Just when I think Journalism has hit a new low it only goes and shows off that it can in fact go even lower. I had seen the tweets and the forums linking Aaron Ramsay’s goals to deaths of famous people but when a newspaper picks it up and not just picks it up – actually runs it as a story – and not just runs it as a story says that it is an exclusive my soul ebbs away just like the atmosphere in the solar winds.

That bastion of knowledge The Sun are today running a story entitled Aaron Ramsey in goal link to Whitney death and in the by-line it proudly proclaims ‘EXCLUSIVE By ALEX PEAKE’.

The story links the Welsh midfielders goals to the deaths of Osama Bin Laden, Steve Jobs and Colonel Gaddafi. Like the player has this power that means that if he scores then some famous person will be struck down in the next 72 hours because that is just the way it is. God cannot allow both a goal and a famous life to continue. One must be traded for another.

This is actually in a real newspaper. This isn’t The Onion. This is a real newspaper and the journalist was happy to put his (or her) name to it. Sometimes I just can’t believe how desperate newspapers are for content. I shouldn’t be surprised but I am. I think the biggest shock is the ‘exclusive’ bit. Really folks? An exclusive?

Lets round off with the final line of the story, ‘One fan wrote on a forum: “I’m worried things will get out of control when he scores more.”‘

Yes I think my neck is going to be sore in the morning with all the shaking of it that I am doing at the moment.

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The Daily Mail says the Lib Dems are writing the budget. They seem upset. Good times.

‘No reprieve for the middle classes in ‘Lib Dem Budget’ after Osborne refuses to change plan to cut child benefit payments’ booms out the Daily Mail this morning. That has certainly given me reason to be optimistic for the week ahead. Delving further into the story the Lib Dems are seemingly mounting a charge against the upper middle classes to fund tax breaks for the less well off. So robbing from the rich to give to the poor. The party are like modern day Robin Hood’s. This hasn’t gone down well with the people who have commented on the article but more of that later.

The Lib Dems want to slash tax relief on pensions on those earning a six figure salary or more from 40p to 20p in the pound. This was apparently raise £3.7bn for the treasury. Sounds like a good idea to me. Count me in. They also want new green taxes that will increase the rate that we’ll see everyone taken out of Income Tax until they have earned over £10k in a financial year. This seems good. Also the plans on striping child benefit payments for those who are earning in the 40p tax bracket. Not nice but not a disaster either. Also seems that there will be no movement on marriage tax allowance which has been one of David Cameron’s big things. Seems like the Lib Dems aren’t budging on that one.

So basically according to the report which I shall link to here the Lib Dems are punching above their weight and moving the coalition away from Tory heartland to a more liberal outlook. Are the party after two years of finding their feet and finding their voice starting to find their power and have learned how to wield it?

It certainly seems that way. If this report is accurate then it will be a good budget for those who need it most. Whilst it might not exactly be robbing the rich to give to the poor it will be the better off helping out the poor and isn’t that what Mr Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe bleated about last week when he disaffected from the Lib Dems? He just showed that things in politics take time and you can’t change everything overnight – certainly not when you are a minority party in a coalition.

Lets see what the Daily Mail readers think. These are real comments from real readers and at the time of posting are the most green arrowed.

Cameron you make us sick you hammer us for being married and yet you preach about the family and couples staying married, what incentive do you give? Well we remain married, struggling and sick of the society you seem fit to create and mismanage. You need to get out along with all the other people that do not belong and drain this country of it’s life. You are giving this country away.

You’ve now lost my vote and I suspect, many more. UKIP next for me.

We cannot go on like this Dave

I always thought the Tories were for family values, well if you take things away from a married family what is the point in joining together?

Could someone please remind me. WHO is the Prime minister of this god forsaken country??????????????

The end is nigh, both of marriage and the family. Society is falling apart and the PR stuntman and his idiot Chancellor are too dim to realise.

Another broken promise from the liar Cameron. All his broken promises will be remembered at the next election. He must hold the record for the largest number of broken promises, second must be Nick Clegg. Add the two together and go have the biggest pair of promises breakers in history.

