Falling Crime: Pick any reason you like

Crime has fallen by 10% in the last year.  Great news.  Rejoice.  Hang out the bunting.  The tragedy is – nobody seems to have a clue as to exactly why this is happening especially given that everybody was suggesting that austerity would see a rise in crime.

Various theories have been put forward. Take your pick from any one of the following, as it seems your guess will be just as good as the experts’:-

1/ The reduction of lead in petrol – because lead in petrol in the atmosphere affects the brain. Lead has been reduced in petrol but you can still find a lot of lead in certain places decomposing slowly in the atmosphere – stained glass windows in churches, fishing sinkers, pewter mugs – which might be an argument to avoid vicars, fish and battle re-enactment societies.

2/ The much bigger size of consumer goods such as plasma televisions – although that didn’t stop people making a beeline for Currys during the riots. And it’s not like old televisions were easy to carry – yes they were smaller but they were much bulkier and weighed a ton. At least with plasma TVs you can chuck a curtain over it, put on a dodgy Breton cap and pretend you are some arts student carrying a portfolio.

3/ The cheapness of goods now means it is hardly worth nicking them. Things are certainly very competitive on the high street – one Poundland store in the West Midlands had to have a cut-price sale because they were apparently being undercut by the 99p shop nextdoor. We may yet see the arrival of 95pLand, 50pStretcher and SpareChangeWorld

4/ The increase in home computer games gives young males an alternative outlet. Of course, violent computer games used to be blamed for creating more violence. Now it seems they could be leading to less violence. I never really subscribed to the idea that DVD nasties created copycat violence. There are lots of powerful films out there. If DVD nasties led to copycat behaviour, why shouldn’t other films? Given some of the latest DVD releases, how come people aren’t drinking champagne wearing 1920s spats whilst dancing the Charleston with flappers, or attempting to crash a spaceship into San Francisco, or taking a tiger for a ride on a boat?

5/ There are more unemployed people at home and there are, therefore, less empty houses to break into.  If you’re angry and disenfranchised the last thing you want to do is to break into a house which contains somebody else who’s as angry and disenfranchised as you are. Besides, you’d better stay home yourself, just in case they break into yours.

6/ Austerity itself. Nobody has anything worth nicking anymore, so if you did break in you’d only find stuff that was probably worth a quid – or perhaps 95 pence.

7/ And my favourite theory – easy access to hardcore porn. Marx said that religion was the opium of the masses. No longer it seems. Debbie Does Dallas may be the opium of the masses.  And Ron Jeremy is their Pope. All hail the internet!

Given that our crime policies for years have supposedly been based on what works it’s a tragedy to find out that nobody is really sure what does work.  The argument that prison works is now being countered by the fact that crime is falling in those places with a small prison population [Netherlands, Germany] as well as those with a high prison population [U.S., U.K.]. If you can reduce drug addiction by treatment rather than punishment we should do so, especially given that a night in prison is often quoted as being as expensive as a night in the Ritz, and for a night in the Ritz we should be able to afford some pretty good treatment.

The question arises is this fall in crime real? Yes. These figures are from the Crime Survey of England & Wales 2013 not the Police’s own figures which have recently been downgraded by the UK Statistics Authority as suitable only to be filed somewhere between Historical Fiction and Fantasy. The Police’s figures have fallen even more that the Crime Survey figures, the theory being that individual Forces have been massaging figures to show they are winning the battle against crime.  The ironic thing is that Police numbers are being cut across the UK and the Police said this would lead to an increase in crime. With a now established decrease in crime, that’s a bit embarrassing for the Police. The best interpretation is that police numbers have little effect on crime – the worst interpretation, is that the police were causing a lot of the crime.


Don’t like where you live? It could be much worse…

There have been many recent examples of ‘Neighbours from Hell’.

Pervert dangled mirror and smartphone outside naked neighbour’s bedroom window and took over 100 pictures of her…

Naked sunbather neighbour from hell jailed for repeatedly exposing himself in his garden…

Banker couple waged war on neighbour over 12 inches of land in Kent village…

Of course, you can pick your accommodation – you can’t pick your neighbours. Sometimes after you’ve found a place you like – it would be quite nice if you could interview the neighbours to see if you like them as well. But it might not be that constructive. Because often when people have found out they are living nextdoor to some of our worst criminals, it takes them completely by surprise. It seems to me one way to cut crime further in this country would be for the Police to ask neighbours what they think of the people nextdoor and if they think they are “lovely”, “wouldn’t hurt a fly”, “last person we’d have thought would commit any misdemeanour whatsoever” – then the Police should keep a very close eye on them.

