A Post-Apocalyptic Dawn

Well, it’s taken 4 years but the Horsemen finally seem to have earnt their corn.

The votes have been counted and verified and I can announce that the winner is Theresa May.

Results in Wales are not set to be announced until Sunday but it seems that the Tory Machine has won the day.  Having lost Cheshire, Leicestershire  and Humberside to Labour, they went on to take Hampshire from Independent, Kent from Independent, Lincolnshire from Independent, Norfolk from Independent, Surrey from Independent, Warwickshire from Independent and West Mercia from Independent.  So, apart from 3 losses to Labour it seems that ALL of the Tory gains were at the expense of the Independents.

I don’t really see why we should be surprised by that, the Tories seem to have targeted the Independent seats with some very (in my view) questionable tactics.

Firstly we had the Cabinet Office decision at a very early stage to withdraw/withold funding for a free mailshot.  Not everyone agrees with me but it is my view that this seriously disadvanaged the Independent candidates without the deep pockets of Party candidates.

We have seen Spin, More Spin and downright untruths from some of the Tory candidates in this campaign.  What on earth is wrong with simply telling the truth?  The story you are telling might not be a vote winner, but your proposals for dealing with it might well be.  Don’t keep telling us that Crime is Down, when it demonstrably is not, tell us that crime has risen and what you propose to do about it.  Way too simple that one for some candidates, they had to have a waltzer ride instead.

In Surrey we saw the late entry of two more Independent candidates which caused a few raised eyebrows and split the Independent vote, but having said that the Tory candidate attracted more votes than all three Independent candidates added together.

Here in DeadBadgerShire we had the (unwelcome) intervention of Mrs Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary.  She seemed to be targeting undecided voters with an email assuring us all that Tory was the only way to go.

A certain amount of spin surely?  Not only the Conservative PCCs that have had the power to ‘Hire and Fire’.

Not only the Conservative PCCs that have set the Policing priorities and overseen multi million £ budgets.

Crime is down by more than a quarter since 2012?  Really.  CrimeStats have endured all kinds of problems over the last few years.  The Home Secretary knows full well that the Counting Rules have chsnged more frequently than my socks.  Recorded Crime is on the increase once more but no mention of that.

We need a PCC that will take the job seriously and work with the government?  Is she implying that ONLY a Conservative candidate will take the job seriously?  Why is it essential to work with government?  It isn’t, it is essential to make Policing work properly, and to serve the public properly.  Mind you, it makes Theresa’s life easier to have a compliant PCC, that could well explain why she wants a PCC that will work with government.

How did she choose who to send it to?  How did she get their email addresses (that could be a worry)?  I didn’t get one so it wasn’t sent to all.

Even if wasn’t wrong to chip in (and some think it wasn’t) just because she COULD, doesn’t mean that she SHOULD have.

In Dorset she progressed to a rather more controversial video, promoting the same message as the email but targeted at Dorset.

Some of you know, most of you don’t know, but I was originally standing as an Independent Candidate for my local Force.  I had received all my registration paperwork from the Electoral Commission, I had sorted my £5k deposit, was designing a campaign website and was well over half way through getting my initial 100 nominations as required when the Cabinet Office withdrew mailshot funding. I was left in a similar position to Mike Pannett but with three entire counties to cover I certainly couldn’t afford leaflets for 3 large counties, I couldn’t effectively ‘Press the Flesh’ over such a large area.  Rightly or wrongly I took the decision early that the field was being tilted and manipulated by government so I withdrew.  Ultimately the sole Independent candidate here finished 4th, so it is highly unlikely that I would have won.  The Tories overthrew a reasonable Independent majority, despite the fact that the only candidate I knew anything about was the surviving Indie, and I was taking an interest unlike the average voter.

Do I regret withdrawing? I most certainly do.  Do I think I could have won?  Almost certainly not, but I am immensely grateful to those who supported and encouraged me, and I’m sorry if you feel that I let you down, but realistically I am convinced, with the benefit of hindsight, that success was far from assured.

There is an element that doesn’t believe that an ex Police Officer would make a good PCC.  Whyever not?  Almost anybody from a School Leaver to a 100 year old pensioner is eligible to stand.  How is any knowledge and experience, at whatever level, be a negative thing?

