Sunday, 1 February 2009

Manchester - Guinea-Pig City

In case anyone here thinks I have going to talk about furry animals, in line with one of the usual green stereotypes, I'll make it clear that this is guinea pig which (to quote Wikipedia) is 'a metaphor in English for a subject of experimentation'. In the old days, Scotland could be relied on for this role (remember the poll tax?), but they've got a bit of independence now, so step forward a new victim, Manchester.

To give 3 recent examples.

- A couple of years back our government got very keen on casinos, and one lucky borough was earmarked for the biggest casino of all. East Manchester was formerly a hive of industry, but is now a serious area of deprivation. This was deemed to be a perfect site for a huge gambling den, unprecedented in British social history. Manchester's Labour Council, lacking the imagination or ability to come up with a beetr solution for the area, were enthusiastic despite the warnings of many groups regarding crime and gambling addiction, and the consequent further impoverishment of many people in the area. It was subsequently pulled by Son-of-the-Manse Gordon Brown (without any alternative strategy) so we'll move on.

- The great transport bid / congestion charge debate roused many strong views, but a significant argument of the anti- campaigners was that Manchester was being used as a guinea pig for a particular form of road-pricing, with a scheme proposed which was unlike anywhere else on the planet. No other city was subjected to this, London has its congestion charge, true, but it also gets far more than its share of major transport spending. Greater Manchester, despite its considerable size has long been treated as a poor provincial relation. Maybe Manchester doesn't have enough marginal Labour seats?

- The third example hit the news a couple of days ago. The Government's stubborn and perverse determination to foist ID cards on us has already led to Manchester Airport employees being amongst the first to have to carry them, now Jacqui Smith wants Manchester to be one of the first places these are rolled out (see here), shamelessly promoting them in a school. Despite massive opposition, including from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green Parties, the Government claims people can't wait to have these cards, indeed as I go about my business on the streets of Manchester I often come across huge mobs impatient to pay money to be fingerprinted and scanned - err not. For information on ID cards see NoID and for a less partisan view from an IT perspective Computer Weekly often provides some lowdown on this and other Government IT c**kups.

Daft Comment of the Week:
I haven't kept this feature up very well, so 2 for the price of one this week.
Firstly: the BNP's Simon Darby has let slip that 'Party''s true nature, by describing it as 'technically an ethnic group' - clearly an admission that the BNP is a completely race-based group, unlike any legitimate UK political party. Thanks to Lancaster UAF for that info. The BNP are claiming to be the victims of racism by the way - sheesh!

Secondly here's a quote about climate change from a Councillor Barton, a Tory on Birmingham Council, admittedly from last year but brought to my attention this morning by Spencer Fitzgibbon “We can’t even predict the weather three days ahead...It’s said that we are going to turn into a desert, but there’s not much sign of that happening yet.” Councillor Barton is tipped to become a Tory MP at the next general election, and this is in a city whose Conservative-LibDem coalition recently announced its intention of making Birmingham the UK’s first “sustainable global city”. (Actually some people who have been to Birmingham might debate the desert comment).
It's hard to do a daft Tory quote from a Manchester City Councillor as there's only one of them, but he is trying to get into the Daft Comment spot and will probably succeed before long.

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