Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt


YOU would not think it now, but I was a very trusting child. I believed my parents when they told me you could always trust a British bobby.

I even believed my first headmaster when he told us, at the time of the 1961 census, that its secrecy was so complete that one could put down one's occupation as "burglar" without any fear of retribution.

Scroll on to 2014 and it seems that you can report as many thefts as you like without anyone lifting a finger, though the European Union presumably marks them down as further evidence of burgeoning economic activity, justifying another whacking increase in its membership fees.

After all, it has just slapped in a PS1.7bn demand that seems to be largely based on previous underrecording of such vibrantly healthy UK economic sectors as tobacco smuggling, prostitution and drugs. By which I guess they mean the sort favoured by that "crystal Methodist" banker rather than my own statins and low dose aspirins.

Maybe this is the sort of British success story George Osborne has in mind when he bangs on about his "Northern powerhouse", led by a directly-elected mayor. You remember, the sort that the people of Manchester (and many other places) rejected in a referendum only two years ago but are now apparently going to have anyway, whether they like it or not. Among his or her many other useful functions this new mayor will take over the role of the police and crime commissioner that a handful of people bothered to vote into office a few months later.

It all seems eerily reminiscent of voting ten years ago against both a North East assembly and a unitary authority for the whole of Northumberland. One of which has already been imposed upon us while the other is clearly trundling down the tracks once again, thinly concealed by more waffle about "city regions".

Really, what is the point of voting for anything at all when no notice is taken of the outcome? How would it go down if I adopted the sort of approach to the Government that it takes with me? Maybe sending my tax demand back with an offer to pay a token amount because it's all I can afford (which has the virtue of being true). …

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