Bridge ward monthly report 88

CO2 towers: disappointment as tower blocks for government offices are approved for construction next to the railway station, failing completely in the standards we should expect of modern buildings when tackling climate change. And despite a resolution to full Council on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

More agreeably, student flats and private rent apartments for west of Arkwright Street are agreed, but I had to intervene when no Section 106 money was to be paid. £100,000 will not be given to the public realm – in this case, the Memorial Gardens and play equipment for Arkwright Walk.

Audit committee reviewed the risks to the City Council of a hard Brexit (on 29th March at 11pm). Chief concern being staffing care services.
Parliament debated Brexit at length and got some stick for not being able to agree on anything. Yet the decision was taken away from them and Theresa May kept trying to stretch things out. We will need to find a way of knowing what kind of Brexit people voted for and a reconciliation process as part of Brexit, or as I hope, avoiding Brexit.

Joined 3 protests this month: for the railways, for Remain and against the cuts.

Pleased to attend Nottm Central Women’s Aid at their 7th AGM.
National Holocaust Day and surprise some parts of the Left still can’t get it right on anti-Semitism.  

Films on show this month were particularly strong, as they end to be in the UK in the run-up to the BAFTAs and Oscars.
Stan & OllieColetteThe FavouriteUn Amour ImpossibleNae PasaranThe Front RunnerMary Queen of ScotsRosa LuxemburgI’m Not Running.

Salop have a new manager, but are struggling in the League. Despite this, drew with Wolves in the FA Cup after sensationally coming from 2-0 behind to win at Stoke with 3 brilliant moves in 10 minutes.

I’m Not Running

Of course, what we say over here is “I’m not Standing”.
Watching this broadcast of a live play from London, I was riled at half-time. A would-be Labour star cos he’s good at polishing and presenting policy is incapable of explaining how New Labour was (then) introducing the largest hospital building programme in the country’s history.
But an interview with the playwright David Hare in during the interval, it became clear that he’d created a story to make some key points –
– that Labour should have elected a woman leader by now; and that while that case is made by presenting a less than fully capable man, my initial disappointment with the man being not good enough might simply be the point; (but did David Hare vote for Liz Kendall?);
– that his concern that people were too keen to celebrate single issue politics was not helped by the less than the best man representing party politics in a useless way;
– that health professionals had been undermined by efficiency initiatives (which won enthusiastic applause from some in the audience); but, beyond the fundamental political principle that people who spend public money should account for it, there was the trebling of spend on health under Labour and building new hospitals, some of the new initiatives did work well and millions could be saved by focus on use of operating theatres; we in essence got rid of the waiting list.
The play has only managed 3 star reviews; (one criticism – why does the advocate or women MP continue to be attracted to the careerist Labour MP?). I can understand that the playwright was trying to avoid the issues that come with Corbyn as leader, and Brexit – to which he probably needed to set in 1997 – 2015.
3 of the play’s characters are. very appealing and enjoyable to watch – most particularly, the spin doctor! And one very special passage about learning to debate at university being about individuals holding the moral high ground and how unpleasant debate can be.

I went cos it featured Labour, it was by David Hare and it was an event -sold out at the Broadway. But kinda new I would be disappointed.
(2 stars; e:3 (for the second half), s:2, p:3; Guardian; Standard; no wiki page)

A Streetcar named Desire

Blanche DuBois is something to listen to; that sense of strong personal values and another world. But broken by life, by men and perhaps by alcohol. And having read Tennessee Williams‘ family story, a heart-breaking final scene as people gently coax her to leave her sister’s home for consignment. (Otherwise, his play is too cruel.)
This small stage production limits the lead actor’s arena but not her performance (wow!); giving more credibility to Blanche’s world view (and less camp) than the more famous productions.
I’d say go see, but it is already sold out. (e:4, s:4, p:4).
(BTW, nice new seats in the Lace Market Theatre.)

Mary Queen of Scots

A worthwhile re-telling of a much rehearsed story of rivalry between Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth of England.
Critical reception is not good, but seeking to outdo Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson is a heck of a challenge. Especially without the budget for crowds and showing places like medieval Carlisle properly (rather than as an isolated castle with no town).
Historical criticisms of the film include – Elizabeth and Mary never met (yep, a dramatic device), the friendship of Elizabeth and Mary is overstated, Elizabeth would not have wept as shown (can agree), Mary would have spoken with a French accent (kinda wish part of learning a language was learning to mimic the accent, so not sure); and “the tagline attached to a poster of Mary reads “born to fight”, while the tagline attached to the poster of Elizabeth reads “born to power” … it should really be the other way around”; indeed Simon Schama’s tv history was critical of Mary’s political skills.
(3 stars; e:4, s:3, p:3); Wiki; Guardian.