With just the Welsh votes to be declared the Tories have 20 out of the 36 PCCs elected in England.  More than half.  Labour have 13 PCCs in England, leaving a meagre 3 Independents. THREE!!

Party Politics now play a HUGE part in Policing of England, and I’m sure Wales will follow suit.  Who is to blame?  Personally I blame, partly, Theresa May, for her questionable interventions, but mainly, our old friend APATHY.

The government did a wonderful job of keeping the elections low-key, but I’m sure more people COULD have voted but presumably didn’t think it was important.

Finally I want to pay my own personal tribute to Mike Pannett.  I know the administrative hoops that he had to jump through in the background.  He had to endure some pretty tacky tactics along the way, but he did so with head held high.  Well done Mike.  You have lost no friends or supporters here.  The boy done good.

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Memoirs From A Picket Line – The Final Chapter

Welcome one and all to this, the final chapter of MY Miners’ Strike.
As we start I’m still suspended from Driving Duties, Mutual Aid has ceased and I am waiting to hear my fate.

The beginning of the end is a visit to my Duty Inspector’s office. He informed me that I was to be prosecuted for an offence of Driving Without Due Care And Attention and that he was in possession of the Summons which he duly served on me.  That hurt. Not just because I was being prosecuted, but because it was Christmas Eve (it could have waited till after Christmas) and every other motorist gets their summons in the post.  For some reason Personal Service was deemed more appropriate for me.

I have to say that once I got down to trying to sort things out after Christmas, the Federation were not brilliant. However they did agree with my suggestion that I could choose my own solicitor and they would pay the bill.  A bit of a cop out but it actually suited me well.

I took myself off to the office of one of the local solicitors that I had frequently battled with at the local Magistrates Court (no CPS in the early days, we prosecuted our own cases, Traffic and Minor Crime).  Once I showed him the summons and relayed my version of events he initially thought that it was some kind of sick joke.

Eventually I was served the prosecution pack of statements and the Accident Investigator’s report.  What I saw and read made me feel like laughing, but it didn’t quite come out that way.

It was quite clear that the Police, when taking the other driver’s statement, had asked her what speed she was driving at at the time of the collision.  She had stated that she was travelling at a speed of 60mph, coincidentally the speed limit for that piece of road.  She claimed that she had first seen me when she was “2 car lengths away” from my car.

The Accident Investigator’s report pointed out that xxx yards to the left (I’m sorry, I forget the distance) was a bend but at 60mph the Porsche would have been clearly visible to me, had I looked left.

My solicitor engaged the services of Professor somebody or other, who apparently was an expert in Accident Investigation and Reconstruction.  His conclusions were completely at odds with the conclusions of the Nottinghamshire Traffic Officer’s report.

In April I was informed that there would be a Pre Trial Review. My solicitor spoke to the Clerk of the Court and asked what that was all about.  He was informed that all interested parties got together and went over the evidence, presumably in an attempt to get an early Guilty Plea.  So he asked the Clerk “Does that mean you might find there’s No Case To Answer?”   “Oh no” said the Clerk “There’s no chance of that”.  “In that case we’re not coming” responded my brief “see you at the trial”.

I wasn’t sure that answer was in my best interests, but I trusted him.
On the appointed day we jumped on a train and set off for Mansfield. I was not feeling happy.

Before the trial even got underway two things happened that made me feel a little better.

Firstly the Chairman of the Bench decided that he would close the Court to Press and Public.  We hadn’t requested that, it was an unexpected bonus.


Secondly I was informed that the Chairman of the Bench was a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, so whatever was going to happen that day he would at least have understood all the formulae that were going to be bandied about.


The one thing that didn’t please me was learning that a whole day had been set aside for the trial.  I accept that I have never been a Traffic Officer but I had never encountered a full day’s trial for a Without Due Care.

The trial got underway with the other driver giving her evidence first.  It seems she had dropped her children off at school and was thinking about her shopping list (honestly). The rest of it was pretty much in line with her statement that I had already read.

The Accident Investigator gave his evidence next. Pretty predictable and unremarkable, I had already read his conclusions. My solicitor only asked him one question in cross examination “What are your qualifications officer?”

It seems he had completed Part One of the Accident Investigator’s Course, but was due to do Part Two soon.  “Thank you Officer”

At this point the Chairman of the Bench decided to leap in with a question. ” Officer, you have told us about the Skid Tests and Acceleration Tests that you conducted using your Ford Granada.  Was that vehicle fitted with NCT tyres?”  “I don’t know Sir, the same sort of tyres as they put on Vauxhall Astras”.