I’ve had some shocking neighbours.  I had one flat where I had one woman from downstairs knock on my door because she’d just been punched by her boyfriend – who turned out was also her pimp and I was actually living above a part-time brothel which I had been completely unaware of. So I had a prostitute in my flat and an angry pimp downstairs looking for his girlfriend. We phoned the Police. They arrived. I moved out. I didn’t want the pimp punching me, and me then calling the Police and them turning up and questioning me. “Oh – he punched you? So have you started working for him as well?”.

I had one flat where there was a bloke in the flat above me who used to bring women back to his flat late at night and he’d try and impress them by playing his piano at 1am in the morning. And if it was occasional and he got a bit of action you wouldn’t necessarily mind – but it never worked – they always hated his piano-playing and after about 15 minutes each time you’d hear the woman stomping down the staircase – and then, about five minutes later, him watching porn.  I moved out.

I lived in a house which was lovely until the landlord nextdoor converted his house into bedsits for 12 juvenile delinquents. I only found this out when I came home and found one of them lying on my car trying to impress one of the new female delinquents by pretending that it was his car. Not an easy situation to find oneself in – because you don’t want to tell them to fuck off and then come back the next day and find your car keyed all down one side. So I said “Alright if I borrow this one for this evening?” – and he said “Fine!” and got off. But I moved out.

But all this compares to nothing – for the worst place I lived. I was in a bedsit myself for 6 months and I went for a shower in the communal bathroom one morning to find a turd in the shower.  Not what you need in the morning.  Who does a turd in the shower?  There was a toilet next door.  But even if you had terrible cramps, and a sudden gastric outburst whilst having a shower – who would leave the turd there? I mean – sometimes in bedsits you have to leave notes – “please don’t drink my milk” – “don’t eat all my bread” – but you don’t expect to have to leave a note “please don’t poo in the shower”.  It’s like you wouldn’t expect to have to leave signs “please don’t vomit in the oven” – or “I’m sorry your pet hamster died, but please don’t leave it in the freezer”. There was nine of us in these bedsits and we all had our suspicions as to who it was. Trouble was I suspected 6 of them – so I moved out.

But there was no respite from excrement. At the next place, it was the nextdoor’s cat. It seemed to have a penchant for pooing everywhere around my house.  The nextdoor neighbour told me that it was fine – “It was just marking its territory”.  But I pointed out that it was not its territory – it was my territory. I shouldn’t have to have a poo in my own garden to keep the cats out.  If their cat was coming into my garden for a poo, I should be able to nip into their kitchen and have a poo in it’s cat-tray.

But given that I have had to move out of so many places, it poses the question about how good a neighbour am I? So I have compiled a handy guide to working out how community-minded you are.

1/ Your area is flooding. Do you a/ share out sandbags equally between everyone?, or b/ dig a trench at the bottom of your garden so as the flooding bypasses your property and goes on to your neighbours’?

2/  A ball lands in your garden. Do you a/ throw it back where you think it came from?, or b/ throw it in the other direction so as it’s unlikely to trouble you again?

3/  Your recycling box has gone missing from the front of your property. Do you a/ order a new one from the council?, or b/ nick your neighbours and write your house number on it, thus making it look like its yours?

4/  You want to use the internet. Do you a/ order broadband from a recognised supplier?, or b/ spend an evening trying to crack your neighbour’s wifi password?

5/  A small child is crying in the nextdoor property. Do you a/ do nothing, sympathising that bringing up a small child is difficult in the best of circumstances? Or b/ bang hard on the wall going “Shut the fuck up”

You may wonder how I came up with some of the b/ scenarios in this guide. Imagination. Honest.

I Hope I Die Before I Get Ill

We’re living longer. Care costs are going up. One in three people over 65 will die with dementia. I’m all up for ending it as the faculties start to fade – sign me up for a bit of Dignitas at the end. The worry is if you do get dementia, that you forget you ever wanted to end it all in the first place.

