Saturday, July 18, 2009

Telling It How It Is

I shared a platform last week with the famously mouthy civil servant Louise Casey. You may remember her for ASBOs and her desire to convicts wearing bright jackets on community serice.

And no she hasn't changed. Go hear her if you get the chance. Not only because she has enormously interesting things to say - but also because of how she will make you feel.

Casey is unusual not for her views (she sounds like a lot of the people I meet on the doorstep) but for the fact that she is willing to state them within the elite policy community in which she operates. Views which many of us express and share privately - but wouldn't share in public for fear of looking `bad' or out of step with the prevailing elite-view.

And it is this disjunction between the elite-set terms of public debate and what most people feel that concerns Casey the most. As public servants (in the broadest sense) we often do not, she says, comfortably reflect or express the public's views or concerns in what we do.

This has taken us to a point where many of the public feel that things such as the Human Right Act are there to protect other people, that the only way to lose a job these days is to say something deemed `racist' and that public bodies care about arcane, politically correct agendas- equality,rights and `elf and safety' more than actually helping them.

Watching someone like Louise Casey speak made me realise, thunderbolt-style, just how contricted much of our public discoure actually is. How unfree and self-censoring we actually are. And I decided there and than to follow her lead and take even more risks when on a platform - even if this means fewer invitations to speak or write.

3 comments:

Mark Griffiths 'ideally speaking...' said...

Craig, there is undoubtedly a gulf between what 'ordinary' people think and say and what our elected and administrative officials reflect. And it's a good thing, too. Were things to be otherwise, and the raw public had their say, we'd have everything from vigilante gangs roaming the streets rooting out gays and paedophiles and the re-introduction of hanging and public birching and other forms of humilation directed at minorities and people other than ourselves. Witch-hunts, in other words. A bit like they have in Kenya and other less developed countries like America. Let's remember that the term 'political correctness' was a term invented by the right wing as a weapon with which to beat left wingers. In the end, people split two ways - you either believe in society, with all the compromises this entails, or you don't. If you believe in society, there is no such thing as political correctness, but only an agenda to respect and protect the vulnerable and the minorities from mass abuse and persecution. If you do believe that political correctness exists and is just there to protect others and keep you and yours down, then you simply don't care about anybody but yourself. Which defines you, ultimately, as right wing. When Margaret Thatcher said there was no such thing as society, this is what she had in mind. And now, too many people believe her. Yet her followers can now point to a 'broken Britain' - one they created. Sometimes, I think we're fighting a losing battle in this country. We have the worst record in Europe on just about anything in this country. The majority does not believe in society or the benefits of being a collective. Unfortunately, these are the same people who fly the Union Jack and talk about the loss of British identity.

Rob Fountain said...

I agree with your comment Mark (he says as a softener to delivering a seemingly contrary point of view for the second time today!). However, I think plain speaking from an informed, responsible and reflective source is not to be discouraged. The directness I can envisage from Craig would not be thoughtlessly reflecting back what is heard on the doorstep, but actually giving a voice to the sorts of sentiments you express in your comment unconstrained by fear that the tabloid-reading masses - or party overlords for that matter - might not like hearing it. Do it Craig - just don't do it when you're feeling tired and unwell is my only counsel.

Andrew said...

Nice to share platform with others..Its sounds good..


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Andrew
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