“Thank you Officer”

A Fine Example of an NCT Tyre

Lunch

Then it was my turn. Pretty routine, I knew the story backwards, and I had given evidence literally hundreds of times, though not normally as The Defendant.

Next, and finally, came my star witness, the Prof.

He started off by introducing his own qualifications.  BSc, MSc, PhD, 12 years experience reconstructing accidents and consultancy work for the Home Office.  I was beginning to feel better.

He then played his trump card.  He went over his Accident Reconstruction, based on data supplied by the Reporting Officers, and informed the Court that in his expert opinion the Porsche had initially been traveling at 113.7mph prior to the application of the brakes. At this speed it would most definitely have been out of view around the bend when I commenced my manoeuvre.

No questions in cross-examination and no questions from the Bench.

The Bench retired.

Then they sent out for tea and biscuits.

After only 20 minutes they returned. I stood to hear my fate.

Not Guilty.

Then it got even better.  The Chairman asked me who was responsible for my Costs.  After hearing that the Federation were paying he looked a little crestfallen.  Had I been responsible for my own costs he was going to make an Order requiring Nottinghamshire Constabulary to pay them, but as the Fed were paying he let it lie.

The lady Porsche driver walked across the Court, shook my hand and congratulated me, and not sarcastically.  I asked her if the Met had yet paid her out for her Porsche.  “I don’t actually know, but I’ve ordered a new one anyway”. “I’m glad it all worked out well for you”.  I have a vague memory that she may have been the wife of somebody on the Police Authority, but I’m far from certain about that bit.

Then la pièce de résistance, the Nottinghamshire Sergeant who’d started all this off showed me his Prosecution File.  It contained a Minute from the Chief Constable no less, saying that any Met Officer coming to notice during the Miners’ Strike was to be prosecuted, end of.

I floated back to London on a Happy Cloud.

After a few days I decided to phone the relevant Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard to tell him that I had been acquitted and to ask to be reinstated to Driving Duties. “We all know what happens at Court son, the Innocent are convicted and the Guilty go free”. Followed by “you can be reinstated but the accident will be To Count”. i.e. he was still going to record it as my fault, regardless of the Court decision.

Never again did I put my own personal Driving Licence at jeopardy for the benefit of the Met.  Captain Slow would have been proud of me, I was probably the Met’s slowest Response Driver, but no way was I going through that again.  Nobody cared that I could have been Disqualified, and for what?

All sorts of things changed for me that day.

Greenham Common anyone?

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Memoirs From A Picket Line – Part Six

Welcome to my last ever tour of duty on the Miners’ Strike.  This week finds me still suspended from driving, sat in the back of a Transit Minibus as one of the crew, in Ripon, North Yorkshire, of all places.  The furthest north I had ever been at that time.

It was a really boring week to be honest, the highlights were testing the sense of humour of our North Yorkshire Constabulary Traffic officers who escorted our convoy of Transits wherever we went.

They finally lost the plot when we reached a roundabout that we had been round dozens of times before and did a pre-arranged bomb burst onto all of the roads exiting the roundabout.  The ensuing panic and disapproval from the North Yorkshire officers made us chuckle even more, but they never did see the funny side of it.

The only other event of any note was a drinking completion in the NAAFI between the Met and GMP, which I believe was declared an honourable draw after nobody agreed to lie down.

Friday came, our last ever day up north. Punctuated only by short spells on a a totally calm picket line, until early afternoon when we were relieved and dismissed for the long drive back to London.

As we were being escorted back to the M1 by North Yorkshire our driver thought it would be a hoot to overtake the escorting vehicle. On a dual carriageway.  The Traffic Cops were not impressed, pulled us over and reported our driver for Dangerous Driving (it wasn’t).

The perfect end to our last week. No Further Action was rightly taken against our driver who will probably never want to visit Yorkshire ever again.


End of the chapter, and almost the end of the saga.

And this is as good a time as any to remember and acknowledge an Inspector called Don. One of the finest Inspectors I ever knew, one of that rare breed that inspired his troops and they followed him anywhere.  This automatically made him unpopular with the management.

If you’re reading this Don, please get in touch, I owe you a lot.

To be continued…………..

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