They’ve actually released a 15-minute DIY questionnaire where you can attempt to work out  whether you have got dementia or not. I’d do it every day just to check. If you couldn’t remember the right answers from the day before, that would be a clue in itself. Questions include  ‘What is today’s date?” – ok – “Name 12 animals” – yes, fine – then next question “How are a hammer and a corkscrew similar?” – trickier, isn’t it? – it is to test your mental agility – the only answer I came up with was ‘I’ve used both of them to try and open a bottle of wine’. If that’s your answer, maybe dementia is the least of your worries.

You certainly don’t want to be the last of your generation to go. I never want to hear myself saying “It’ll be me next” – unless I’m feeling particularly talkative at the delicatessen counter or the queue at Argos. One of the reasons for the shortage of homes in the UK is because more old people are living on their own – lots of new couples can’t afford a place, lots of old people lonely by themselves.  Surely the best idea is to get the couples to move in with the old people – instead of the granny flat – have a couple flat in the granny house. The granny gets company and the couple get a flat – and a granny.

Because, on the face of it, retirement looks great. Old people have all the time in the world. It’s a tragedy then that you sleep less as you get older.  When you’re working, you’re trying to make do with not enough sleep. You retire and you think I’m going to sleep for a very long time. And then you can’t get to sleep or you wake up early – and you think “This is nonsense I’ve got sod all to do.” But you can’t sleep so you think “Well, I may as well get up and do something” – so you go out, and do something, and just as it’s about to get exciting, you nod off.

Life is a never-ending compromise between time, money and physical capacity. When you’re young you tend to have time and be fit but you’ve got no money. When you’re middle-aged – you’re a bit less fit, you’ve got some money, but no time. You get old – you tend to have time and money but you’re fucked. Maybe everybody should have a student loan aged 18 – then for at least three years you can be young, have money and do sod all.

Old people worry because they start doing stupid shit – but often they are doing stupid shit not because they are old – but because they are human. At Christmas, I put a large turkey in the oven to start roasting at 6am in the morning. I misread the instructions, confused the start and end-times, and was woken up by the oven alarm going off at 6am to reveal a perfectly cooked roast turkey ready to be eaten. Two weeks ago, I was with a friend in a bar and we were having a few drinks and she couldn’t find her credit card so she went up to the bar and got them to cancel the card for her – only for it to turn out she’d actually put the card behind the bar to pay for the drinks.

Getting old is tough. I love those people who fight the years not by plastic surgery – but by attitude. Those who when you play scrabble desperately want to make the word Viagra and then give you a little wink. Those who have rationalised that it is quite amazing that we have spent any time here on earth at all – that it is actually you who has been inhabiting your body. Your mum on average had around 400 eggs, your dad 10 million sperm – the chance of any one of us being here is 1 in 4 billion.  Just think if your dad had had one more drink, or maybe your mum had had one less – you could easily have just been a cuddle

People are always asking “Why are we here on planet earth?” – the idea being that we must be here for a reason and that we should stick around until we come to our natural end because that is what has been intended for us. But, for a lot of us, the reason we are here is a fricking accident. You can imagine two philosophers in a bar – somebody asks “Why are we here?” – and one goes “For the further advancement of the human race” – and the other goes “Well, actually I’m here because my dad was supposed to pull out – but at just the wrong moment, my mum stuck her finger up his arse”

Life of Pie: A Survival Guide

A man has survived at sea for over a year by drinking his own urine and eating raw turtle.

Castaway wants to return to Mexico after Pacific ordeal.

It made me think about how long I might survive at sea?  Not long, was my guess. This man survived a year scooping tiny fish by the side of the boat. I’ve been fishing once – for a radio show. On a fishing boat. For four hours. Solid. With a professional fisherman. And we caught nothing. Not a sprat. Not a tiddler. And we had radar.

The thing is whenever there’s been an accident on the news and only one person has survived, my initial reaction is always “That one person would have been me”. Why do I think that? It’s just ridiculous, unfounded optimism. I’m not particularly strong, or got any survival skills, or great medical ability, or any good in a crisis.  I’m weak-willed, have a tendency to panic and my one and only true ability is my ability to fantasise how good I would be in situations I’ve never ever found myself in.

