• John Woodman

Clean Out The Stables

John Woodman


With the almost deafening backdrop of daily reporting of missteps, misdeeds and arrogance seeping from under the doors of Number Ten Downing Street (official residence of this country's Prime Minister) allied to disclosures in US Courts of allegations against the privileged life of a leading Member of the Royal Family - it is hard if not impossible to raise a shard of sympathy for Boris Johnson and Prince Andrew. With the preceding overtures of a further privileged 'Royal' resident in California - Britain is enduring endless scrutiny around the world and emerging badly tarnished.


One can almost hear the smirks across the Channel and tut tutting across Europe. The loss of 'Great' in the nation's title is palpable. The Queen's 70th Anniversary of her Reign struggles to rise above the muck now being thrown around Westminster and the country's capital.


A once great political party squirms and wriggles away from the debacle which its Leader has presided over with tiring nods and winks to supporters stunned by a daily litany of damning headlines. Possibly the last time the country was so blindsided by its political class was in 1956 and the Suez intervention when even the US was minded to walk away from a Downing Street faux pas. Probably too far back for most readers to recall; but a seismic moment in the country's postwar struggle to remain at the top table of global events.


Westminster has got the wrong end of the stick on many occasions. In 1932 a Royal Commission pronounced that electric tramways were hindering progress and would not receive government support - with newly created London Transport Passenger Board putting the lid on tram development in the capital. The launch this year of the restored London County Council prototype car Number 1 which became the gravestone of tram development in 1932 captures the dead end thinking of a metropolitan elite - for far too long allowed to run amok with national policymaking,


Local Pride : A Blackpool shop front with its family owners standing by their work,

Image : John Woodman Archive


Calls to move the nation's capital northward to York - gains ever more credence amid these distressing times. London continues to dominate the nation's course; assuring ever greater imbalance beginning with the economy, while dominating arts and culture. Acknowledgement of the damage being done to once great towns and cities in the north of England is grudgingly being noted as central government departments and agencies are being slowly dispersed away from the wealth laden Home Counties. Resplendent Civic buildings once overseeing vibrant confident communities on both sides of the Pennines now stand amid shoals of bland low end commercial strips while local utilities, transport and infrastructural assets are hived off to the ownership of third party profit hungry robber barons domiciled in anonymous tax haven offices.


The social contributions of earlier generations securing sustained local improvements in libraries, schools, public works, parks and importantly - in meaningful employment are now isolated islands of faith in their communities. The great work of the Cadbury's and many other likeminded families have been hived off to offshore investment groups lacking concern or interests beyond dividends and their ivory tower firewalls. Locally the Fylde coast retains examples from the great era of 'Great Britain' - Beaverbrooks, Lofthouse Family and Fisherman's Friend, the Owning family now caring for the three Blackpool Piers; Blackpool Council (yes Blackpool Council) and its ownership of the 'arms' length' Blackpool Transport Company among other important public assets; the longstanding family ownership of Blackpool Pleasure Beach Company which goes from strength to strength against increasing odds. In nearby Warton BAE Systems reinvests in avionics and space technology systems as a standout private sector anchor company. Together with countless other smaller business owners taking pride in their community with the many centres of education and research are nurturing tomorrow's generations facing challenges through the 21st century. At least this one northern part of England is holding its own in a period of national malaise.


Back to the nation's capital (for the moment) - its time to clean out the stables.

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