Toboganning policemen are YouTube stars

Oxfordshire police find innovative use for riot shields

The Brtish have a very odd relationship with the snow. It's childish glee one second, and "weather chaos" the next. By now, you're probably sick of the sight of snow -- or at least the relentless media coverage of it (the extent of which you can see here, in the Chartist's diagram for The Staggers).

But it's nice to see that some of our officers (who don't have much of a reputation for being fun-loving, carefree types) didn't lose their excitement, even after nearly a fortnight of EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS, and used, of all things, a riot shield as a makeshift tobogan to slide down a giant hill in Oxfordshire.

Superintendent Andrew Murray, Oxford City commander with Thames Valley Police (obviously trying to strike the right balance between serious and not-too-serious) said:

The snow has a habit of bringing out the child in all of us. I have spoken to the officers concerned and reminded them in no uncertain terms that tobogganing on duty, on police equipment and at taxpayers' expense is a very bad idea should they wish to progress under my command.

Judging from their squeals, I don't think they were too concerned.

 

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Why the Tories' falling poll lead is believable

Jeremy Corbyn has fought a good campaign, while Theresa May's has been a series of duff notes.

Taxi for Theresa May? The first poll since the Manchester bombing is out and it makes for grim reading in CCHQ.

The numbers that matter: the Conservatives are on 43%, Labour on 38%, the Liberal Democrats are on 10%, while Ukip are way down on 4%. On a uniform swing, far from strengthening her hand, the PM would be back in office with a majority of just two.

Frankly a PM who has left so many big hitters in her own party out in the cold is not going to last very long if that result is borne out on 8 June. But is it right?

The usual caveats apply - it's just one poll, you'd expect Labour to underperform its poll rating at this point, a danger that is heightened because much of the party's surge is from previous non-voters who are now saying they will vote for Jeremy Corbyn. There's a but coming, and it's a big one: the numbers make a lot of sense.

Jeremy Corbyn has fought a good campaign and he's unveiled a series of crowd-pleasing policies. The photographs and clips of him on the campaign trail look good and the party's messaging has been well-honed for television and radio. And that's being seen in the Labour leader's popularity ratings, which have risen throughout the campaign.

Theresa May's campaign, however, has been a series of duff notes that could have been almost designed to scare off voters. There was the biggie that was the social care blunder, of course. But don't underestimate the impact that May's very public support for bringing back fox-hunting had on socially liberal Conservative considerers, or the impact that going soft on banning the sale of ivory has in a nation of animal-lovers. Her biography and style might make her more appealing to floating voters than David Cameron's did, but she has none of his instinctive sense of what it is that people dislike about the Tory party - and as a result much of her message has been a series of signals to floating voters that the Tory party isn't for them.

Add that to the fact that wages are falling - no governing party has ever increased its strength in the Commons in a year when that has been the case - and the deterioration of the public realm, and the question becomes: why wouldn't Labour be pulling into contention?

At the start of the campaign, the Conservatives thought that they had two insurance policies: the first was Jeremy Corbyn, and the second was May's purple firewall: the padding of her lead with voters who backed Ukip in 2015 but supported the Conservatives in the local elections. You wouldn't bet that the first of those policies hadn't been mis-sold at this point. Much now hinges on the viability of the second.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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