NOVEMBER is the month of revolution; a time for reminding the Powers That Be that they are only the Powers That Be because we, the great British public, tolerate it. And that at any time they could suddenly find themselves the Powers That Were.
As well as our own history of gunpowder plotting, this month also marks Independence Day in Angola (11), Latvia (18) and Albania (28) amongst many others. (It is also National Cake Day (26) in the USA. Make of that what you will.)
So with the whiff of cordite up our national nostrils, this seems to be an appropriate time to ask the simple question: Why are our politicians almost completely crap?
I try to stay away from politics in these pages, although I’m more likely to suffer a snub at a cocktail party than a stretch on the rack, but there’s no way around it. Most of them are bunch of amateurish, self-promoting, self-interested dullards who would struggle to even get a job in the real world. That’s probably why they went into politics straight from university in the first place.
At national level both main parties appear to be auditioning for the role of driving the clown car at the circus. The doors fall off, custard pies are thrown and ministers get buckets of water tipped down their pants on a daily basis. Meanwhile the PM does a little dance while her party disintegrates and the nation heads for... well, what? The cliff edge or the sunlit uplands? Nobody knows.
The opposition is no better. Given a golden opportunity to take a clear stance and show a united front, they instead descend into the factional infighting that has dogged them for decades. The only thing they seem to agree on is that something must be done about the nasty media (and they will try, oh yes, they will try). And while that nice Mr Corbyn might be busy making jam and tending his courgettes on his allotment while repeatedly stepping on garden rakes, the satanic Mcdonnell is busy sharpening his ice pick in the potting shed.
So let’s look locally, where the decisions of our elected members matter. The caveat must be that these people are not professional politicians and are giving up their own time to serve their community. But still...
The trial closure of Boots Corner in Cheltenham is a prime example of the cloth-eared arrogance of local councillors. Intended to make the centre of town a more attractive shopping environment, it has caused traffic chaos in surrounding areas, increased pollution caused by nose-to-tail jams, led to thousands of drivers being fined and has had a disastrous effect on nearby traders. The ‘hot tub’ planter, part of the much-vaunted new street furniture has become a litter bin for night time revellers and the decision not to offer drivers a diversion but to “allow them to find their own routes” would be funny if it wasn’t true. We’re talking confused, sat-nav fixated car drivers here, folks, not herds of wildebeest crossing the African plains.
Stroud District Council is another authority guilty of circling the wagons against any criticism. After commissioning a report into car parking in Nailsworth, Dursley and Wotton (the cost of which conveniently fell just short of the £10,000 threshold requiring public debate and approval) the results were rigged to make the case for charging where parking was previously free. (Rigged, you say? That’s rather strong. Well despite claims that the survey was done on “quiet” days, a count was carried out in Nailsworth on a Saturday when 2,000 people had turned up to watch Forest Green Rovers play at home. That qualifies as “rigged” to me.) The plan was only dropped in the face of widespread opposition from worried traders and the public.
Now the people of Stonehouse and Painswick are quite rightly asking for their charges to be dropped.
Just two examples of council cock-ups where the needs of the local community are ignored in pursuit of some unrealistic and unthinking greater plan. Meanwhile what are they doing to help us prepare for the consequences of Brexit? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
So are we being served? I’m not so sure.
The ‘hot tub’ planter - pic courtesy of L’artisan Cheltenham