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.