Last week, Pecksniff reported that the mayor of Bury St Edmunds had been involved in fisticuffs with a bouncer in a nightclub.
Then on Wednesday this week EAB explained the full details in an exclusive. The main theme of the story is of course the clownish buffoonery of the mayor in bleating that he was far too important to be arrested. Now it turns out he was wrong about that, but he was right to assume his position would give him privilege.
A senior police officer declared that the incident was one of “violent assault”. For which, apparently – at least if you are a district and county councillor, and also the mayor – the penalty is merely a conditional discharge and to be asked to attend a kindly talk on the perils of alcohol.
Really? And if instead he had been a young tearaway from the Prior estate?
When the whole basis of civilised society is equality before the law, the public has not only a right but a duty to demand to know why – and there is no other way of putting this – there is one law for them and another for everybody else.
This has not been a good week for Suffolk Police. In addition to the apparently spineless failure to punish somebody assumed to be of influence (above), East Anglia Bylines has another dismal story to tell.
Recently, we have reported on disturbing investigations we have carried out into the activities of conspiracist groups and the far right. Social media carries alarming and threatening claims. We have unearthed it, and we wanted to be sure the police know what we know. But we are none the wiser. A colleague spent a timed half an hour online, or in a ‘chat’ with an agent, or being put through from traffic offences (don’t ask) to god knows where: we waited for 10 minutes, but nobody answered the phone. (“We know you are wait-ing…”)
Half an hour spent trying to pass on news of possible violent insurrection, and nobody is interested.
So, in a dudgeon, East Anglia Bylines called the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner. Operational issues aren’t their concern, of course, but the idea was to report that his police officers weren’t answering the phone.
Only nobody at the PCC was answering the phone either. Nor have they called back. So East Anglia Bylines may have important information about planned civil unrest, but the entire police force is washing its hair.
It is unusual for Pecksniff to quote the New York Times, but then it is unusual for such a prestigious foreign newspaper to understand and put Britain’s plight so succinctly.
But of course, criticism even from the US these days has no effect on a party which is bent on self-immolation and is determined to take the country with it.
Britain is poorer. Just accept it. That is the message from the Bank of England’s chief economist.
Just accept it. This gentleman does not want you to blame the catastrophic misjudgement of politicians, their blinkered ideology or their corruption in siphoning off billions in public money for themselves and their friends. Just accept it. The ruling elite are telling us publicly now that they accept no responsibility for their bankrupting the country. Just accept it.
The same people or their sycophants are shamelessly telling us the same thing from within local government. But next week you don’t have to just accept it. There is something you can do.
Vote them out, every one. Even good old Tory Bob who has served the community well by his own lights these past years. Nothing works, and it’s Bob’s fault. Be ruthless. Vote him out.
James Cleverly (Braintree) and our foreign secretary has been causing something of a stir.
Mr Cleverly’s inspiration actually to listen to people who know what they are talking about represents a radical departure for government ministers in any department, but particularly the Foreign Office. He has received grudging praise from the diplomatic corps. A senior source tells Pecksniff: “It’s extraordinary that we should be welcoming the news that the foreign secretary has learned to listen to diplomats. But this is a significant step forward from his recent predecessors, so even if he’s come to it a little late, let’s not be churlish about it.”
Steve Barclay (NE Cambs) often wears the blank look of a player in an end-of-the-pier show who has forgotten his lines.
But he isn’t quite so harmless. It seems he is yet another bully. Certainly there were alarmed noises from the Department of Health soon after he was appointed in July last year – not only because of his manner and his interfering, but also about his competence. The complaints precede the investigation into the behaviour of Dominic Raab and which brought his recent resignation.
In the last few days of campaigning for the local elections, it is clear that something that looks a little like a progressive alliance is happening, though it is not always what it seems. It can be convenient not to put up a candidate if you don’t have either the organisation or members to do so anyway. And even if you can run to declaring a paper candidate at least, that saves pretending that you have people to deliver leaflets and canvass when you only have half a dozen helpers available.
But whatever the reason, parties are willingly or by force of circumstance acting on what looks like an alliance, or at least an understanding of sorts. Sometimes an understanding can be an unspoken agreement; sometimes more collegiate. (The Greens and the Liberal Democrats in Mid Suffolk seem an honourable example of the latter.) Pecksniff has seen a gracious letter from one candidate to a rival from another party, admitting the writer’s own candidacy is on paper only and wishing her good luck.
None of this would be welcomed by the party hierarchies, of course, though even they would accept the move to at least grudging co-operation is inevitable.
