Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Cauliflower Racket -

or some vegetables are more equal than others

By Andrew Wastling


BY way of reply to yesterday's piece Beggars Opera or Comic Opera? - Strangling Civil Liberties on a United Front, I'd like to raise a few points.

I don't doubt for a second that the nauseating culture of palpable nepotism and political cronyism was once again alive and flourishing  at Rochdale Town Hall  :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 ' writes the articles author. I can almost picture it now.  All we are really lacking is a corrupt City Mayor, a few more henchmen in double breasted suits with Fedora hats carrying violin cases ,a couple of high profile payola busts with a snazzy Bix Beiderbecke soundtrack piped into the council chamber. Retro Gangsterism - its the new rock'n'roll  !

Or maybe a more toned down theme more akin perhaps to a scene from Brecht's famous play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (1) portraying as it does the rise of a fictional 1930s Chicago mobster - Arturo Ui - and his attempts to control the cauliflower racket by ruthlessly disposing of the opposition to become chief vegetable gangster. The parallels are sometimes striking .We really should have a copy in the Library at The Ministry of Truth as No1. Riverside is to be shortly renamed.

Whichever is closer to the truth our town hall has of late  become an almost absurdist  theatrical experience where some of the performances  would not be out of place delivered in Al Capone pin stripe suits accompanied by gangsters molls with a mobsters getaway car revving up round the Town Hall - just in case anyone has to do a quick runner!
In this fevered political atmosphere its perhaps not  surprising that bashful Councillor Blundell did not intervene to challenge Councillor Sullivan and Councillor Howards motion to extend Public Space Protection Orders to the gates of local schools. Those  well known haven  for anti-social & criminal elements across the Borough ! Makes no difference , as Woody Guthrie said : ' Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen'.

After all it was only at the beginning of the month that Councillor Blundell was loudly proclaiming across the air-waves of  Key 101 radio station News on 8 March  that unless you were an 'aggressive beggar' you had '  absolutely nothing to fear from PSPO's. The Council 'is not the Gestapo' the Councillor responded slightly nervously . Quite right Councillor and we are here to ensure it never becomes anything close to resembling it. Even  if some members of our council would rather forget it those opposed to PSPO's maintain that :           'the price of Liberty is eternal vigilance.'

councillor speaks to Key103 about plans to stop anti social behaviour in the town centre.

When it was pointed out that the proposal document for Rochdale Council does not use the word aggressive beggar but only beggar in the text I was accused of 'splitting hairs' and promoting 'fake news' .I'll leave it to Councillor Blundel to justify to the Public precisely how a PSPO initially proposed for use against aggressive beggars in the town centre ( in the councillors own words) has transformed itself  less than four weeks down the road into a one size fits all quick fix for a multitude of issues the Council have failed utterly to get to grips with?

At this rate by Palm Sunday we can no doubt look forward to the reintroduction of Prohibition, unlicensed Speakeasy's on The Butts, local Protection Rackets & wholesale counterfeiting & gangsters across the entire Borough. Ah, the joys and pitfalls of turbo charged capitalism combined with a soon to be almost unregulated neoliberal global economy.

Just for the record PSPO's outside schools can in a matter of hours after a chat with a senior Police Officer be transformed by a single council official into a ban on parents holding a 'Save Our School Rally' at the school gates in opposition to future closure plans . Don't say you haven't been warned folks.

Recent Twitter comments from bashful Councillor Blundel hardly instil widespread confidence such as :

's press release on the Rochdale PSPO is not factual, scare mongering and is completely alien to what the council wants to do
( 24 March 2016 )

Or the equally strident if slightly pompous :

Elected local representatives are making this decision. load of London liberal elites looking down their nose at northern towns
( again on 24 March 2016)

Segments of this Twitter feed appear to not only fly in the face of reality but seems to fly directly in the face of Council claims the PSPO proposal was being put out for consultation and not be a decision made by 'elected local representatives' for a start - not to mention fly Icarus style into the truth of the Sun. They are indicative of the kind of juvenile responses some of our local councillors resort to when caught bang to rights with their trousers down by people outside the Rochdale 'bubble', who not only quite obviously know what they are talking about , but are able to run circles round our local 'Alpha-Councillors' with those awfully annoying facts and the even more despised evidence which even our local Rochdale decision makers have to reluctantly number crunch from  time to time. People  who have an in depth understanding of the Law & the Legal System are often problematic for Rochdale Council .Just refer back to the embarrassing public thrashing our council got in the national media from those with a crystal clear understanding  of the Health & Social Care  Sector. Liberty after all have only been advocating on British Law since 1934 so I'm sure we'd all defer to Councillor Blundel's greater breadth of legal working knowledge & experience on the complex intricacies of PSPO's than actual British Lawyers, (2).

It would be illuminating  to know precisely which part of Liberty's PRESS RELEASE is not factual, scaremongering so we can all reset our thought processes from 'thought crime' to acceptable Council approved cognitive dissonance immediately ?

Perhaps Councillor Blundell can clarify for us lowly proles how we should think sometime soon . So none of us get ideas above our station or get into the annoyingly bad habit of asking tricky questions of our betters?

(1). The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui or That Well-Known Racket .The scenario that Brecht presents is recognisably possible at other times, past, present and future. He points to a time of recession: people are suffering increasing hardship in deteriorating circumstances. Crime is on the increase, unemployment soars, street violence erupts. An enemy is at work, the people are told; a scapegoat is sought and hounded, while the well-off, anxious to preserve their position, join in the hunt or merely look the other way. Under similar circumstances Chicago produced Al Capone, and Germany produced Hitler, who rose to power on the backs of the wealthy establishment, which thought it could both control and use him, but which was blinkered by its fear of the "enemy within"

(2). Liberty is also known as the National Council for Civil Liberties. Founded in 1934, they  are a cross party, non-party membership organisation at the heart of the movement for fundamental rights and freedoms in the UK.
They promote the values of individual human dignity, equal treatment and fairness as the foundations of a democratic society.
Liberty is entirely independent. They're  not affiliated with any political party and they receive no Government funding – which means they're free to fearlessly and robustly criticise Government policy and truly hold the powerful to account. They  promote the values of equality, dignity, fairness and accountability in all that they do. 

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