Working through the crisis in systematic way

Across our neighbourhoods, or (in this 21st Century, I might more accurately say) extended networks, all kinds of people are making all kinds of arrangements to support each other when we are ill, or isolated, or socially distancing.
At times like these, people will be getting on with getting on.
And where they can’t, they will be looking to the NHS or the council or their social landlord or the emergency services to do what is necessary.
Including reporting neighbours who thought it was fun to have a street party yesterday to the Police.

Now as an elected representative, I feel this urge to do something more; and that people might expect it of me.
But the reality is people need a structured, organised and (dare I say it) a properly financed set of services to assist.
So I won’t be putting out any special leaflets to say I can help as an individual. Cos the systems should provide and I expect that of them.
Part of this is cos I don’t want to confuse any organised systems and messages.
And part of this is cos I might be carrying the virus and not know it.

What I can, should and do do is report failings in the systems set up to help.
I am going to expect that people know that I do that already.
Cos this ain’t the time to be trying to fix, or even make, reputations.

Meanwhile, my main political criticisms are –
1. if we are “at war”, all available capacity should be mobilised for a purpose through our public services; people no longer selling holidays, or serving in shops or on public transport, could be commissioned to help the public services; and others could be mobilised to keep their immediate neighbourhood looking neat (not litter or waste, obviously, but grass cutting and weeding);
2. councils should be told publicly that they are to receive finance to provide more capacity;
3. the economic packages should be emphasising funding people and consumer demand rather than financing businesses.

Your Choice, Your Voice and “Dragons’ Den” 2016

Thirty Meadows residents came to the Council’s consultation exercise on local priorities.
Followed by a “Dragons’ Den” exercise, where 20 representatives came forward to pitch their ideas for £100 of spend, having already submitted a formal written statement.

Save the NHS

IMG_6036b0200h ClN canvassing LGMP
Testimony as to why private insurance seen elsewhere in other countries can cause problems, concerns as to availability of GP appointments and demands that the NHS is saved.
Lilian Greenwood MP explained the nature of Labour’s pledge to use a new ‘mansion tax’ to fund extra nurses and doctors so that staff have time to care.


The new movie “Pride” evokes the 80’s and tells big political stories. History. Tales from our own time.
The miner’s strike.
Victimisation of gays.
Public health responses to HIV and AIDS.

Big tales of the time to tell, and the film does it well. Of personal suffering. Of victimisation. Of struggle. Of defeat, and of victory.
Perhaps too much at the expense of one family portrayed.
Perhaps too much of the other worldliness of South Wales – despite them dancing to the same disco music as the rest of the world – well, the women anyway.

Pride directed by Mathew Warchus
But some great humour. A favourite scene – a Welsh gay, returning home after many years, and pretending to be from Rhyl. No – we won’t have that – not someone from North Wales. A wind-up, masterfully executed.
And an excellent, triumphant end, with some sadness.
Authentic. Makes you think about the value of making bigger demands in politics.
Reminds you of some of the events of the time at work and in Nottingham.
One tiny moan. Celebrating the NUM driving the Labour Party conference to adopt gay rights. But no mention of the New Labour government passing the legislation that was sought.


Personal favourites of 2013

    “debating” Tories;
    celebrating science on the awards of freemen of the city;
    talking green technology and the “curve index” at Planning Cttee.;
    blankets of daisies at Colwick Park;
    making a snow frog;
    the busier community events;
    the carnival parade;
    flyovers by the Red Arrows, announcing Armed Forces Day in June and the Ashes in July;
    writing a guide to buses for Henry Blofeld;
    Sue’s personal record half-marathon time;
    sharing a car with Lord Mayor’s Consort on the “Magic Mouse”;
    realising Meadows in Bloom had come joint second at the national awards in Cleethorpes;
    Julianna Oprea’s first exhibition;
    the large sculptures at Chatsworth House;
    Coventry city centre;
    John Otway’s movie premiere;
    radical histreh and the re-dedication of the commemoration of the Notts volunteers for the International Brigades;
    talking to the Charlie Peace production about Narrowmarsh;
    “Wipers Times”, “The Challenger”, “Bluestone 42”, “The Mimic”;
    Peter Hook & the Light playing “Ceremony” at Splendour 2013;
    Joe Jacobson’s screamer against Sheff U.;
    Ruby Doh’s wit hitting back at critics – “@raymond_blanc ‘- i don’t care if you’re a patisserie king – don’t be an idiot.”

NUT rally in Nottingham against the blitzkrieg inspections

Pleased to join the NUT rally yesterday.
Experience from twelve years as a Chair of a secondary school, where we saw results improve through increased investment, reform, understanding what makes good education and knowing when inspections are designed to help, leaves me in no doubt that these inspections have alternative motives.
Graham Allen MP calls the inspections a “blitzkrieg”;
The Nottingham Post says “Nottingham isn’t a dead-end city full of poor schools and no-hope kids.
We must not fail our kids, our teachers and our schools by condoning a new inspection system –
– that is not prepared to understand the challenges that helping those most in need brings;
– that is run by private companies who will not give assurances about the experience of school leadership, or even teaching, that their inspectors have;
– that is run by companies who can then play a role in running a school they declare as wanting.
We can do better.

Tilting against PISA

Even though I enjoyed my own recent appearance on a kind of question time, I do find the format promotes jousting rather than building up understanding.
Take BBC’s Question Time and the most extraordinary assertion by a right-wing pundit that it doesn’t matter what the PISA tests are, only where the UK came in them.
Mary Beard : everything we see of these politicians being mesmerised by these PISA [league] tables is completely bonkers … how many people have looked at the questions in these tests?
Nick Ferrari : what does it matter, we came 25th, what does it matter!
On top of the huge increase in spending on education by the last Labour government, we have done so much to develop our understanding of education.
Now we must do more to improve the wider understanding.
Otherwise we risk the quality of education in this country.

Two years progress report

“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” ― Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan was wrong; there are limits, it’s never just a matter of will.
But seeking credit for change that is invariably delivered in co-operation with others is time-consuming and a distraction.
Even if you are pleased with a handrail that was installed.
So the point of progress reporting is two-fold; boosting accountability and prompting reflection on what needs to be done next.
Two years ago today, I signed on as the new city Councillor for Bridge ward.
20131021-121002.jpg 20131021-121022.jpg 20131021-121042.jpg
The three graphics (select to read expanded version) show some personal achievement, a story of progress for the city centre and The Meadows, and a challenges page (which I haven’t quite managed to fully populate yet).
20131021-121737.jpgBut the challenges are even more understated, cos in this format, they cannot state strongly enough that –

    local jobs not going to sufficiently local people, and work becoming more insecure and piecemeal hits at people’s ability to bring on family and home;
    cuts in social security for the poorest (whilst the rich get tax cuts) will cause problems in health and other social issues, as well as delaying the recovery;
    cuts in support to local government is killing opportunities to do more, and to no avail – austerity isn’t working.

For a fuller write-up see –

Andy says

From the Guardian

“We’re the professional politician generation, aren’t we? I was schooled in this, kind of, how do we make a press release today that embarrasses the opposition? That’s the kind of politics that everyone was doing, and the kind of culture developed where you’re scrabbling over a bit of the centre ground with micro-policies that are designed to just create a little couple of days’ headlines and create a feeling, but not change much else.”

The Guardian portrays it as wanting to shout louder.

But I hope it is as an appeal to say bigger things, not louder.

And not to say things to the tune of “Ring a ring, a roses”.