As a Conservative voter of many years standing, never have I felt so betrayed and ashamed by a Conservative Government that has abandoned all the principles it purported to have before the election. Cameron seems happy to use the LibDems as a ‘shield’ to hide behind whenever he reneges on his promises, blaming them rather than himself – a convenient tactic for a coward. Osbourne showed early promise but has now decided that his position within the Government is more important to him than his principles. My own sitting Conservative MP has shown a (now too common) trait within the Tory party of backtracking on statements or principles that they proudly spoke of BEFORE the election. Never has there been such a blatant case of the tail wagging the dog; in this case, we have a Shih Tzu puppy wagging away like mad, whilst what I believed was a Bulldog just whimpers on the floor. Pathetic.

Seems like Middle England aren’t a fan of helping out those well off when it might affect them. No surprise there really. I just wish and hope that the electorate can see that at a national level the Lib Dems are actually not just propping up a Tory government but actually making a difference. If they do then the death of the party might well have been exaggerated.

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The Perils of being a fan

Every so often here at The Rambles of Neil Monnery we put together a guest blog. This is one of those occasions. My old Journalism SIADian compadre Mr Sean Breslin has composed the following with his feelings on the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra incident. He may well have a semi-regular football piece here on the blog in the near future. I hope you enjoy.

I would see myself as quite a placid, lucid almost intelligent individual but for at least three hours a week (more if my team loses) all those character traits go out of the window. I always thought theory of mellowing with age would be true for me, however it would appear when it comes to football and myself its just bollocks.

The tribal element of football is inbred into my DNA, growing up in a town in the middle of England where Celtic v Rangers means more than anything else hasn’t helped my usually calm disposition. I am not a fan of Scottish football it is more akin to Subbuteo than the beautiful game but I love going to the pub to sing songs or cheer on an ideology and faith that is embodied in a football club. Does this make me and 30 000 other people in the town bad people?

Personally I think not. Sport in its purest form has been and always will be a battle of ideologies and football highights it better than no other. Barcelona (socialist) and Real Madrid (capitalist), Celtic (catholic) and Rangers (protestant) and this season a previously tense but calm rivalry forged through industrial squabbles, Liverpool and Man United has suddenly exploded. I best state here and now I am a Liverpool fan and proud to be one too. Suddenly though to have pride in your club (or maybe just my club) seems to be taboo.

Over the last week’s I have grown frustrated at certain aspects of the whole case and these frustrations go against everything a placid, lucid intelligent person would think. Luis Suarez was wrong in his actions on that fateful October day, indeed Liverpool as a club were wrong on that December night in Wigan when they wore shirts in support of the Uruguayan, and it is with that action the intelligent thinking begins to stop. I defy any fan to honestly say when they saw those t-shirts they didn’t think ‘yes boys! lets get behind him and show the rest what for!’.

The ban commences and form dips, suddenly we are pining for his return. Then the two rivals meet and in the stands, one man’s racist and another man’s culturally misunderstood hero is seen by the whole world celebrating wildly when his team score a late winner. Bang, all intelligence has gone out of the window its now adoration for him, clubs and fans love a controversial hero (the criminally convicted and jailed Eric Cantona, anyone?)

And so to this weekend which started badly for me when I journalist i greatly respect Patrick Barclay, makes references a sickening reference to the Heysel disaster on twitter, I just had a sense this was going to be a shit weekend. The match in which the best team and I would think likely champions won easily was just a sideshow to the panto that has since broken out. Here is where my peril lies, lets put some points reasonable arguments out there. Yes, Suarez was wrong and should have shaken Evra’s hand. Yes, Dalglish was wrong when his now infamous interview didn’t quite go to plan and even Ferguson was right to label Suarez a disgrace. Then today the club, its manager and striker were right to apologise for yesterday’s events.

But football doesn’t always make sense and as a fan despite all the intelligent sensible arguments I find myself angry at those apologies today. Not once throughout the entire story so far did the higher echelons of the club make a statement, so why now? Surely it would have been right to make their feelings known when Luis was found guilty, not when he refuses to shake the hand of someone he claerly has no time for. It just does not make sense.

Why does Dalglish apologise for a bad interview, his counterpart refused to speak to the state broadcaster for several years but found no reason to apologise for that. And then there is Luis, his apology I understand to a point, the point where there has to be a line drawn and now is the time. But as a betting man I will not be putting a fiver on Ferguson apologising to Liverpool for telling them how to deal with their assets, when his sentiments only ratchet the fever up further.

