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A quick trawl through this Sunday's paper reveals the following ....
• Yet another "radical overhaul" of our schools is on the way. The government proposes to stop local authorities (you know, the people we elect to run our services for us) from opening any new schools, and to encourage existing schools to opt out of local authority control and turn themselves into trusts run by private companies, charities, churches or even other private schools.
• Smokers are to be banned from lighting up in any public place. Some politicians are backing an amendment which would allow pubs to have a "smoking carriage" - a separate room with powerful air-conditioning, automatic doors etc. A spokesman close to the Health Secretary said that the aim would be "to make them as unpleasant as possible".
• The government's new religious hatred bill will outlaw criticism of any religion however daft and harmful it may be. It will be illegal and punishable with a prison sentence to make jokes about religion (so that's quite a few comedians in gaol, then), to suggest that any religion may in any way be deleterious to the public good (that should take care of a few serious academics, philosophers and the like), to depict religion in an unfavourable light (so quite a few films like "The Witches of Salem", "Life of Brian", "The Baby of Macon" and "The Mission" will become unscreenable, and Salman Rushdie will get a life sentence, I should think) or even to scoff at the vicar in the pub (that's me, then).
I'd better get this in while I can: How do you know Jesus was Jewish? He lived at home till he was 30 and his mother thought he was God.
• At the 2012 Olympics, VIPs will be allocated special traffic lanes to drive in, and anyone else who strays into them is liable to be fined 5,000. By comparison, failing to stop at a red light earns a maximum of 1,000. And that could actually kill someone, though I suppose it would only be someone ordinary so it doesn't matter.
• John Prescott has given the go-ahead for 3,600 new homes to be built on green belt land, despite a 10-year campaign against the plan by local residents.
And that's just ONE paper on ONE Sunday of the year.
This is, to put it quite simply, bullying. We are being bullied by a government that thinks it knows best and refuses to listen to anyone else, and that believes it has the right to persecute, vilify and degrade minorities at will. It's little short of dictatorship, and the sort of thing that gives democracy a bad name - I mean, would we really be any worse off in a military dictatorship? I doubt it - I know plenty of army officers who would do a reasonable job. At least they would have the honesty to say "Do this because we say so", instead of "Do this because we say it's for your own good". Bastards.
This dictatorial attitude is not confined to Tony Blair and the Seven Dwarves, however. Here in Suffolk we have a particularly unpleasant road, the A140. It's an ordinary single carriageway, mostly straight, passing through several villages, but carrying quite heavy traffic between Ipswich and Norwich. In a bid to cut the (already not very great) accident rate on this road, Suffolk County Council imposed, on an experimental basis, blanket speed limits of 30, 40 and 50 m.p.h. the entire length of the road. The effect has been that accidents have dropped a very tiny amount, journey times have increased massively, and the speed limits are being far more widely ignored than in the past.
There have been numerous protests from members of the public. The county council invited comments and opinions, and almost 80% of all the people who responded were against the speed limits - this included the Suffolk police, the A140 Campaign and at least two of the local parish councils.
So what have the council decided? At a Rights of Way Committee meeting this week they decided to ignore the wishes of the public and recommend making the speed limits permanent. They asked us what we wanted, we told them, and they've decided they know better. They even had the nerve to suggest that people who were in favour of the limits were afraid to speak out - because, of course, it wasn't possible that the majority of the electorate didn't agree with them, was it?

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