Unreasonable social media

“You need to know next to nothing to propagate Nazi or Soviet Jew-hating propaganda, reframed to fit today’s narrative, which spreads like wildfire, and is dangerous. But you need to know nearly everything in order to combat it.”
Rachel Riley, reported in the Jewish Chronicle.
Riley put out her opinions on anti-semitism, and had to face some fury.
Even someone as politically experienced as Owen Jones, has tried to compete on how much he is a victim of being attacked for standing against anti-Semitism (to which Riley says “I call BS” cos he’d suggested she triggers hostile responses), rather than seek common ground.

I’ve put out a modest support comment for my MP.
I’ve had to challenge in comments that suggested I was simple and used a photo of a man that suggested what a simple man might look like, then , whether land sales in The Meadows are legitimate, and now, whether I’m getting a share of land sales.  
“Not enough writers” said Siouxsie Sioux, and in the world of Facebook, we know why.

Salop can’t hold out against Wolves

Two excellent goals without having the possession, against a tier 1 football club, and 20 minutes to hold out.
But it couldn’t be done as Salop couldn’t stop Wolves crossing from the right wing and there were too many to not make mistakes against.

The second Salop goal came after the manager sent the corner taker a note. The resultant cross led to a stooped power header in the six yard box converted in a style akin to Manchester City in January 1979.
Slightly bizarre to see the glory of it all diminished by protests of the ref awarding 6 minutes added time; but the ref had been wise to extended time wasting by Salop, especially our goalkeeper who otherwise had an excellent game. Indeed, they kinda all did – the FA Cup and the motivation of playing tier 1 players bringing out something special. Just kinda want it in the league.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

6 short stories from the “west” brought together to make one longish film.
Surprising stories, sad stories, a vindicated story and one which I didn’t quite get. Understated, polite, oh and violent. Some memorable moments.
By the Coen brothers, so some shame on me for not seeing it when not was screened. Go see – except you might have to wait a while.
(4 star; e:4, s:4, p:4.). Wiki. Guardian.

Grievances and conciliation

Those of us who were old enough remember the term ACAS – Arbitration, Conciliation and Advisory Service, created to bring entrenched adversaries with grievances together to resolve a dispute. They were always on the news.

Regarding the outcome of the referendum, well we’ve all got grievances – 
People who wanted out as quick as possible had their case muddied by saying we’d soon negotiate a deal with the EU;
People who who voted out but never imagined doing so without deals had their case muddied by those who wanted out without one. 
Then there were those who wanted out, but not to lose the Customs Union.
And who truly wanted a solution that would upset the peace deal in Northern Ireland?
Meanwhile those who wanted to Remain have grievances too – that the other side bent the spending rules; that getting David Cameron out took precedence; that a promise was made on NHS spending that can’t be fulfilled; that people were frightened about Turkey (next to Iraq and Syria) might be joining the EU; the we could keep the benefits we’d had from being inside the EU, from outside.
And everyone says these grievances will fester if we don’t do something.

And then people say – oh they should sort it out.
One process is to hold the referendum again. Time is such that we’d need either the EU27 to offer an extension on the grounds of holding a referendum, and understanding that there has been some changes in opinion, that the electorate has change with more Leave supporters passing away than Remain, and more decisively, that young people will turn out next time.
Now that people are now for Remain ought to be enough for another referendum. But it risks leaving people with a very deep grievance based on the idea that you keep calling referendums until you get the result you want. This is addressable, and the scale of the grievance is debatable.
But could the ambition for a further referendum be higher than just getting a new result?

Well, it’s going to need a process to sort it out, that involves the people again.
A process whereby the evidence is reviewed by an assembly of the public and the options considered before presented in a revised referendum, as happened in Ireland and now advocated by Gordon Brown who says – “The handling of the Irish abortion referendum is evidence of the power and potential of citizens’ assemblies. It could have been a bitter and toxic debate dominated by extremists on both sides. But in part because a representative group – half initially pro-abortion, half against – talked the issues through, exploring differences, asking questions of experts and interacting with each other on their fears and hopes, they managed to defuse the controversies. And they found common ground between devout faith and resolute feminism in an outcome that astonished the world and that everyone accepted.”

