This Labour Government- slouching towards a massacre no later than June 2010– is like any other government, only maybe more so. Deeply suspicious of the population, unwilling to tell anyone what’s going on [treating them like sheeple], and more and more up to its neck in alligators when it (says it) wanted to drain the swamp.
So, people opposing it, and its assault on civil liberties, should be trying to do the opposite, right? Telling folks what is going on, encouraging them to make links of their own rather than wait for Salvation?
I went to the Manchester “Convention of Modern Liberty” event this morning. I should still be there, but instead I am here at home, smashing my fingers into the keyboard in frustration.
The event programme looked a little passive for my liking- large chunks of time spent watching a bunch of the great and good pontificate in London, rather than figuring out what we are going to do, here, now, hearing about local successes, failures, challenges, lessons learnt. But still, a joined-up national conference is a worthwhile venture, and you got to dance with the one that brung you, so I sat there. And sat there.
10am came and went and we were supposed to be watching video link of pontificators.
No announcement of welcome, apology for delay or -crucially- explanation of what was going on.
A few more minutes and then I went up to the front.
Me: “While we’re waiting, can I encourage people [the room had filled up, but everyone was in rows, subdued] to talk to the people behind them?”
Chap struggling with a laptop: “For what purpose exactly?”
I was a little gob-smacked at that. Surely events like these should be about creating new networks, stronger weak ties? Or do the organisers imagine that everyone who attends will fall in serried ranks behind them and they’ll then somehow magically storm the Winter Palace?
Anyway, permission granted, I gave a little spiel, and a fair proportion of people did indeed start talking to those behind them, or alongside them, and energy levels raised a bit.
And still we waited. No apology (and there were circumstances beyond the organisers control- the venue hadn’t opened early enough for them). No welcome. Nothing.
If that’s how No2ID treats potential members/volunteers, then I weep.
So I walked out. That’s the law of two feet in action.
P.S. The frogs reference? Well, climate change and the erosion of civil liberties are both things that don’t Happen Overnight. We aren’t going to go to sleep one night in perfect liberty and wake up in a fascist regime. It is a slow chipping away, a steady erosion, where each new restriction seems not worth the effort to resist. Like, as the environmentalists are wont to point out, the frog: throw it in boiling water and it jumps right out. Put it in water of comfortable temperature and slowly raise the heat and the thing will just sit there, till it boils.
UPDATE: Reading through the Feb 23-March 1st edition of “The Big Issue in the North”- an excellent publication- I learn that “The convention is here so people can find others with similar concerns. And it’s designed so that people can find groups campaigning in the area that concerns them and find things that they can go away and do.”
Well, that may well be what the organisers aspired to, but they didn’t begin as they meant to continue. Maybe it all got better later. I have my doubts.