As an example of my ability to deal with a crisis, I once went parachuting. As you jump out of the airplane you are supposed to shout “1000, 2000, 3000, 4000” – I shouted ‘fuck’ all the way down. I had some friends who’d come to watch. I said to them afterwards “Could you tell which one was me?” – and they said “We could hear you from about halfway down”

I worry about being in any position of responsibility. I mean what should you do if you’re sightseeing in a small plane and the pilot has a heart attack?  I worry about things like this. People knock computer games but if you find yourself in that situation you want a kid in the back who’s a bit nifty at Flight Simulator on the PlayStation. “Ok Timmy – the pilot – he’s just having a sleep at the moment – just imagine you’re on the sofa at home. And try not to think if I muck this up, doesn’t matter – I’ll get another life. Try and concentrate on this one.”

Even when there’s just lightning I’m never sure about exactly what to do. Because it usually starts with loads of rain – so you think hide under a tree.  Then you see some lightning – and you think better get away from the tree, get out into the open – and if you find yourself out in the open – you’re supposed to crouch down and curl into a little ball.  But if you saw somebody doing that in the middle of a field in the UK – you’d think they’d lost the plot. Farmer going “What’s that person crouching in the middle of my field for? Oi – stop having a shit!”

They say prepare for any eventuality beforehand. Take an emergency snack, they say. Pop some Kendal mintcake in your rucksack. But the thing is Kendal mintcake is not as nice as it sounds – it’s not a mint and it’s definitely not a cake.  It’s a cross between mouthwash and soap. It’s supposed to be good in emergencies – as far as I can see the only reason Kendal mintcake’s good in emergencies is because it’s the only thing you’re guaranteed not to have eaten before an emergency occurs. You could take a Mars bars as an emergency snack but it might get to 11am on the first morning and you’d think with a smile on your face “I believe that emergency has just arrived”. With Kendal mintcake you could have had a pint of beer, smoked a spliff, not eaten for two days and you’d still look at it and go “I don’t think it’s quite got to that stage yet”

The thing is you can’t prepare for being cast away on a boat for a year. And you really don’t know how you would react in those situations until you’re actually in them. All you can suspect is that it would probably involve a lot of crying and dirty underwear. Could you drink your own urine and eat raw turtle for a year? Could I? I don’t know. I just know that last Saturday I parked my car in a car park to go to a concert and when I came back to the car park I couldn’t find the car and I had to wait for all of the other concert-goers to leave before I located it. So probably not.


Jeremy Lawjohn – Britain’s Most Rightwing Columnist: Cyclists

I don’t like jihadists. Or race hate preachers. Or serial killers.  But I tell you who I really hate – cyclists.  With their smugness. And their lycra. And their bikes. They are not a sport. They are a tribe.  It’s a way of life. They are vegans. And peaceniks. And communists. And they vote Labour. I know they do. All of them. Even though the three most famous cycling politicians in the country are Boris Johnson, David Cameron and Andrew Mitchell.

I hate them with their little GoPro cameras in order that they can go bleating to Youtube when a car gives them a tiny nudge.  But cyclists – live with it.  Roads are for cars. Cycle lanes are for cycles. And if a cycle lane mysteriously runs out for no reason – that’s not the motorists’ problem. Go bleating to the Council – don’t go smacking the side of cars because a car didn’t cross the middle white line into oncoming traffic just because you were chatting two abreast to your lycra lover whilst trying to emulate Bradley Wiggins and not paying proper attention.  He got knocked off his bike. Probably deserved it. What was he doing at a garage? Trying to fill up his bike with petrol?  Of course, we don’t know whether he deserved it or not because there wasn’t a GoPro on the side of the car – but are we going to have to get GoPros on cars now to keep an eye on punchy cyclists? How would you like it if I leant out and slapped your bike when you clip my car? What happens when cyclists ride on pavements? I think pedestrians should be able to slap them.  But don’t slap them too hard, because if they are frightened of cycling on the pavements, they’ll come back on the roads.

There are plenty of examples of cyclists killing pedestrians on the pavement. I haven’t bothered to find any. But there are loads. Obviously not as many as cyclists killed by motor vehicles but I’m not interested in that. Probably some cyclists deserved to die. You’re driving along – the cyclists don’t keep into the kerb and so it takes forever to get round them – then you get past them and you breathe a sigh of relief – then you come to a traffic light – they catch up and come directly in front of you – and you’ve got to get past them all over again. I can imagine if you come to enough traffic lights in quick succession you might be tempted to set off from the lights as amber comes on – just to give them a little warning shunt not to go in front for the eighth time. And if they do come off their bikes and bang their heads – that’s their fault. Shouldn’t have helmets with gaps in.  Are they only trying to protect every other inch of their heads? I tell you if I were a cyclist I wouldn’t be seen dead in one of those helmets. I’d rather get brain-damaged. Which I am.

