Is the Brighton Politics Blogger too irreverent? Mr Pickwick thinks so

Brighton’s Mr Pickwick, Christopher Hawtree, has taken me and the tone of this blog to task.  Following a genial evening in the pub with Dan Wilson, he commented: “We agreed that the Election, so far, does not have a great deal of fun about it. Perhaps this is the nature of the times; perhaps it is the systems of campaigning; perhaps it’s the winter.  We also agreed that, in such fora as this one, it can seem the stuff of banter – predictions being akin to hoping to nudge pennies from a moving shovel in a Palace Pier arcade’s glass case – but in fact it is people’s lives: I came back yesterday evening, the mind full of sometimes harrowing stories heard on doorsteps or from people who had asked me in.  People sometimes jeer at Councillors as a bunch of freeloaders but I should say that in almost any area a Councillor who gives his or her time to it has quite a load. And, in the nature of things, that sort of work is not made public.”

Green Chris and Labour Dan are absolutely correct.  Politics is serious business.  The decision of the electorate will decide which party will dominate Brighton politics for the next four years, and the decisions of our new leaders will have an impact on the lives of hundreds and thousands of people.  As an activist, I too have heard many harrowing stories on the doorstep. I have seen how people’s lives can be blighted by a bad decision here, or improved by a good decision there.  A councillor who can work with officers to deal with a noise complaint can see an immediate improvement in the lives of neighbours. 

I have an ex who was a county councillor for a while and I am aware of how hard councillors do work and how much of what they do is unrecognised and unappreciated.  While I might take a light-hearted view of election campaigns, and make irreverent reference to Momma Grizzly, the Estate Agents, the Wise Owl and even Mr Pickwick, this blog aims to encourage interest in local politics.  Sometimes serious, more often light-hearted, I will continue in a similar vein unless enough of you ask me not to.

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6 Responses

  1. My ward has at least a dozen community/tenant associations and other forums that I attend as much as I can – with council and party meetings that means I rarely have a free evening (not that I am complaining – meeting and helping residents is about the best part of the job). Sometimes I get dozens and dozens of e-mails a day, sometimes I only get a few calls a week, but I think the rule of thumb is that the more deprived the ward, the greater the amount of casework. It is hugely rewarding when you can help people, immensely frustrating when you can’t.

    Yes, some of the cases stay with you (I’m thinking of some I encountered whilst working for Des Turner, as well as councillor casework). One recently, of a mum and two kids stuck in a council flat where her husband subjected her to domestic violence before killing himself. Imagine living inside those four walls.

  2. Do not give us crocodile tears of what a hard life cllrs have. It is a harder life when cllrs vote for budgets which lead to cuts. Enough of this, be consistent, show you are different and vote down all cuts. do not give us this self pitying stuff.
    All cuts hurt and when cllrs play games over cuts that hurts even more.

  3. I think, to follow on from Mr Morgan’s point, that most councillors, regardless of the party they represent, work hard.

    I also think that the media (which for some reason is regarded as public opinion, just because some public members are foolish enough to let it guide them) loves to focus on the negative aspects of public servants.

    For example,I am not a Tory, but I respect a number of their councillors as hard working people, and will not be upset if they are re-elected from a merely human perspective.

    Regardless of some of the(predictable) snipes that happen on this forum, i think some of those on the council will agree.

    As for the point Alf makes, I don’t think that Mr Morgan was suggesting we should weep for our public servants. I do think. however, we should afford them more respect. It is not an easy job.

    Some people talk about the cuts as though they are a purposeful meanness intended to cause distress to the public at large. Cuts will have to be made. It is the form of cuts that we all disagree on- inevitably.

    I think ‘irreverent’ is the correct term for this forum at times. I have no problem with it. Simply because, from what Mr Hawtree says, Councillors do care really, and I think rational people amongst us know this really. There is nothing wrong with banter. It covers a multitude of frustrations.

    I have a one of the best seats available at La Stade De Politic, but I am not one of the players on the pitch.I know a number of the players though, and I think some of them are better than others. I don’t like some of the tactics, and I think some of the games are dirty. However, the one thing that is not in doubt is the fact that, unlike those Premiership free loaders, this lot are not over paid. And they are certainly committed…..

  4. I was honoured to share a pint or Christopher Hawtree a few evenings back. But I’m not sure he’s a Mr Pickwick. Dickensian comparisons can get a bit tricky and I don’t want to end up as Mr Micawber or an Artful Dodger. ;o)

    I must say that I think humour and irreverance and satire and silliness is vital in politics. It would be unbearable otherwise.

    Carry on regardless, Bappy.

  5. Deference, deference, the bain of the working class. Well across the world such subserviance is being thrown off. Yers Cllrs should work hard to represent people on low pay, reduced benefits, poverty, stress, facing redundancies and experiencing cuts.
    Forgive me for not touching my forelock to cllrs. Get the point . You were elected to do a job but many have failed by voting or abstaining or planning cuts.
    So no I do not feel sorry for them. They chose to go for the limelight and many have failed.

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