Friday, 18 September 2009

Time to stop........and think

HAVE you ever been stopped and searched? This week the government announced that they’ll be scrapping the lengthy forms that police officers have to fill in when they stop and search people. Previously, coppers had to write pages of details on anyone they searched even if they didn’t arrest them. Now they’ll only have to jot down the suspect’s name, race, and why they were stopped. It’s an attempt to cut red tape and free up bobbies to do what they’re meant to be doing —fighting crime not filling in forms. But there is another side to this. The danger is that less bureaucracy will mean more searches. They’ll be quicker and easier for the cops to carry out so we could end up with them happening even more often. That would be a bad thing. Stop and search is a useful power for combating serious crime and terrorism but should be used very sparingly. It’s been well proved that constantly stopping and searching people turns them against the police. It was one factor which kicked off the Brixton riots back in the 80s and it’s often used by militant Islamists keen to stir up anger against the cops and the government. If we don’t keep a check on stop and search, paperwork will be the least of our problems.
THE Trades Union Congress (TUC) drew a lot of flack this week when they took on the role of fashion police. We’re in recession, trade unionists abroad are being persecuted by dodgy dictators and the government is eroding our civil liberties. But the annual gathering of unions decided to devote a big chunk of their discussion and debate to—high heels. You see, certain unions reckon that women are under pressure to wear high heels to work and that this can damage their health. They tabled a motion and led a big old debate on the merits and pitfalls of various female footwear. Some unionists sensibly argued that people should be allowed to wear what they like without unions sticking their noses in. After all, there are already employment laws that protect anyone from being forced to wear stuff that will cause them health problems and this debate only wasted time that could have been spent on more serious issues. Incredibly the congress voted to condemn high heels. What do they want attractive girls to wear? Overalls? Sensible shoes? Cloth caps? Why don’t they just ban make-up as well, then get the Taliban to run the unions? I gave my good friend Laura Marie Newman a call about all this. She said she’d be happy to leave her high heels at home… when hell freezes over!
HE’S out! This week Muntadar al-Zaidi, the journalist who chucked his shoes at George Bush, was released from prison to a hero’s welcome. Maverick Muntadar has been swamped with offers of cash, land and admiring young Arab ladies desperate to marry him. He’s even been offered a golden horse by the Emir of Qatar. That’s gotta be worth more than the shoes he threw! However, there’s a darker side to this tale. Muntadar claims that during his nine months in the slammer he was, beaten and given electric shocks. These allegations echo Iraq’s brutal past and are a chilling sign that things might not have moved on all that much. I wish Mr al-Zaidi all the best and hope that he can now settle down in peace (with or without his golden animals—and shoes). But, above all, I hope Iraq can move onwards and upwards. Saddam may be gone but torture has to go too.
I’VE recently flagged up some of the whacky ways companies have been trying the get through the recession. Well, get a load of this . . . Last month Premier Inns launched a “£58 honeymoon” to help hard-up newlyweds. For that you get a room, Primark pyjamas, a box of chocolates, a spa set and a bottle of sparkling wine. Not bad! But a hotel on the Caribbean island of Aruba has gone even further—a £180 discount if you conceive a child while you’re there. Take a break at the Westin Resort, indulge in “bedroom athletics” with the missus, get a doctor’s note to prove that the resulting kid was probably conceived there and, voila, 180 smackers cash-back! What a delightful initiative! If the UK government had anything to do with it they’d probably send out a health and safety inspector to observe proceedings, then deport the baby when it was born because it wasn’t conceived in the UK!
IT’S funny that after all this time some people still get wound up about me writing this column. I’m proud to be part of the Daily Sport team and it’s disappointing when people run the paper down. So I was pleased when a fella called Stephen Hill came up to me in the Elephant Castle pub in Newtown and gave the Sport a big thumbs up. People who rubbish the Sport are patronising its readers who have every right to enjoy news, politics and fun in their newspaper. So good on ya, Stephen— in my book you’re King of the Hill

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