This is the peril of being a fan, despite intelligent arguments, passion and the love of one’s club will win through. But as a personal hero John Barnes said last night on ESPN, ‘there are much more important things going on in this country today, and football teams or players are not the custodians of moral value in this world’. If they were then this country would be a disastrous place.

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The current underlying tension of the Lib Dem Blogosphere *FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT*

In the past few weeks there have been rumblings – and not just from my stomach – as various factions within the Lib Dem blogosphere are starting to emerge. Egos need to be stroked and opinions need to be aired. People are digging their heels in (not a sexist comment) and starting to get snippy (apparently that is a word). Oh yes the Lib Dem blogosphere is not all sweetness and light at the moment. There is no sign of kumbaya around a fire place and no group hugs. So what is causing all the tension?

This I am unsure of but there does seem to be an awful lots of people thinking they are right and that is final going on (but Neil – don’t you always think that you are right – Ed) Well no I don’t. I know I’m wrong rather often. I sprout my worthless opinions willy nilly and then get tutted at. I’m not saying I’m wrong all the time but heck it has been known (all the time – Ed). My editor is such a lovely disembodied voice…

There are well over 200 Lib Dem bloggers out there just on the Lib Dem Blog aggregator. Some more vocal and opinionated than others. That is to be expected. The problem is when people start taking disagreements personally. Just today there seems to have been a bit of a set to with regards to Charlotte Henry’s article Liberal Left – the Labour party in the Lib Dems. Reading it I don’t think she is terribly impressed but hey ho – however her summing up of her piece is shall we say – a tad confrontational:

‘Liberal Left just seems like the desperate last ditch attempts of a group disillusioned activists who are probably in the wrong party. Your Labour membership cards are in the post, comrades.’

Ouch. Bit over the top surely? I know very little about these members and this group but to say that essentially they are in the wrong party is quite a step? The Liberal Democrats – like most political parties – will (and does) have wings. Those that are more left than centre and even those Orange Bookers – which is the biggest buzz word since ‘whasssssssup’ made in into the popular vernacular amongst young people following an advertising campaign in the late 90s.

And do you know what? It is ok to have different opinions within the party. It is ok to have differing opinions all over the place. Whether it be in politics, in the workplace, in the pub, we all have a wide range of different opinions on many things. Why not just engage in some debate and not just dismiss a group and belittle them to such a degree.

My favourite thing about politics is it allows us to have some free speech and engage with people on certain issues. I disagree with a vast vast swathes of Lib Dem bloggers about certain issues. People like Caron Lindsay, Jennie Rigg, Lee Chalmers etc… about whether the party is doing enough to promote women. I believe in equality for all. End. I do not believe in inequality to get to equality. That to me isn’t right but heck we can discuss it and if we still disagree then we disagree. It doesn’t mean I think less of them and I hope it doesn’t mean they think less of me. Zadok Day wrote a piece (with a headline that was always going to rattle a few cages) for Lib Dem Voice today entitled Opinion: Calm Down, Dears!. Many will disagree with him but overall most at least conversed with him and didn’t just call him names or said he wasn’t a liberal.

Blogging – just like politics – is an avenue to air opinions and discuss what is going on around us. Had I been an American no doubt I’d have been all over the debate team like a fat kid on a smartie (one of my former colleagues favourite expressions that). It is meant to tackle the mind and to allow us to see other people’s points of views. If in the end we disagree then we disagree. However to just belittle others because they don’t agree with your point of view is in my opinion just not the way to do it.

Kavya Kaushik wrote this evening We are a Lib Dem Family and it is worth a read. The Lib Dems might not be the most functional of families but like any family it should have respect for all its members whatever their opinions. It is no secret that I don’t get on – and can’t see eye to eye with certain members and their viewpoints but I respect them for having them.

I think what I’m trying to say is that hostile attacks on other factions – or individuals – within the party just doesn’t seem right. Agree/disagree with them whatever but if you don’t have anything nice then don’t say anything at all if you vehemently disagree with them so much. We are all working towards a goal of making this nation a fairer and more open society. Some of us may think the route to get there is a little different but it isn’t how you travel to your destination that is important – it is getting there – and if we all respect one another and engage with one another then the chances of getting there are greatly improved.