An assembly to work out the options and review the evidence, could inform and design a multi-optioned referendum.
From that I would hope that everyone gets their chance to vote for an option close to what they want – probably
a) out as quick as possible before any trade deals;
b) out once trade deal with EU is agreed (cos the interim backstop offends too many over NI);
c) something like Corbyn’s latest suggestion with deals negotiated and a customs union cos at the very least, there’s no threat to the NI border; and
d) remain cos the case wasn’t fairly considered.
And if the result of that is that Remain wins, but without a 50% share, then we will have to consult again without the least popular option to see if an option gets 50%; and if necessary again. until we are down to 2 options;
And if it’s complicated, well, the decision before us complicated, and we’ll make more progress if the people have taken a clear decision about what it is they wanted.  

Don’t we elect MPs to sort things out? Yes we do, but we bypassed them with a referendum.
I don’t condemn MPs who have they own views – we elect them for their opinions, and often punish them if they don’t appear to be consistent – but they’re stuck cos it’s not clear what people who voted Leave actually voted for. Some assumed a deal; some assumed not.

We can just have a further referendum, but we might do better to make it part of reconciliation process where we understand and present the issues more effectively.

BBC political coverage and bias

David Dimbleby won an award at a National Television Awards event broadcast in front of an audience that had been whooping and hollering for soap stars and game show hosts, and used his speech in part to say he admired politicians cos they had a difficult job and were doing their best, but perhaps should genuinely answer questions with their own personal views. And his opportunity to keep asking questions was the thing that mattered most.
I may have missed it, but I didn’t hear the references to inform, educate and entertain. Not all of Reith‘s values were that great – he kinda admired Hitler and Mussolini and was a Conservative – but he did demonstrate a strong desire for the BBC to be independent of government, most famously during the 1926 general strike when he tried to get the views of trades unions, labour leaders and church people broadcast, and was blocked.
Despite this determination to be independent, he still became a Conservative MP. And a major problem with the BBC’s news and politics coverage is that its leading reporters and presenters are Conservatives, and / or from a very narrow snd privileged background. Cos of his dad, Dimbleby was presenting from the age of 12.
Looking at the current batch, except for Andrew Marr, well known for being Conservatives: Laura Kuenssberg (placing Nick Robinson), Andrew Neil, Evan Davies (replacing Jeremy Paxman) and now Fiona Bruce – a picture of whom wearing a blue rosette (which is downloaded from social media, so some caution – really not sure it is a Conservative rosette) has been circulated following a controversy over her treatment of Diana Abbott on Question Time, for which the BBC have partly apologised (the unfair challenge over opinion polls, not the suggestions of racism).
A Guardian correspondent claims Question Time’s director shifted the show to be more controversial a year or so ago, and makes five suggestions how it can be improved – calm the audience down, fairer chairing, mind the setting plan, scrutinise the directing and embrace the boring – well, maybe so, it misses bigger points.
(BTW, I wonder what the suggestions would be for Daily Politics and A Week in Politics, where a guest (a rock star) sat in bewilderment as Neil and his sofa experts did a silly dance to music.)
The BBC reporting of the employment figures – the highest for decades, whilst unemployment rate being the lowest for 40 years – was bouncy and enthusiastically sold. All at odds with the social security having to be paid out (even on a much more restricted set of criteria), the lump or gig economy meaning people don’t earn enough or in a regular enough manner (and so we get reports from local schools of the increase in problems young children are presenting).
It disappoints me so that with the onset of information technology, our ability to understand what’s really happening has got worse.
BBC political coverage will continue to struggle with its approach and Conservative and class background. And with journalists who look down on politics and politicians.
So what would my Reithian approach be?
Inform, Educate and Entertain – OK, but find a framework by which those tests can be measured, and have some kind of unit that evaluates and publishes the evaluation. Embrace Orwell’s values on condemning barbarity in writing. Give a framework to questions geared testing advocates and their plans for ambition, planning, performance, capability, capacity, culture and legitimacy. Value and celebrate politics – its existence is the signal of living in a free society – so that people do want to watch it. And then require much more of what government at all levels does through services and projects so that there is more of value to report.
And yes, it would be good if politicians changed to this mode too.