Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Beggar's Opera* Or Comic Opera?

Strangling Civil Liberties on a United Front
by Brian Bamford
Tonight, at Rochdale Town Hall's Full Council meeting of the Rochdale Town Council, it was more like watching a stage show of Bertold Brecht's 'Threpenny Opera' than serious politics.  It was like viewing a tribe of back-patting gangsters as both the Tory and Labour politicians vied with each other to heap on the praise.  Talk about cosy council politics!

Councillor Liam O'Rourke even pontificated on how often the local Tories would join up with the governing Labour lads and lassies to proclaim and pass proposals and present a united front, no matter the perverse political origins of the proposals.  At one stage we were left wondering if the bashful Councillor Blundell was having an affair with one of the Tory lassies, so intimate was their demeanour.

There is much of the tragi-comedy about politics in Rochdale these days, which even in its own petty way rivals Brexit and Trump on the stage of national and international politics.

A major asbestos scandal has dogged the town for decades, the site of the former asbestos factory is now fast becoming a dump for waste which is being fly-tipped on an industrial scale; buildings surrounding the town centre neglected for decades are now cracking and disintegrating to such an extent that recently the trams to the town centre had to be stopped and buses diverted; travelling people now threaten Cronkeyshaw Common; market traders disappointed with the poorness of their trade in groceries have formed a co-op and are threatening to leave the town and now the Greater Manchester Spatial Strategy threatening the Green Belt around Rochdale.

But recently, it has been the proposals for issuing Public Space Protection Orders with on-the-spot penalties that has been causing consternation.  And this seems to be where the Tories and labour parties are uniting most.  Tonight, Councillor Sullivan and Councillor Howard moved and seconded a motion for extending the imposition of Protection Orders to the proximity of schools.  The motion stated:
'This Council welcomes the future consultation on potential use of Public Space Protection Orders in the Town Centre and recommends the introduction of similar Orders to enhance road safety outside schools.  As a Council we are committed to protecting the safety and welfare of the Borough's children, which is often put at risk by irresponsible parking outside schools.  The Council calls upon the Cabinet to develop proposals to trail Public Space Protection Orders around schools with known parking problems to tackle the associated risk to children, parents and carers; and following a period of monitoring to establish the success of this intuitive, the Council should explore options to roll out a programme of Protection Orders around schools.'
What this means is that extra unnecessary laws will be brought in by the law-makers of Rochdale to duplicate laws that already exists.  Natural justice, it seems, will now be binned in Rochdale!
What began with a Labour Party campaign to clean-up Rochdale Town Centre of beggars and other  'wrong-uns' , is now moving relentlessly on to a campaign against improper parking around school yards.  To get support for the motion one councilor last night even invoked images of car-keys being snatched by an angry schoolmaster trying to restore order and cat-fights by parents outside the school gate over parking spaces as mothers hung up their handbags to freely sally-forth in a fiery frenzy claiming the right of place to a space nearest to the school gates.
Bring on the 'On-the-Spot' Fines for Rochdale's disabled beggars and down and outs! 
Let's have more 'Public Space Protection Orders' against irate parents who park badly! 
The good Councillor Jane Howard, the Shadow Portfolio Holder for Adult Care and seconder of the motion relating to good order at School Gates, even whinged last night about not just swearing, but about one councilor actually 'blaspheming in this Council Chamber' she said, as had happened at the last full council meeting. 
With such examples of innate wickedness, the good councilors of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale couldn't vote the motion through quick enough!  The band-wagon to corral the public is underway!  Bring on the Zoo-Keepers!

*  The Beggar's Opera is the story satirised politics, poverty and injustice, focusing on the theme of corruption at all levels of society. Lavinia Fenton, the first Polly Peachum, became an overnight success. Her pictures were in great demand, verses were written to her and books published about her..   Elisabeth Hauptmann (with Bertolt Brecht) and Kurt Weill adapted the opera into Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) in 1928, sticking closely to the original plot and characters but with a new libretto and mostly new music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All for cleaning up Rochdale!

Can we start with cleaning up local politics. It'll be a filthy job but we can wear protective suits, long handled brushes and industrial qualities of bleach ?

We can also use a local(ish) ready-made well paid publicly funded labour force of 60 councillors to litter pick every weekend.

Some of them it's true may require additional motivation training but the war on Fly-tippers can be won. Lets hope this 'community payback' scheme can be extended to our dedicated 'Alpha-Councillors' cleaning up the mouldering Asbestos site at Turner Brothers - I'm sure we can provide them with the necessary protective equipment and the best quality Health & Safety monitoring - unlike the protection deployed to meet local residents legitimate concerns over the past four decades or more. Though we might have to give them copies of an A-Z Street Map since so many of them appear to have forgotten it even exists ?

Looking forward immensely to live proceedings in the Council Chamber being broadcast down the web to the local populace. With judicious use of a clever marketing company the show could be successfully promoted as a pre-watershed comedy.

Councillors could raise much needed revenue by subtle use of product placement. Munch sandwiches at key point in proceeding whilst wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Buffet Company's brand name on. Perhaps a few subtle logos from Kingsway Business Park could be hung from the rafters along with '...and here's a word from our sponsors'...segments every fifteen minutes or so to promote all those successful private providers of public services we must thank previous generations of councillors for endorsing and bailing out with our public money.

All that would be required is a good Director - Francis Ford Coppola would have been the obvious choice. Although the Ministry of Propaganda would no doubt be able to provide a suitable alternative ?

Subliminal happiness mantras could be played to convince the audience they are getting at least some value money and not witnessing a daylight robbery crime show.
whilst the end of proceedings could be marked with a rousing communal sing along of
'We're in the Money' and everybody's happy !