links for 2008-03-30

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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15 Responses to links for 2008-03-30

  1. ross says:

    “only about a hundred people (compared to around 1,500 at a similar march in Bexley a few weeks ago), and a good number of those were politicians keen to prove how much they wanted to ‘save our hospital’ (is there an election coming up or something?!)”

    sue of course, not being a politician herself

  2. ross says:

    and is that sian berry, green party candidate for london mayor i see in the two pictures sue posted up alongside her report, nice to see her taking an interest in issues affecting our borough

    there’s not an election coming or something is there?

  3. Sue Luxton says:

    I was including myself in the politicians seeking election and yes, that was Sian Berry! Seriously though, it felt like about 70% of the people there were from one political party or the other, plus a few union people and a number of people from the pensioners’ forum. There was no groundswell of opposition from Lewisham residents, which leads me to think that either people don’t know what is being proposed, or think their views will be ignored and it is a waste of their time.

  4. ross says:

    this is probably down to no actual hard work being put in on the ground in the run up to this

    people may be aware of the issue and they may not care or they may not be aware of the issue at all – either way holding headline grabbing rallies in parks without committing the groundwork beforehand to make people aware or to argue the points against PFI (which is essentially what this all comes down to) is always going to end up with a high proportion of self interested politicos being present, each battling against each other more than for the community

    although i guess doorstepping in places like milford towers and the like don’t offer quite the same headling grabbing, sunny day out, vote winning, photo opportunities that rallies in parks do

    from an oppositional point of view from what i heard we had labour, people from the greens obviously, the swp’s laughable left list/left party, the socialist party and south london solfed there, i wonder how many of those present in these groupings actually done any groundwork in the run up to this, or did they just all turn up on the day and then, as politicians usually tend to do, blame the public for their own failings in getting the message across

  5. Sue Luxton says:

    I think that’s a little harsh Ross. There certainly was a lot of hard work put in before the march, but it was the usual case of a small number of people doing a huge amount; in this case members of the Greenwich and Lewisham Pensioners’ Forums. I think they did an excellent job in a short time and managed to get considerable publicity for the march in advance, including the front page of the Mercury.

    I think you’re also somewhat over-estimating the capacity of local political parties to activate their membership and the wider population. Political party membership ain’t what it once was (though ours is rising) and with limited resources and an election coming up, they have to decide whether to spend an hour delivering 200 newsletters, or knocking on doors and speaking to approx 10 people.

    Similarly, I’d question how much time elected politicians can realistically be expected to spend ‘building for a demo’, in addition to all the other pressures on their time. Using the Council health scrutiny process to examine the proposals, and using the media to convey their concerns are arguably more effective uses of a local politician’s limited time.

    It would have been nice to see more people on the march, but all the same if it hits the headlines of the local paper then all us placard-waving politicos and the pensioners will have helped raise awareness of the issue to far more people than if we had spent a few hours door-knocking, be it in Milford Towers or Blackheath Village.

    It’s easy to scoff from the sidelines, but if people want to see more dynamic and active local political parties, then they need to get involved to help make it happen.

    One final point, no one was ‘blaming the public for the turnout’ – I was a bit disappointed in the turnout, but that’s not the same at all.

  6. ross says:

    well i live about 5mins away from the park and did not receive one leaflet about the event (let alone a doorknock) from any of the politicos present at the march, so i guess all the hardwork that was put in by the respective politicos that you refer to, did not cover the immediate area of the vicintiy of the demonstration – however you’d think even from a tactical point of view this immediate area would have been a core area of focus (at least in terms of leafletting) given how easy it would be for those in that area to walk 5mins down the road to it

    i agree on the point that in the main these kind of demos are largely inefectual puff exercises for both the politicos concerned and for the authorities to show what a nice liberal place we all live in, however the only reason i raised it was in relation to your apparent disappointment in the turnout, i was only pointing out some of the reasons why that turnout would have been disappointing, not making a value call on the point of the thing in the first place – and i agree that more productive methods of fighting these things come from things other than traditional A to B marches

    in terms of hitting the headlines of the local papers, it had hit the headlines of the papers before the march anyway given the mercury’s backing of the campaign, and in addition high profile opposition to the plans from the like of bullock also helps ensure it gets front page news, so i guess it’s debatable how much more A to B events like this add to be honest

    out of interest though sue, given the greens have 3 councilors in each of the two wards close to the hospital, did the full 6 councilors come out in force on saturday on behalf of their constituents, or was it only the ones who were needing much needed publicity in the run up to the elections who made it?