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The Argentine War Propaganda Machine rolls on…

So we are coming up to the thirty year anniversary of the Falklands War. Prince Williams is down there for work purposes. The subject is starting to makes noticeable waves in the corridors of power and that is all thanks to the Argentine government. They want the Falklands. They think it is their right to have them. The fact the natives consider themselves British is neither here nor there. They want them (and the big fat oil reserves in the surrounding waters) but tensions are starting to brew.

With the Argentine economy in full-blown crisis the government have decided that they need a diversion to focus the anger on. Over in the UK we have used the bankers and/or the foreigners (great job people of UK – great job) but the Argentines have decided that everything will be all right once they get the islands back so have put on a full court press of the media to whip up some English hatred so they can justify going to war.

The latest way in which the government have done is by renaming the Argentine Football League. The season, which starts on Friday will be known as the Crucero General Belgrano Primera División or if you prefer the English version the Cruiser General Belgrano First Division.

Yep they are renaming the football league after a Argentine naval vessel that was sunk in the Falklands conflict. Certainly nothing in that. I doubt they even knew about the link. I bet it was a complete accident. Next you’ll be telling me the Argentine government own the TV rights and will be showing the league on free-to-air television to maximise the exposure of the newly re branded top division of football in the country *leans in to listen to something his editor has brought to his attention* Oh I see. Scratch that previous sentence. The Argentine government does actually own the rights and plans to broadcast them free-to-air. My mistake.

So yes there we have it. The Argentine government aren’t trying to whip up the country into demanding a war with the UK over the Falklands Islands. Oh no. That would be crazy.

For the piece in The Guardian please follow this link and with a hat-tip to Sean Breslin who pointed this story out to me.

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Sunny Handal wrote ‘Why we need more banker bashing’ – Simple answer. We don’t.

Whilst perusing The Guardian earlier I came across an article entitled Why we need more banker bashing and knew that I’d get annoyed if I read it. So I read it. I got annoyed. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy I really am.

So anyway the link is there for all to see but the long and short of it is this. Banking reform has been pretty weak and shouldn’t we have more say in how these private companies work? We’ll look at banking reform first and the Vickers Report and recommendations are to be carried out with one or two measures watered down. This includes the proposal that the biggest UK banks should have enough capital plus loans that could be converted into cash to cope with losses equal to one fifth of the size of their total balance sheet.

The reason this is not being carried out is for some firms this would be unfair due to their trading outside the UK economy being dwarfed by that inside. For example HSBC is a global giant with it’s revenue inside the UK being but a small part of its global balance sheet.

Late last year I sat down with a very senior banker for an interview where we explored all the issues regarding banking in the UK and around the Globe. The banks have clearly had to change and evolve over the past five years and all of them have far more liquidity now than they did then. The issues of the past were that they didn’t have cash to hand in a crisis. Now they do. Most (if not all) banks are now in a better financial situation today than they were when the banking crisis hit but the credit ratings do not meet up with this as they take into account the public perception and not just the facts.

As fr whether we (you and me and/or the governments of the world) should have more say in how they are run well that’s an interesting question. Did we need more say in them when they were bringing in vast sums of money into the economy or it is only when they screw up do we need to step in? I know not all companies and industries are made equal but do the government need to step into any struggling industry and tell them how to run it? Are the government more or less qualified to know how to run the banking industry than those – you know – in the banking industry?

I doubt that somehow. The Vickers Report will change banking and will put strains on the whole sector in the name of safeguarding taxpayers money. This will be seen by us – the taxpayer – as a good thing and by the banking sector as a very bad thing. However they will plough forward. They will make less money and bring in less money to the economy but should in theory be a safer investment. We’ll see how that goes.

In his summing up Sunny Handal writes the following. ‘Public anger has grown because it is starting to dawn on middle England that while the rest of us are paying for the crisis, the people who caused the crash want to go back to 2007’. This I have to disagree with. The reason public anger has turned on bankers in because the government and the media have decided that they are the scapegoats for this and deserve to be punished. The Daily Mail and other groups blame the foreigners too and they have been the other scapegoated party. The British way is to always find someone to blame for everything and then blame them totally. The banking crisis was a mixture of issues of which the bankers must take some of the blame but not all of it and by repeatedly bashing them all we are doing is undermining them and hindering our chances at recovery.