I tell you, you’d have to be brain-damaged to wear all that coloured lycra.  Most of them have not got bodies that suit streamlining. I’ve seen cyclists in lycra that have made me physically unwell. Deserved to be knocked off – difficult to control a vehicle whilst looking at that.  You are not supposed to shove a sack of potatoes into lycra.  These people would not be streamlined if they got sucked into a sewer pipe. Which is what should happen to them. Them and their lycra. And their saddles. And their bells.  What sort of audible warning noise is that? *Ting a ling*. “I say you are about to kill me”.  *Ting a ling*. Women cyclists are apparently more likely to be killed than male cyclists because male cyclists are more likely to shout at the driver and let him know they are there. In which case, instead of having a bell that goes ‘ting-a-ling’ – why not have one that shouts ‘oi! – oi!– oi!” ? Or one that swears? The tourettes bell. “Oi – oi! – oi! – *£@% off”. That might do some good for the lady cyclists. And I’d find it quite sexual.

Of course, Raleigh was a great British bike company. I liked Raleigh. Made in Nottingham since 1887. No longer. Now owned by the Germans.  What have the Germans ever given us? Shepherd dogs and measles. Not that you can say German measles anymore – you’ve got to say rubella – it’s political correctness gone mad. We’ll have to say Aids next instead of gay plague.

But I’ve bought myself a bike. Only because these stupid drink driving laws mean you can’t drive pissed now – but any freak on a two-wheeler can be off his noddle on pills.  And when I ride that bike, I shall have a sign on my back saying “Motorists. Thankyou for letting me use your roads”.  And if you see me cycling, knock me off – it’s what I would have wanted.

Jeremy Lawjohn – Britain’s Most Rightwing Columnist: Gay Marriage

Now two men can get married. Two geezers.  Two geezers can get married.  Going to ruin weddings.  What happens when the bride throws the bouquet? There are now going to be blokes in the line-up trying to grab it so as they can be the ones to marry next. It’ll be like a line-out in rugby. They’ll be lifting and shirt-pulling and gouging – at a wedding. And lots of tall men will get married. And no short fat people will ever get married again.

And that’s not all. We’ll have gay people marrying just to avoid inheritance tax. Do you want to see that in church – priest going anybody got any reason why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony and a little group from UK Uncut shouting Tax evasion.

I mean I could marry my son – or my brother – possibly – obviously I couldn’t – but it is theoretically possible until they actually frame the legislation.  Because it obviously doesn’t matter marrying your first cousin if its two geezers – as they are not going to be able to have kids anyway.  Although they can now – use a sperm and somebody else’s uterus.  And who’s to say that they won’t find a way of splitting a sperm and joining two halves of a sperm so as we do have an interbred sperm.  Then we’ll have to hope it’s a gay sperm and will head away from the vagina and start migrating towards the anus.

Because gay men – they haven’t got a box between them.  So how they going to be able to split up for non-consummation. None of them can consummate. You can’t give birth with an arse. Mind you I have had one or two toilet stops that have felt a little like childbirth. If childbirth is like pooing a melon, I’ve given birth to a pumpkin.

And we could have a lesbian queen.  Won’t happen for a while unless Charles has a sex change, of course. But let’s mention it anyway. A Queen and a queen.  Two lesbians on the throne.  Sounds more like a DVD I got under the counter at the local corner shop.

And there is David Cameron’s government calling activists swivel-eyed loons.  Average age of tory member is 68. Of course, we’re not into gay marriage – when we were growing up homosexuality was illegal. As it should be.  Sexual offences Act 1967. I tell you 1966 was a great year. No gays, England won the world cup and Rolling Stones were at No 1 with Paint it Black.  Not that they’d probably be allowed to call it that now.  Have to call it paint it African American.  What Mick Jagger and David Bowie had a gay affair?  You’ll be telling me Liberace was a round-the-wicket spin-shirtlifter next.