  7. are you sure you’re qualified to lecture others on how to stage successful protests, Ross? 😉

  8. Sue Luxton says:

    3 of us were there only one of whom (me) is standing in the forthcoming election, 3 had other commitments, plus of course Sian Berry and a number of our party members from Greenwich and Lewisham were there. There were also a fair number of Lib Dems, including their Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick a number of Labour councillors (and 2 MPs), both the Socialist councillors and, as you mentioned the political party previously known as RESPECT. Tories were somewhat notable by their absence, in contrast to the Sidcup demo, but then I guess there are more of them there than here (and not many of us made it to the Sidcup demo).

    I’m sure Greenwich & Lewisham Keep our NHS Public and the Pensioners’ Forums would welcome any help you’re able to give them with delivering leaflets about future events :).

  9. Sue Luxton says:

    and I forgot to say that the Mayor, Steve Bullock was there too! End of role call!

  10. Sue Luxton says:

    or should that be roll call?!

  11. ross says:

    one of the political parties previously known as respect!

    with that assembled roll call of self interested politicos it’s no surprise the bulk of the general public (like the other 3 green councilors) found themselves with other commitments

    i would have been happy to help deliver leaflets in my area (not necassirly about the march itself, but drawing people’s attention to the sham consultation process and the effect that PFI deals previously entered into in relation to some of these hospitals has had on the available options)

  12. Sue Luxton says:

    Excellent, give Frances Hook from Greenwich Pensioners’ Forum and Keep our NHS Public a ring on 020 8853 2567 – I’m sure she’d be grateful for any help you are able to give her with the campaign and as her number is already in the local newspaper articles, hopefully she won’t mind it being put on here too.

    Ross, I suspect local cllrs would have been in the wrong in your books whatever they had done – if we hadn’t turned up you would probably have said we weren’t responding to local concerns, when we do turn up we are just self-interested. Most people on that march were acting at least in part out of self-interest, as anyone who lives in the 4 boroughs affected has an interest in preventing cuts to services. I don’t think you should draw too much from which cllrs were/weren’t there – people lead busy lives, cllrs have ward surgeries on Saturday mornings and family commitments etc the same as everyone else does.

  13. Ross says:

    sue, as i’ve already said my points to you do not make a value judgement either way on the effectiveness or otherwise of such tactics, my questions directed to you in relation to whether the other green councilors dragged themselves along to the march/demo or not were only asked because i thought if you, as a green party representative, were expressing disappointment at the general public for not turning up it would have been a tad unfair to do so when not even a full contingent of local councilors from your own party (who represent said public), who i assume live very close by to ladywell park, could be bothered to come along

    (and i don’t want to drag this into even more pedantry, but a quick glance of lewisham life reveals that ladywell councilors hold surgeries on the 2nd, 3rd & 4th saturdays of the month with brockley councilors holding theirs on the 2nd & 4th saturdays of the month, so as the demo itself was on the 5th saturday of the month, i’m not sure what the relevance of councilor’s surgeries are in the context of this discussion)

  14. Sue Luxton says:

    I think we are going round in circles here – the Green councillors who didn’t come to the demo all had very good reasons why they couldn’t be there, but I’m not about to go into them on here; they are entitled to private lives. We don’t employ a whipping system for demo attendence any more than we do votes in Council meetings!

    Once again, I wasn’t blaming anyone for not turning up at the demo, merely suggesting that lots of people in the borough aren’t aware of what is being proposed. My blog post made that quite clear, even if Andrew’s labelling of it didn’t. Surgeries were given as an example of many things cllrs might be doing on a Saturday, but the 5th Saturday of the month would not be a good day to choose to have surgeries, if you wanted more than a few a year!

  15. ross says:

    indeed, hence my wondering why it was brought up in relation to them not being able to attend said demo

    anyroads, on another note it was pleasing to see Nick ‘rape is a myth’ Eriksen thoroughly embarass his party (the bnp) with his ever so progressive comments about women, which led to him being kicked out of the elections

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