Preferring the chase
July 14, 2012 1 Comment
I had meetings on the first three nights of this week that neatly sum up my experience so far as a councillor, versus hope for what type of councillor I want to be.
I have spent so long campaigning that to finally find myself elected was to some extent anti-climactic. I certainly attracted opprobrium from at least one dear friend who felt that I should have been more grateful for the opportunities that being elected should afford me. I am not sure I was ungrateful, but my sometime cynical nature was bearing abundant fruit during the first few weeks post-election.
To be honest my first impressions, still somewhat present, are of life as a councillor being trapped in long meetings or wading through mounds of paperwork, or dealing with an ever-increasing email inbox; powerless to achieve anything that could meaningfully be described as change.
I am not just looking to rage against the machine; I put a belief in democracy above my socialism. This means accepting that I hold minority views on many things in my corner of Essex, and thus my wants will quite often be unfulfilled ambitions. However, being in a minority does not mean one is necessarily wrong (although I know I cannot be right about everything) and I certainly see myself attempting to champion the causes of those who would otherwise be voiceless.
It is important, in my opinion, that those in opposition do challenge those who rule.
I want to be a different type of councillor. There are fifty-one of us in Southend-on-Sea, and fifty falling in line with accepted norms is plenty enough as far as I am concerned. I am not looking for a revolution, although a bit of boat-rocking would not go amiss, but I am determined to spend more time on doorsteps than I do in committee rooms. I want to be the perpetual activist.
My Monday night meeting was a more than three hour exercise in tedium punctuated by the occasional spell of boredom. The couple of really interesting bits of news are confidential at the moment, and so I cannot report on them.
Tuesday night was an information gathering exercise in London, and at less than half the duration of Monday’s was far more pleasant. Wednesday found me at a SKIPP meeting at the Royal Hotel, and as a meeting of activists looking to stop the madness that is the cliffs museum was a natural home for someone of my stripe. Finding out what residents actually want, rather than pontificating for the sake hearing one’s own voice, is what it should be about. It is what I want to be known for.
I have created a bit of a stir already, and I am not referring to the police investigation into an (unfounded) allegation of defamation against the English Democrats.
One group leader has already accused me of bullying and of being a threat to democracy. I certainly want to be a threat to complacency, although I have no stomach for bullying or bullies. This same group leader is hoping, it would appear, for the Borough Solicitor to haul me across the coals.
I accept that I can be pig-headed, and hot-headed. I realise that my ignorance may mean that I have offended protocol. I realise that my utterances at council meetings will be soporific for the many. But I do speak to people, and if to right what I see as a wrong I have to make a lot of noise and offend some then so be it.
If the emperor is naked then I am the one to tell him.