Ed Lines

THERE was a time when I was on first name terms with the chief executives of Kirklees Council, as I was with police Chief Superintendents too. I could pick the phone up and vice versa. We could speak off the record with a level of mutual trust.

Times have changed and not for the better, either in improving our towns and communities, or in promoting local democracy and answerability.

That’s not a local malaise, by the way. It’s every town hall and police force in a country which has somehow arrived at a totally fractured fork in the road. The public is the de facto enemy of the political, police and bureaucratic classes and the media is regarded as its militant voice. The recent Brexit vote is only one symptom of this breakdown.

Kirklees has instituted something called a Democracy Commission which frankly stuns me, given this authority’s abject record in administering that most basic democratic institution – the public vote.

Its aim is, unsurprisingly, to explore people’s views on Democracy in Kirklees. My first reaction was that it would be nice; would make a change. But that’s too glib because it’s a problem only in certain parts of the district.

The Commission has an ‘independent’ chairman in Dr Andy Mycock although given that he’s from the University of Huddersfield and the rest of his panel are serving Kirklees councillors, I already have my reservations.

I’ve been invited to address the Commission and I couldn’t have accepted faster or more enthusiastically if it had been Halle Berry ringing and asking me to help fasten her stockings and sussies.

Sadly, I wouldn’t know the current Kirklees chief exec Adrian Lythgo if I ran into him while delivering a sack-load of Savile Town postal votes. I imagine in such a circumstance however that he would be struggling to walk from A to B - because he must have brass balls the size of an Olympic shot put, given what he came out with this week.

If you missed the news, former Tory minister Eric Pickles has delivered a report on electoral fraud. It was a good choice because when he was leader of Bradford Council, big Eric would have seen quite a bit of hanky panky first hand.

Eric’s slap-my-thigh, go-to-the-foot-of-our-stairs conclusion, was that police (and councils) turn blind eyes, ears and arrest warrants to rank voter fraud among Muslim communities for fear of being accused of racism.

Rochdale or Rotherham anyone? Ring a bell?

Oh well, I suppose at least no one gets drugged and raped in fixing a local election. Maybe we should be thankful for small mercies.

But here's the killer – KMC chief Adrian Lythgo, who has orchestrated institutional cover-ups of electoral fraud specifically in Dewsbury for years, has “welcomed” Eric Pickles's report.

Brass balls the size of shot puts? Balloons more like. Hot air balloons.

I’m counting the days to my appearance at the Commission – and I trust none of its members call in sick that day...

IT'S ironic that GB's Rio gold rush comes on the back of the biggest sell-off of school sports fields and closure of public sports facilities since Baron de Coubertin turned a three-legged-race and garden croquet into the biggest sporting bonanza on the planet.

It shows what a talented bunch we are everyone (pat a neighbour on the back...)

I don’t think golf, tennis or 7s should be in – but I was glued to them all the same.

I still hold my breath when I watch the gymnastics, because that’s not normal. I admit that I can’t watch the ladies’ beam event. How does anyone make it to Rio or London or Beijing to even compete? How come they’re not all in plaster, or busy trying to extract their teeth from the wooden banister they do double somersaults on?

I can only imagine the beam they use for practice is on the floor, surrounded by beanbags. In fact there’s a thought – if you want to encourage participation, make the darn thing just 12 inches off the mat. (I’d still break my ankle just trying to turn round on it).

Much praise from the successful athletes has gone to funding from the Lottery, to which quite a few grinches have objected.

I think we can rest assured Justin Rose and Andy Murray didn’t need help, nor Bradley Wiggins or Mark Cavendish – but the less well known names, who dedicate years of their lives to trying to glorify not just themselves but our nation? Lottery funding gets my thumbs up every time.

Would people prefer that hundreds of thousands from the Big Lottery Fund are frottered away to fictitious ‘community groups’ as was happenng in Savile Town?

If witnessing the success of Rebecca Adlington, Steve Redgrave and Chris Hoy in the past, Adam Peaty, Laura Trott and Max Whitlock in Rio, encourages youngsters to get off their backsides and ditch the Pokemon Go, I say ‘Amen’.

THERE’S a problem with Laura Trott, her boyfriend Jason Kenny and Mo Farah. How? It’s with Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Ben Ainslie, Dame Kelly Holmes etc.

It’s fine and dandy dishing out knighthoods when you’re a nation for whom a gold medal is a rarity, but when they’re hanging round Team GB necks like Brazil nuts off a tree, where do you stop? As expected, I have a thought.

Given how David Cameron and the political classes corrupt the honours system year in, year out, I think it’s wrong expecting our national heroes to share titles with fraudsters, sycophants and political financiers – so just bin the lot.

Starting from scratch, we could then create a new honours system, with robust public oversight, to recognise great sporting feats (among others) and the contribution to society of properly heroic citizens.

LAST WEEK I promised the results of our occasional Dewsbury town centre shop survey.

It always helps to have ‘filler’ stories in what we call silly season ... except this patch is never thin for news. As such we’ve had to hold it over until next week.

UNLIKE the vast majority of traditional Labour voters cast in the mould of my wonderful late mum, I cannot find a bad word to say about leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Lots of mickey-taking, sarcastic words, yes. He’s a cast-iron idiot who would need to convene a committee to boil an egg. But bad? No.

His leadership rival Owen Smith however has none of the innate excuses that Corbyn boasts. Smith actually finished his education after a fashion – crap degree, lousy Uni. But Smith’s risible suggestion that we should “sit round a table with ISIS” takes not just the biscuit but a Fox’s factory load.

This would-be PM wants us to ‘negotiate’ with ISIS. About what exactly? Whether we choose to nuke ourselves or helpfully cut each other’s throats before the last man submits to Islam?

It says something about these fools’ naivete that they don’t understand the basic tenet of ISIS – submission or destruction.

That’s a pretty extreme position to try negotiating back from Owen, because offering some IMF grants and a few oil fields isn’t going to do it. For once it’s really not about the money.

Oh, and should you get your wish to sit round the table with ISIS – and boy, do I wish that could happen – make sure you’ve got the steak knives and they’ve only got soup spoons...

PS: They’d even take your eyes out with those, given chance. What a moron.

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