Authoritarianism – Why we should all be worried & better informed sceptics

Authoritarianism, in any form, is probably what us liberals try to fight against most of all. Indeed, it is one of the biggest fault lines in our left of centre politics as it splits liberals from socialists because socialists tend to lean towards it whilst Liberals abhor it.

And here we are, because of our present health crisis, in a government sponsored authoritarian state with our freedoms significantly curtailed for our own good. Yet despite us being in a form of lock-down the government which imposed this on us is said, in polls, to be reasonably popular. Do we like being told what to do and when we can do it or are the present restrictions on our lives an almost welcome comfort blanket to wrap ourselves in? And how do we know government is doing its best for us? Yes I know they keep telling us they’re doing all they can but is that really true? We, Jane and Joe Public, don’t have the facts so is it right we that we take the view that government is doing its best in difficult circumstances just because they tell us they are?

My view, as a Liberal, remains as it always has, don’t trust anyone with power – remember the adage ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. We have no sitting Parliament, the official opposition is all but missing in action, there’s no leader of the opposition, why even my own party has no elected leader in place! If ever there was a recipe for state sponsored authoritarianism this heady brew must be it!

And on another level I saw a social media posting the other day which made my blood run cold. It was asking folk whether they were flouting or complying with government instructions via you replying to with 1 of 4 answers. Firstly, who on earth would reply that they weren’t following advice? That would be a big invitation to be trolled would it not? But why do folks want such information? Just think about that for a moment…… Before answering any question ask yourself why you are being asked it.

My other worry is that the very journalists whom we are effectively relying on to hold government to account simply aren’t doing so, with a few notable exceptions of course. I’ve been impressed with Nick Cohen but there’s been too many easy ride media interviews for ministers. Surely ministers should be getting turned inside out via probing investigative journalism aimed at exposing any lies and misrepresentations. Now more than at any time we need tough impartial, well informed interviewers and journalists to make those taking the life and death decisions on our behalf feel the heat.

Don’t cheer a government, no matter what its colour, because it is governing in tough times, keep your foot on the back of its neck or it will do what is best for it rather than what’s best for you.

And to close, this from the BBC website about how we are being policed:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52101040

Quote from BBC article – ‘On Monday, Lord Sumption, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, told Radio 4’s World At One the actions of Derbyshire Police – which also included uploading drone footage of walkers to social media – had “shamed our policing traditions”.

“The tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform, they are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government’s command,” he said.’

My thanks to Chris Reilly for provoking my liberal instincts into action……

A cycle ride of contrasts – Spurriers Lane – Outlet Lane – Melling & Simonswood

I’m still cycling during our health crisis although always on my own and not stopping at cafes etc. anymore….

A lane I cycle now and again is Spurriers Lane/Outlet Lane which joins Prescot Road at the Animal Sanctuary in Melling (Merseyside) and then goes through to Simonswood Civil Parish (Lancashire) to join Simonswood Lane. It’s single track lane for its whole length but traffic is light to non-existent virtually all the time.

Sadly, and probably because of the remote nature of the lane it is often a site for fly-tipping. Sights such as this are far from unusual sadly:-

What is it about fly-tippers using their junk to block steams at the side of such lanes? They love tipping in water for some bizarre reason! As you can see this is basically domestic rubbish that simply needed taking to the nearby Sefton Meadows Recycling Centre. I despair I really do.

The lane also has what is turning out to be a near permanent flood (close to Hesketh Farm) which I have nick-named ‘Simonswood Swimming Pool’:-

I’ll give Lancashire County Council a nudge as it’s been like this for quite some time now and is clearly an obstacle for pedestrians and cyclists.

Only yards away from this flooded part of Outlet Lane there’s a sharp left turn and in the distance there are quite a few old brick built buildings which are well spaced out. I’ve often wondered what purpose they serve or used to serve:-

They clearly have flat roofs and a gander at an Ordnance Survey map shows them to geometrically spaced with connecting tracks – around 8 of them and the nearest noted building to them is Basford Farm. Just out of curiosity does anyone know what the buildings were erected for?

When I reach Simonswood Lane I usually turn left and head towards Royal Oak where there’s a crossroads with Cunscough Lane. Royal Oak is part of Bickerstaffe Civil Parish. To reach Royal Oak you have to cycle over the M58 Motorway:-

From single track road to motorway within a few yards. In fact Spurriers Lane/Outlet lane effectively parallels the Motorway. the photo is looking towards Skelmersdale.