The crucial question of course concerns the mood of the Tory voter. The picture seems the same across the region. There is some disappointment that so few are crossing to the other side, though there is always something of the evangelist in every canvasser.
But there seems little doubt about the collapse of Tory support, at least as reported by your diarist’s spies. It is doubtful whether they will turn out at all. They are reported from all over the region to be disillusioned and furious with the current party. Ironically, the hapless reason often given to explain their determination not to vote is they don’t have suitable identification. So it seems the legislation introduced to try to deter the opposition’s voters is instead providing the excuse to keep the Tories’ own voters at home.
Meanwhile and as has been widely reported, the Tories in Norwich are telling blatant lies about the new voting procedure. They are spreading confusion among the Norwich electorate because they hold not a single seat on the council, nor have done for years. So, they presumably feel that causing general chaos can’t hurt them.
The local party claims this was an “error” and was taken (in some unexplained way) from literature circulated by Tory HQ. But Pecksniff has spent weeks reviewing party literature from all over the region – the Muckrakers has been one’s only sanctuary – and this particular attempt to mislead the public has appeared nowhere else. So it looks as though the lies have been concocted in Norwich specifically to mislead Norwich voters. The good citizens of that fair city might wish to remember that come the next general election.
Of course, traditional Toryism has always seen protecting the status quo as being entirely proper and responsible, while anything likely to disturb it is the action of dangerous revolutionaries. You may not be surprised, dear reader, to learn that this attitude is still alive and well.
We hear of an impassioned article written for the parish magazine in Easton, in east Suffolk. The article concerned the polluted state of the river Deben which runs through the village. But the article was edited to take out the plea for local people to contact their MP, Dan Poulter. This was considered “too political”.
But a couple of pages further on, the magazine included a double page spread written by Dan Poulter.
Readers may notice a dearth of tales in recent diaries of those scamps, our MPs, up there in Westminster. This is because they have been unaccountably silent. (Even Tom Hunt of Ipswich, who has said not a word about refugees since East Anglia Bylines revealed that many of the anti-refugee protestors he was defending turned out to be hardcore nazis.)
The raucous idiot’s chorus which normally invades your diarist’s attempts at elegant discourse has been stilled. There are two possible reasons. Either panic in the Commons tea rooms or the instructions of the whips have made clear that every mindless attempt at rodomontade loses them a couple of Tesco’s-worth of voters.
Or, their colleagues in local government have impressed savagely upon them that prospects in next week’s council elections are already bad enough without them trampling all over them.
We should mention one MP however: Liz Truss (SW Norfolk). You will recall that, with the solemnity she might use in repeating her wedding vows (no chortling at the back please), she re-pledged her unalloyed priority to be the interests of her constituency. Since then, you will already have guessed, dear reader, her voters have seen not a sign of her.
Though Tom Hunt has kept shtum, those anti-refugee groups he defended haven’t – which is a bit of an embarrassment. Here we have an example from a chat room called The Grey Area, in which one of that group (who makes a point of mentioning Ipswich) goes on to include pictures of Hitler and says they must “finish the work of our glorious ancestors”.
Evelyn Waugh once wrote something profound about how every Englishman knows that, at every moment of day or night, somebody somewhere is trying to stop him getting a drink. This observation was brought up by the wise men at the Muckrakers this week, wondering whether the election counts – which go on for hours, my dears, simply hours – are alcohol-free. But nobody seems to know, not even the candidates or, even more surprising, the wizened political hacks draped around the East Anglia Bylines news room. Bizarre! Surely one would notice whether there is a bar or not? Who are these people we’re electing to represent us?
One Labour observer admits: “Always been a permanent disappointment to me. I can’t pretend I’ve never had some dutch courage in a pub beforehand to get me through spending an evening with the Tories”, but that is hardly the point.
From this weekend, EAB will reprise our live local elections blog that proved so popular last year. Throughout every day, every whisper of gossip or hint of news, unsubstantiated rumour, meaningless morsel of trivia or ludicrous party claim will find its way into the blog, and as well as Pecksniff’s spies, there will be inputs from most of our team of political writers – licensing hours permitting.
They will include Stephen ‘Numbers’ McNair, Anna ‘Don’t Give A’ Damski, Essex editor Jenny ‘Follow the Yellow Brick’ Rhodes, Norfolk editor Elana ‘Kitty’ Katz, Aidan ‘On yer bike’ Baker, Cambs editor Cameron ‘Just Married’ Holloway, Sarah ‘Pitter’ Patey, Peter Thurlow (for whom no silly name has yet been allocated) [We’re working on it. -Ed.] and, of course, your humble servant.
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