The Bickerstaffe Record
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The world beyond West Lancashire

The debate of the proles

02.26.09 | 2 Comments

First I tackled my fear of demos

Now to tackle my almost total aversion to going to debates hosted by famous people to be talked at.   I come to it in the context of the really quite good plans by the Labour Representation Committee for a Day of Action on 22 April, co-inciding with budget day, at which lots of people will ask, noisily: ‘Where’s our bailout’ as a launch to a wider ‘Their Crisis, Not Ours’ campaign.

 It’s all a bit London-focused, you could argue, but the budget is in London so I can live with it, as I know there’s a commitment to regionalise other actvities.

My sticking point is the ‘debate’ planned for the evening at which, to quote the site:

We will hold a Question Time event at a venue soon to be confirmed which will be chaired by John McDonnell MP and be addressed by a range of experts, activists and high-profile figures who will answer your questions as to how we got into this mess.’

If I’m honest, my heart sank when I saw this – another thing at which I could be told stuff I know already, sometimes in a good more detail than the ‘high-profile’ figures talking down to me.  But I resisted the urge to shout at the screen:

‘Oh, just fuck right off, with your Question Fucking time with your High-Fuckin’ Profile Fuckin’ celebrities, who’ve only fucking read the same fucking books and documents as I fucking have, and often understand less about it all, at the very fucking least at the level of emotional fucking intelligence.  You fuckers!’

Instead, I composed and sent the following, somewhat more composed message:

‘Looks well organised etc. Well done.

Can I suggest some flipping round of the 7.30pm debate. To be honest, I get a bit tired of attending meetings where I get the ‘honour’ of asking a question, and then the ‘high-profile’ people answer me, or not, sometimes a bit patronisingly, sometimes more fully, but never entirely to my satsifaction, because nothing comes of it, expect that I know the opinion of a high-profile person a bit more than I did, but not that much because I can read and know what they think anyway because I read it before I came out to the meeting.

I know I’m kind of going to agree with John McDonnell, for example, anyway, so what does that really do for me? or for others, who are not listening to my question anyway, because they are focused on their own question scribbled in the margins of the agenda and profile of the high-profile people which was carefully prepared before we all arrived?

So let’s flip it round. Let’s get the low-profile people in groups, with the high-profile people in to listen and take notes, and let’s let the low-profile groups to work out what they want the high-profile people to use their high-profile and concomitant institutional resources to do for us, the low-profile people.

The end of the meeting should be a series of actions that the high-profile people have agreed to undertake on behalf of the low-profiles (sometimes just called the proles) and when and how they are going to report back.

How about it?’

I don’t know if I’ll get a reply.  I’m a prole, you see?

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