Here are a few comments from the piece which sum everything up for me as to how the British public have been hoodwinked and deceived by the media and the politicians (looking at you Ed Miliband) to believing that the Bankers are the sole reason we are in these tough times:

It has become obvious in recent years that the bankers are utterly and unapologetically evil.

Britain needs bankers as much as I need a malignant Tumour

Nice article Sunny. Nailed the bastards. And now for the apologists.

What can you do? What can you say? People really think this. Luckily a comment a few down made me think that there are some in this world who actually know enough to form their own opinions:

Haven’t we got bored of this scapegoat already? Sunny’s argument’s about no changes to banks are plain wrong – they are now over-regulated with contradictory rules being brought in by different regimes – and his analysis ignores reality (not least of which how much the government of the 2000s encouraged the build-up of property-based debt).

Whoever you are ‘chaz1’ I like you and no – it wasn’t me.

The bankers and their industry were part of the problem however they are also a huge part of the solution. Just bashing them non-stop won’t change that. If all the bankers got up and left London for foreign shores overnight the economy would nose-dive into a thoroughly deep and prolonged recession. That is just how it is but of course that doesn’t fit in with the rhetoric that the media and Labour are driving. Labour have to take some responsibility for letting the banks go unregulated throughout the boom times but they have washed their hands of this. They say it is all the bankers fault and until we thrash them to within an inch of their lives then not enough has been done.

It is a shame we all need scapegoats and can’t just bo honest with each other and fix the mess without the bad blood. Sadly that would be all too easy and straightforward. It makes me sad that people will use this for political gain – just like everything else…

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Want to give up paying Council Tax? Then become a Special Constable…

Ideas. We all have them. Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. Some of them are indifferent. I once had the idea that you could pay x amount a month and get unlimited access to the internet. Alas I was just 14 and had no capital. Freeserve would beat me to the punch. I had the idea about reviving the Isle of Wight music festival. Alas I was just 16 and had no capital. They are my best two ideas to my knowledge and neither would get acted upon.

However some local Lib Dems have come up with an idea. I think we should have a look at it. In the local rag today there is an article entitled Why special constables could pay no council tax. Certainly worth clicking on as I know a couple of Specials on the beat here in Southend. It turns out it is a Lib Dem idea that the Tory cabinet are indeed going to look at.

he Head of the Lib Dems on the Council Graham Longley is quoted as saying the following, “I am very pleased our initiatives have been listened to and considered.

“This is an ideal way to try to get more people involved in playing a part in society and it would come at no direct cost to the council.”

Later in the piece Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory council leader said: “We have agreed to request a paper on the financial and practical ramifications of offering council tax rebates to special constables.

“I am pleased the Lib Dem group has raised these suggestions.

“Perhaps other groups will follow this lead, which has been sadly missing from all opposition parties over recent years.”

An Essex Police spokesman added: “We look forward to Southend Council contacting us to explore its plan.”


I must say it is a very interesting concept (I know I used interesting twice in close proximity to each other – I’m coming down with Steve Davis disease from the mid 1980s) but it really is. Having more Specials on the beat is important – certainly in a tourist town where these officers can patrol the tourist hot-spots freeing up the regular bobby to do other work. There are always plenty of Specials in the town centre but having patrols along the seafront throughout the summer would be a welcome sight.

The cost of this – and giving that little bit of incentive to people who want to help make their town a nicer and safer place would be small. I have no knowledge of Specials numbers in the town but say if you had 40 Specials who all did 16+ hours a week then the cost would be around £50-60k a year in Council Tax saved. Is that a price worth paying? Quite possibly so.

The Big Society is the calling card of David Cameron but very few people want to give up time for absolutely nothing. If you give them just a small token of your appreciation though then people are far more willing to put in the time and effort. Doing some quick maths based on a Band D property in Southend and basing it on Specials putting in 16 hours a week (two full shifts) then these specials would cost £1.72 p/h. That isn’t the worst price to pay for an extra visual presence of the law on the streets.

It will be interesting to see if the Tory cabinet in Southend adopt these proposals – and it would be interesting to see how much it really would cost – and it would be interesting to see if that shortfall of x amount of Council Tax is made up for in less mone spent fixing anti-social behaviour problems due to a more visual presence on the street and beaches – and it would be interesting to see if I could stop using the word interesting.

Or not.

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