Bernard Manning, R.I.P.

The Pakistani parliament mourns the passing of the politically-incorrent comic and David Miliband co

Of the Queen’s Honours list, Reactionary Snob noted: “If you listened very carefully you could actually hear Blair pulling out the pin of the hand grenade last week... this was going to cause a shitstorm, and a shitstorm it has caused.”

He was of course highlighting the decision to honour Salman Rushdie. Reactionary Snob goes on to take apart Pakistan’s religious affairs minister’s condemnation of the honour in language too graphic to be repeated here, though still worth a look.

Over at Times Online, Daniel Finkelstein called the decision to knight Rushdie a “bold and correct one” and has emailed a petition off to the Number 10 Downing Street website. He said: “I think it is important that we show that we are not prepared to be cowed by this sort of threat.”

The petition will be put up as soon as it is accepted and reads: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to accept our congratulations for recommending to the Queen that Salman Rushdie receive a knighthood.”

Iain Dale's reaction to the furore was entitled “Salman Rushdie Does Not Deserve a Knighthood But He Must Keep It” and concluded with a bold statement: “Perhaps our response should be to cut off all our millions of pounds of aid to Pakistan until this minister is sacked from the Pakistani government.”

Another controversial figure who made the blog discussion boards this week was Bernard Manning - who wrote in his own obituary he was pleased he was not going to the same place as “the po-faced, politically-correct brigade.”

Following Manning's death on Monday, Obsolete wrote: “On hearing of the sad news, the Pakistani parliament immediately adjourned the session and called for a motion on declaring an official day of mourning, which was passed unanimously. The Pakistan religious affairs minister, Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, was one of the first to eulogise about Manning's demise:‘He may have been politically incorrect, but at least he didn't BLASPHEME like that bastard Rushdie. I call for any suicide bombers who might have thought of targeting Manning's funeral to instead hold their laughter.’”

David Miliband launched Defra’s Carbon Calculator this week, with a short movie explaining how it was done. He also honestly provided us with his results: “My individual footprint (for personal not ministerial energy, electrical appliances and transport) came out at a respectable three tonnes, though when the rest of the family were included we were a bit above average thanks to a couple of long-haul flights.”

Unfortunately, Defra seem to have under-estimated the amount of interest in carbon calculation as too many people tried to use it and the server crashed. I wonder if it can calculate just how much energy was wasted by PCs trying to access the site.

Alun Davies AM has been recruiting Welsh politicians for the annual Parliamentary Shield – a football match played between political representatives of the Home Nations, sponsored by McDonald's. Check out Blamerbell’s fantasy Welsh team here.

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Rising crime and fewer police show the most damaging impacts of austerity

We need to protect those who protect us.

Today’s revelation that police-recorded crime has risen by 10 per cent across England and Wales shows one of the most damaging impacts of austerity. Behind the cold figures are countless stories of personal misery; 723 homicides, 466,018 crimes with violence resulting in injury, and 205,869 domestic burglaries to take just a few examples.

It is crucial that politicians of all parties seek to address this rising level of violence and offer solutions to halt the increase in violent crime. I challenge any Tory to defend the idea that their constituents are best served by a continued squeeze on police budgets, when the number of officers is already at the lowest level for more than 30 years.

This week saw the launch Chris Bryant's Protect The Protectors Private Member’s Bill, which aims to secure greater protections for emergency service workers. It carries on where my attempts in the last parliament left off, and could not come at a more important time. Cuts to the number of police officers on our streets have not only left our communities less safe, but officers themselves are now more vulnerable as well.

As an MP I work closely with the local neighbourhood policing teams in my constituency of Halifax. There is some outstanding work going on to address the underlying causes of crime, to tackle antisocial behaviour, and to build trust and engagement across communities. I am always amazed that neighbourhood police officers seem to know the name of every kid in their patch. However cuts to West Yorkshire Police, which have totalled more than £160m since 2010, have meant that the number of neighbourhood officers in my district has been cut by half in the last year, as the budget squeeze continues and more resources are drawn into counter-terrorism and other specialisms .

Overall, West Yorkshire Police have seen a loss of around 1,200 officers. West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Nick Smart is clear about the result: "To say it’s had no effect on frontline policing is just a nonsense.” Yet for years the Conservatives have argued just this, with the Prime Minister recently telling MPs that crime was at a record low, and ministers frequently arguing that the changing nature of crime means that the number of officers is a poor measure of police effectiveness. These figures today completely debunk that myth.

Constituents are also increasingly coming to me with concerns that crimes are not investigated once they are reported. Where the police simply do not have the resources to follow-up and attend or investigate crimes, communities lose faith and the criminals grow in confidence.

A frequently overlooked part of this discussion is that the demands on police have increased hugely, often in some unexpected ways. A clear example of this is that cuts in our mental health services have resulted in police officers having to deal with mental health issues in the custody suite. While on shift with the police last year, I saw how an average night included a series of people detained under the Mental Health Act. Due to a lack of specialist beds, vulnerable patients were held in a police cell, or even in the back of a police car, for their own safety. We should all be concerned that the police are becoming a catch-all for the state’s failures.

While the politically charged campaign to restore police numbers is ongoing, Protect The Protectors is seeking to build cross-party support for measures that would offer greater protections to officers immediately. In February, the Police Federation of England and Wales released the results of its latest welfare survey data which suggest that there were more than two million unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12-month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon.

This is partly due to an increase in single crewing, which sees officers sent out on their own into often hostile circumstances. Morale in the police has suffered hugely in recent years and almost every front-line officer will be able to recall a time when they were recently assaulted.

If we want to tackle this undeniable rise in violent crime, then a large part of the solution is protecting those who protect us; strengthening the law to keep them from harm where possible, restoring morale by removing the pay cap, and most importantly, increasing their numbers.

Holly Lynch is the MP for Halifax. The Protect the Protectors bill will get its second reading on the Friday 20th October. 

0800 7318496