This was just a part of my circular route from my Lydiate home through Maghull, Melling, Simonswood, Bickerstaffe & Aughton Civil Parishes – around 10+ miles to keep the old legs turning and to get a bit of fresh air in these troubled times.

Click on the photos to enlarge them although the first one is probably frightening enough without enlargement!

Melling – St. Thomas’ Church Lych Gate

Melling folk will know that this lovely lych gate to St. Thomas & The Holy Rood Church on Melling Rock was attacked and burned by vandals last year. I watched the craftsmen repairing it last June:-

I also blogged about lych gates and their history a while back (Jan’ 2017) and here’s link back to that posting should you want to know more about them:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/01/17/sefton-church-brooms-cross-and-lich-lych-or-lyke-gates/

Looking at the new oak wood repairs a few days ago brought home to me the craftsmanship of the past which is still alive today.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Lydiate (and everywhere else) – The quest for speed and how it impacts on our lives

Southport Road, Lydiate

This is a matter I have oft thought about and not necessarily in the way you might think.

Yes, we all see the mad drivers blasting through our communities at a rate of knots neither aware or caring about the potential consequences of their actions. Indeed, in my own community of Lydiate there are growing concerns from Joe and Jane Public about irresponsible speeding along Southport Road and Moss Lane and I’m quite sure others can add to these two roads.

To his credit local Labour Parish Councillor Neil Spencer is trying to get the powers that be (Sefton Council and Merseyside Police) to address this problem and I’m with him all the way. I’ve previously tried to get Moss Lane’s speeding addressed and the rural part of it was reduced to 40mph a few years back. And my Parish Council colleague Edie Pope campaigned for the speed restriction to be reduced to 40mph along the section of Southport Road where it becomes Mairscough Lane because it’s a notorious accident black spot near the junction with Church Lane. But, and its a big but, bringing in lower speed restrictions does not stop the mad drivers who want to blast along at 50, 60 or even 70mph as they don’t really care. So good luck to Neil, let’s have another go at trying to make Lydiate’s roads safer.

Edie Pope outside her Southport Road farm shop. The notorious accident black spot is in the background.

But to me this speeding problem is probably far more deeply seated in our way of life than we may realise. Everything has to be quick, immediate and now. Our working lives are all about doing things faster to save costs and boost productivity. We leave too shorter time to get from one place to another, probably because we are either too optimistic about how long a journey will take or because everything we do is at 90mph so to speak. In turn all this causes much stress an anxiety so should we really be surprised if it produces more and more racing car drivers on our streets? Just a thought……..

Edie Pope’s scarecrow traffic cop from 2019, which was meant to make drivers think about their speed.

Brexit – Aren’t the Police supposed to be politically impartial?

The BBC has the article on it’s website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-50544243

I don’t know about you readers but this ‘stunt’ and to me it looks to be little more than a politically motivated stunt is very worrying.

It’s the job of the police to uphold the law of the land not for individual officers to have other issues that they want to deal with.

Southport – Making the Wright choice in the General Election

I was at John Wright’s adoption meeting in Southport last night where the Lib Dem flag was being flown high by around 200 people attending the event.

John Wright – Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Southport

Of course Southport is one of the 60 constituencies across England and Wales where PC, the Greens and Lib Dems have stood down for each other so there is only one Remain candidate on the December 12th ballot paper. In Southport the Greens have stood down and it was really great that Laurence Rankin, who would have been their candidate, both attended and spoke to the meeting. Indeed, he made an excellent contribution which showed me how close many Green and Lib Dem policies really are. Here is Laurence speaking:-

Laurence Rankin the Green Party candidate standing down in Southport speaking at John Wright’s adoption meeting.

John Wright has impressed me from the first time I met him as he seems to have the ability to get along with people and understand differing perspectives. He is clearly both delighted and humbled to have the Green candidate standing down for him so he can have a clear Remain Alliance shot at the presently Tory held Southport seat.

As you might expect we heard a great speech from John. But he was also able to introduce a well known local Labour campaigner to the meeting as someone now backing him and he told the meeting that former Labour MP for Crosby Claire Curtis-Thomas had been in touch to offer her support.