Rhodes on a great headline, a suspicious delay and the madness of all those police forces

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

York – ale and axes. Photo: Pixabay.
York – ale and axes. Photo: Pixabay.

Great headlines of our time. From the Guardian: “York council to rule on whether to allow alcohol at axe-throwing centre.”

A week ago, at lunchtime last Friday, the news broke that Durham Police were re-examining the gathering known as Beergate. Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner responded by promising to resign if they were fined. But they didn't make that response until Monday, which is perfectly bizarre.

Surely the best time to respond to the police announcement was the moment it was made. Any delay inevitably raises questions about what conversations and calculations, if any, took place during those 48 hours. At every stage in this silly saga, when Labour should have displayed total transparency, it has dug itself into a deeper, muddier hole.

The use of “gate” on the end of any political scandal is rarely a helpful description. So far, the 2012 “Plebgate” row over police refusing to open the Downing Street road entrance for a Tory MP on his bicycle remains the only “gate” incident which actually involved a gate.

Beergate has proved my original comment on it, namely that England and Wales having 43 separate police forces, each with its own enforcement rules, is a byword for inconsistency, which undermines public trust.

I predicted some days ago that getting my non-communicating “smart” printer talking to my PC again would probably cost more than buying a new printer. In fact, it cost me four cans of beer to a pal in exchange for his old laser printer which is not smart and has no desire to talk to any other electronic device but simply plugs in and prints.

Some stories never go away. How many times have you seen reports that painless dentistry, a cure for cancer or limitless electricity “too cheap to meter” were just around the corner? To this hyper-optimistic list we must add this week's promise of a new Bill to cut EU red tape. Oh, really?

What happens next? I'm guessing Downing Street will appoint a red-tape tsar with several red-tape permanent secretaries and hordes of red-tape minions whose first task will be to carry out a full inventory of red tape which will be so enormous that a National Red Tape Library will be commissioned, planned and started before being shelved, owing to red tape.

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