What is this government up to? They’re all puffs. Apart from Iain Duncan-Smith – he was in the army. Still it’s all puffs in there now as well. Puffs and foreigners. Imagine if our army was all foreign puffs during the war – we’d now all be goosestepping to Hitler and singing ‘deutschland uber alles’ which is what will be happening if we don’t pull out of the EU soon. We’re anglo-saxon and proud. What? The angles and the saxons were originally German tribes? I’m German? You’ll be calling me a foreign puff next. I’ll have to join the army to sort myself out. Still there’s only one sort of bayonet I’m likely to get there now – a pork one. Yes I said it. I’m not afraid of political correctness – but I have gone mad. I don’t know how we ever think we’re ever going to catch any terrorists with the boys in pink – are they going to try and catch them by lying down, parting their buttocks and going ‘cooey!’? And if they do catch a terrorist like that – have a look at their face – we’ll not be the only ones who are swivel-eyed then.

ShedView: Europe & a collective noun of Private Members

The Conservatives are going to try and use parliamentary time to put forward a bill on Europe that they have no hope of winning.  The only reason it seems for doing this is to show that they will definitely hold a referendum in 2017. “Yes we are going to waste parliamentary time showing we are definitely going to do something we said we were going to do, which you knew we were going to do, because we already said we were going to do it”.

It’s not like the Conservative position was confused. Cameron had said he was going to fight tooth and claw with Europe to grab some powers back – he’ll then put those changes in a referendum to a public vote in 2017, at which point he will then fight wholeheartedly to remain in Europe. Tony Blair said this policy was like putting a gun to your own head. I would have said its more like going to a party, telling everybody you are thinking of leaving the party, shitting on the carpet and then shouting “we’re staying!”.

The draft referendum bill was only published by Cameron to appease backbenchers – who then went ahead anyway to vote with ‘regret’ that such a bill didn’t appear in Queen’s speech. This draft bill will need to be introduced by a private member because Conservatives in government can’t introduce it as they specifically agreed not to whilst in Coalition. Not that the Lib Dems will feel too let down. I’m sure they’ll rather enjoy watching the Conservatives split down the middle again.  Cameron has said he won’t ‘lurch to the right’. But he seems to be being dragged towards some sort of Eurotrash TimeWarp. A lurch to the right. And a jump to the right. And a step to the right. With your hand on your hips – bring your hand to the right.

This is all in response to the continued emergence of UKIP. But is UKIP really that much of a threat? It seems more like a cult led by a cross between a bookmaker and Rupert the Bear. He’s always seen with a pint in his hand – but somebody who you always see with a pint in his hand is usually something of an arsehole – because if when you first see them they’ve got a pint, it’s usually not their first pint. Admittedly you don’t often see Nigel Farage finishing the pint he’s holding – but given that UKIP’s policies seem to be 40% more on defence, doubling the number of prison places although we’ve got highest prison population per capita in Europe, abolition of the top rate of tax and tax everybody at around 25%, more grammar schools, 50% more nuclear power, partial repeal of smoking ban and foxhunting ban – you’re thinking what will the policies look like when he does finish the pint?

Gripes about Europe seem largely twofold – Eastern European immigration. And the Human Rights Act. In terms of immigration, the Home Office were supposedly thinking of advertising in Romania to put Romanians off coming to Britain by telling them such things as how crap our weather is. Surely a better advert would be to tell the Romanians that the UK within Europe has the highest rate of sexually transmitted disease, violent crime, obesity, drug use & depression – and follow it up with a big picture of Jimmy Saville.

But advertising to Romanians not to come is in danger of seriously backfiring. In 1972 Leicester City Council advertised in Uganda saying they didn’t want Ugandans to come to Leicester. But that apparently led to increase in Ugandans coming to Leicester, because until the adverts, most people in Uganda had never heard of Leicester and had no idea they might be able to go there.

One of the reasons cited against immigrants is that they come over here to go on benefits. This is wrong. Immigrants are more likely to pay tax – and less likely to be on benefits [e.g. http://www.itv.com/news/update/2013-03-25/immigrants-significantly-less-likely-to-claim-benefits/]. And the experience of Polish immigration seems to have been a largely positive one – polite, punctual, speak good English and happy doing jobs we’re not keen to do. And what’s the downside – going into a corner shop and finding very cheap polish beer and vodka with names that you can only pronounce when you’re pissed.

As for the Human Rights Act, Chris Grayling the justice minister has said Conservatives would like to repeal it [http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/381630/Tories-pledge-to-scrap-dangerous-Human-Rights-Act ]. This is the same Chris Grayling who said about welfare reform that it would not make more people homeless but that ‘it may result in individual cases of housing mobility’. What a double-speaking tosspot. Not that I want to see him de-selected as an MP. I’m just hoping his constituents decide to make him an individual case of parliamentary mobility.

