THE last six weeks have been extraordinary if somewhat surreal.
What began as six people in a pub grew and grew – until it went national last Thursday.
This campaign regarding the Shelley College proposals has demonstrated the power of both social media and good old-fashioned journalistic reporting.
Let’s be clear this proposal was flawed – from the outset. It brought the pro-academy, pro-choice argument into disrepute.
The academy debate was started by the Blair government, rolled out by the Brown government and seized upon and developed by Michael Gove without much thinking into any potential down sides.
Eroding people’s choice was a terrible tactic. In this area , attacking six outstanding schools and nine good ones (out of 18) also presented Kirklees Council and the Department of Education with a massive dilemma.
There have though been some fantastic pluses out of this campaign. People developed a sense of community again – instead of all flying round with their busy lives.
They visited these lovely schools and met wonderful teachers – not to mention two outstanding head teachers!
We all met Kirklees councillors and Parish councillors. None of us had met one before or, had even wanted to – previously. We have seen local democracy at work and hundreds of us have turned up at Parish council meetings.
Throughout the campaign, each of us has done different things and met different people and – for my part – I would like to say that the cross party support has been extraordinary.
It was this council, cross party support that helped us to the position we found ourselves last Friday morning.
My own thanks go to Clr Robert Barraclough, Clr Jim Dodds and Clr Graham Turner but, in particular I reserve my gratitude to the Kirklees Leader of the Greens, Clr Andrew Cooper.
His constant support and advice throughout – not-to-mention his string-pulling – has been immense.
POLITICAL commentators and politicians have spent the last few days lambasting the electorate for not turning out to vote in the election of the Police and Crime Commissioners.
I didn’t vote in an election for the first time in 42 years. This is a post that wasn’t needed. The local police authority already had the powers this post now carries.
It was made up of a cross section of society that was interested in law and order from elected local councillors to JPs to the probation service.
Where does a single individual have the expertise the authority had?
The idea that this position has any real power to decide where scarce resources will be used is laughable. The Home Department and the Chief Constable will decide just as they did in the past.
I saw the five winning candidates from the five regional forces on BBC Sunday Politics.
None of them impressed. Whichever party and area they represented as commissioners they all mouthed the same platitudes about listening, local-ism, not accepting privatisation and wariness about further joint ventures.
I’m hopeful that this will be a one off experiment especially as a Labour shadow minister on Friday wouldn’t be drawn by a BBC reporter on the likely Labour policy for 2016 if they are elected in 2015.
However, I did cast a vote in an election that day. A postal vote for a candidate to represent my interests in a pension scheme that I’m a member of.
Along with the ballot paper, to help me make my choice they provided election statements from the candidates and a brief outline of what the successful candidates duties and responsibilities are.
It beggars belief that a private company can go to this expense but our government cannot.
Perhaps these commentators and politicians should turn their fire on the real architects of this shambles – the government who did so little to make the electorate believe that the post carried any power to alter the policing system.
Stop the massacre
WHAT IS happening in Gaza is nothing short of a massacre.
It is four years since the last major assault on Gaza and again, it is happening just before elections in Israel in January.
This cynical and barbaric attack is a war crime and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.
How can this terrible act be seen as an act of self defence? With US and British aid, Israel is armed to the teeth with conventional and illegal nuclear weapons. It has no intention of nnegotiating a peaceful settlement.
Thousands of Israeli troops are amassing on the border for a ground invasion. The situation is very dangerous.
We need to put pressure on our own government to call for an immediate ceasefire.
Huddersfield Stop the War Coalition are calling an emergency protest, Stop the Israeli Attacks on Gaza. Assemble at the Huddersfield Market Cross, today, November 20 from 5pm.
Huddersfield Stop the War Coalition
DAVID Cameron has declared war on Red Tape as part of the campaign to bolster our faltering economy.
So far so good - most of us feel that we are vastly over-regulated. Rather fewer believe in total deregulation, or ‘anarchy’ as it is often called.
The fact is, red tape has a part to play in modern life. Many of us in Kirklees and further afield place our faith in planning law, and the associated appeals process, as a defence against the rapacious development which has done nothing to help the economies of Eire and Spain. I am extremely sceptical that relaxing planning rules has any part to play in economic regeneration.
Much of Cameron and Osborne’s economic strategy appears to centre on 1930s Keynesianism: the idea that a few well-chosen major infrastructure projects will get thousands into work, that these workers will then spend their new-found incomes on goods manufactured in the UK, and that this boost to demand will encourage manufacturers to employ more workers. Thus is a virtuous economic cycle established, and the national economy goes into overdrive. Which is fine if we had a ‘national economy’.
As it is, we import unemployment from eastern Europe, manufactured goods from northern Europe and Asia and food and drink from all and sundry. In return we export welfare benefits and financial services. Not a world which Keynes planned for, and not one which his theories addressed.
In a global, as opposed to national, economy the only way forward is by stimulating tangible (manufactured) exports to destinations beyond the over-regulated and increasingly moribund EU. More exports of manufactured goods mean more employment in factories and lower welfare payments, which then leads into that virtuous cycle which Keynes envisioned. With the possible exception of airport expansion, despoiling green land has little or no part to play in this.
What would help is freeing ourselves from the red tape emanating from Brussels, and keeping the money which now flows to the EU as our subscription to that club within our national economy.