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The people want to bring down the regime!

August 9, 2011

2011 has been a remarkable year so far and it’s not over yet.

The Middle East has experienced what is being called “The Arab Spring”. Normal people in states that often do not have such public displays have taken to the streets in protest against often corrupt and authoritarian regimes. In Egypt President Mubarek has been arrested and is on trial caged and on a stretcher in Cairo for corruption and ordering the armed forces to shoot on members of the public – it looks like Joe Public is suddenly growing up and saying “No – that is not good enough” and demanding more, demanding that they are given the freedoms they are becoming aware of as the world is brought into their living room curtesy of the internet. Using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter the protests have spread.

Here in the UK we have seen the public in utter disgust at the hacking of murdered teenagers mobile phone and those of the relatives of the 7/7 victims. The Murdoch empire, News International is at the centre of this storm and it looks like more is to come as the involvement of senior politicians with executives from this media organisation become apparent. It looks like this is going right to the top of our Government with the Prime Minister having to answer questions about his appointment of an ex-News Of The World editor. It also appears it wont stop there as other newspapers have been up to no good too.

But you might say – this blog is about local issues – what are you on about?

Well quite a few people are calling for our own local Government to come under proper scrutiny. For an independent body to investigate such things as the Sugdens Mill debacle, The Sita waste contract and the claimed £6m that the taxpayer has paid more than necessary for collecting waste. For an investigation into the Northgate House plans and what involvement council officers have had in attracting proposals from Gregory group, the Milner Royd Allotments poisoned veg and also into The Sowerby Bridge/Copley Valley Scheme and the way officers have worked to make the case for the planning committee to grant the application and why a Councillor should say she feel she is being blackmailed.

We now know that planning officers requested from the Sowerby Bridge Community Forum a letter that was actually sent to the Courier and claimed this was a letter of support for the Copley Valley planning application, even though it was not addressed to CMBC and was not even signed. The group who the letter was sourced from was itself set up by regeneration officers and each time I have been has had a planning officer attending! Some of the members of the group were very concerned that this letter was sent in their name at all, seeing as they have never been allowed a vote for or against the Sowerby Bridge/Copley Valley Scheme.

It may not be during 2011 but I hope that we in Calderdale get our version of the Arab Spring, that the bright searchlight of truth is shone into the murky recesses of Calderdale MBC. I really do believe that the coalition of Lib Dem and Labour have made steps in the right direction in making local Government more accesible and more transparent, particularly with the way questions can be asked at cabinet (though I suspect they might have regretted that step when The Copley Village/Valley Environment Protection Communty Action Group have so regularly turned up and made use of the opportunity). The problem seems to be with the council officers who play not by the Councillors rules but by their own.

If  all is honest, open and transparent then good – if as many suspect there is something to hide then bring it to the surface and let the taxpayer know just what has been going on.  In the same way that those who are commiting crimes against the public elsewhere I hope any officer or member found to be supping with the devil – past or present should be called to account for themselves and be held responsible.

Obviously we are not in the same dire position as those in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrian, Syria etc but what we share with those brave souls is a desire for truth, open and honest government.

A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world has been Ash-sha`b yurid isqat an-nizam (“The people want to bring down the regime”)

Caution – comment about something not to do specifically with Calderdale.

I started writing this before the events of the last few days and the riots that are affecting our country. What I am calling for here is not what is happening in London, Liverpool, Birmingham etc. The people doing these criminal acts are not, in my opinion doing it for any real reason. Not because they have no job and wish to protest, not because they are concerned about the cuts. I think they are doing this just because they think they can get away with it. They attend because they hear basically that there is a party going on and they want to be part of it. The thieving and arson is criminal and should be treated as such – thanfully it looks like it will be.

Now having said that I hope The Prime Minister is starting to realise that the cuts he and his Government are intent on making will affect the number of policeman available for emergency situations such as this. The quoted figues of 6000 policemen on the streets of London one night and 16000 the next are impressive and are no doubt needed – if we cut the number of officers available to be mobilised then we risk the chance of situations like this being completley out of control.

Lastly, speaking of out of control – I hope the irony of the Cameron and Johnson party trying to give the impression of controlling this situation when whilst at University and in The Bullingdon Club their “high jinks” alledgedly included smashing a window and setting fire to the toilets, is not lost on anybody. True or not – they are still upper class rich twits who belonged to a gang even though they called it a club!

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From → cbmc, politics

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