What the Human Rights Act prevents us from doing is sending some people back to their home countries if the courts think they will be tortured. We could prosecute them in the UK but often the security services don’t want to because they don’t want to reveal their sources or they don’t think the evidence will stack up in court. So surely the thing to do is to release them and then re-arrest them when we can stack things up in court. Britain always like to feel that it stands for justice. And yes the individuals concerned might not share the same standards of justice as we do . But that’s ultimately why we will win – because our ideas are better than theirs.  And that’s why the Conservatives have lost in the last week – the idea of wasting Parliamentary time, on something that isn’t going to happen, and if, at some stage in the future, it does happen, it was going to happen anyway – smells as badly as Norman Tebbit’s logic that legalising gay marriage might allow him to marry his own son for tax purposes. An extremely frightening prospect. Particularly for his son.

Article for Evening Standard on Westminster Council’s New Parking Charges

Typical! A Council comes up with a brilliant new plan and you can’t move for the naysayers. Well, I for one think Westminster City Council’s decision to charge for parking between 6.30pm and midnight on single yellow lines is a triumph of reason over inutility. Firstly, nobody is exactly sure when you are allowed to park on single yellow lines anyway. Double yellow lines people understand. No yellow lines people understand. But a single yellow line leads only to confusion – and so now there will be clarity where before there was only maddening uncertainty.

As has been pointed out quite admirably by Westminster Council, some roads in the capital are busier at 3am than they are at 3pm. Everybody knows this. People talk about the school run and rush hour. But everybody knows far more time-consuming are the snack run and the insomnia hour. People are always saying “Ooo don’t go out now at 3am – you’ll get caught in the ‘just discovered no milk for breakfast rush’”. I mean, I am flabbergasted that given these late-night log-jams the parking charges stop at midnight. I would urge the council to go further. I have seen their congestion studies. They conclusively prove that at least one road is just a tiny bit busier at 3am than at any other time of the day. No matter that this road contains a late night garage, a police station, a 24-hour supermarket and an A & E department. That research is good enough for me and I feel warrants parking charges round the clock. Nobody wants congestion when they are filling up with petrol having reported to the police that they had their arm broken whilst doing their weekly shop in their pyjamas.

People have also said that the charges of up to £4.80 an hour are outrageous. Once again for me they don’t go far enough. We all know the current minimum wage is £6.08. Why should parking meters be any different? Do they not have the right to earn minimum wage? I feel they do – and I’m sure if we look closely at the European Parking Meters Rights Act there will be that provision provided [although, I am happy with £4.80 for 16 & 17 year-old parking meters who’ve only just entered the workforce].

Other people have said that charging between 1pm and 6pm will prevent certain people attending church services. But once again, this is justice. Not all religions have their weekly services on a Sunday. Some have them on a Friday. Some have them on a Saturday. So Westminster Council are just evening the playing field for all religions. That’s only fair in multicultural Britain. [Although I did notice that Westminster Council did change the parking charge times by one hour on a Sunday to now start at 1pm rather than midday as a concession to church groups – so Christians, don’t worry, you are still winning]

Yet others, have described this as a ‘nightlife’ tax. Good. Compared to France, Germany and the United States productivity rates in this country are abysmal. Anything that encourages people to knuckle down and not go frittering their evenings away on fun has to be the right way forward for Britain. None of this going into town and enjoying a pint and a meal and a show – we need people in bed early with a decaffeinated mug of cocoa whilst making a list of how they can do better the next day for themselves and for their country. David Cameron wants to put the Great back into Great Britain and we won’t achieve that by going out to some dive bar and dancing in skimpy knickers to ‘What makes you beautiful’ by One Direction.

And, if all this wasn’t enough, there’s been this background noise that if Westminster Council introduce late night parking, people will just park in neighbouring Camden Council areas such as Holborn etc. and congest those up. But once again, I can see the positives in this. Yes, those areas may get a little more congested but it means you won’t have to drive so far into town which will save you petrol and therefore money, and it means you will have a little walk to get to your destination which will be good for your health. Win, win, win.

And let us not forget that this money has the potential to earn the Council an extra 7 million pounds a year. Seven Million Pounds. And imagine all the brilliant things they could do with that sort of money. For instance, they could build a massive car park and let everybody park for free after 6.30pm.