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No place for meek and mild in politics, says columnist John Bone




You may think it is a little late for me to start being nice to Newmarket Town Council and I am quite surprised myself.But the fact is I feel our elected representatives are being unfairly criticised over theirferocious internal wrangle.

Until recently the council, for whose creation I actively campaigned, has largely been a disappointment, getting lost inpeevish spats.But things have perked up.Deeply divided, they have sought the shelter of our dignified columns from which to launch their undignified salvoes at each other.

Great!I see this as a sign of life, a sign of commitment to local life and its troubles.

Roll on 2021...
Roll on 2021...

I have no time for this passionless “working together” advocated by some shocked onlookers.When public people are fighting for what they believe to be the best policies they should do just that – fight.The meek may inherit the earth, but not in politics.

By the same token I totally dismiss these naïve and futile appeals to keep party politics out of local government.This is as foolish as saying politics should be kept out of religion.Pleasant as the possibility might sound, it is only possible if one side sells out to the other.When our bishop begged us not to ignore the plight of Suffolk’s poor people he was being political.He wanted political change.Was he wrong?No, he was doing his job and doing it well.

How can town and parish councillors fail to become part of politics when they are statutorily obliged to respond to central government?The present battleground of changing housing policy is a perfect example of how local councils are at the sharp end of vast national schemes.Are they to stay silent to preserve their lofty a-political purity?No, my dear councillors, fight on, be rude if you feel the need.The world was never more in need of sincere leaders who stand their ground and say why.

Here are a few things I hope to see or hear less of in 2021:

Fewer photos of charismatic super-Mayor James Palmer with his smug smile under his hard hat.Does he wear it in the office too?In bed?

Fewer pundits, politicians and almost all of us using the word “unbelievable” to describe anything even mildly interesting or marginally important.The worst case was when a BBC bigwig called one of his former reporters “unbelievably honest”.What’s wrong with great, marvellous, wonderful, immense, big, large, successful or anything else other than unbelievable with the exception of “remarkable” which sounds good but means nothing.

Celebrities.All of them.I am weary of seeing these creatures simpering on my TV screen, nonentities of whom I have ever heard and exhibit their pitiful ignorance on otherwise sensible shows like Mastermind.The worst sit on studio sofas and smile inanely convinced of their own invincible excellence.

The gullible have always been with us, as have conspiracy theorists, false alarms and downright lies but these new social media have made spreadingmischief or dangerous nonsense to credulous twits so much easier.Some sub-human teenager in the Australian outback has only to inject a bit of bunkum into the twittersphere and a spasm of terror grips the globe.

This intrigues me.As a scientific experiment I intend in this column to float a few wild assertions and see how long they take to get a grip on society and come back to me, their naughty creator.So here they are:

Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has secret plans to set up Las Vegas-style casinos, hotels, brothels and instant marriage chapels development on the July Course.

The Rt Hon Matt Hancock called his pet hen Covid 19 and ate the bird at Christmas.

John Bone is actually a woman who was stolen from her pram by gypsies in 1882 and was brought up as a boy because they had no spare girl’s clothes.

Suffolk is slowly sinking into a vast subterranean chasm full of poisonous gases but the authorities keep it quiet to avoid public panic.

So troubled are our times that the familiar words of Happy New Year seem to be asking too much of the immediate future.I have taken to telling my friends that I hope they survive.Happiness is going to take a little more working at.Good jokes are balm when we are all worried.They cracked jokes, sometimes smutty, in air raid shelters under the Blitz.But senses of humour vary so much from person to person that a universally amusing joke is impossible.Personally, I think my joke the other day about Boris Johnson having reduced the nation to tiers was a real humdinger but my colleagues here in the office merely shudder at such a lame pun.

So all I can safely say is that I truly hope everyone finds
plenty to laugh at in the year ahead.