Cuppa and Cake with the Councillors

Cancelled Hustings

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway?

I remember Susan Jeffers book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway having a great influence on me many years ago. I no longer have it, it’s one of the many books I lent out, never to return. I hope it’s travelled well.

I do think it’s about time local politics took heed of this message? Most definitely where I live. The fear of being criticised, of being recorded, of being asked a tricky question is silencing democracy in my opinion. And in that silencing it’s distancing itself from the very people it intends to serve, and hopes to win the vote of.  It’s killing itself, and not softly either. 

Take the organisation of our local hustings, or cuppa with councillors and candidates as we called it locally, as an example.

We are seeking to build a more powerful community, and as well as doing more things together, that also includes taking a greater interest in those who are elected to serve us. What better way to do that than invite all candidates over for a cuppa, to meet residents, have a chat and answer some questions, in a facilitated and warm environment. Really playing into the local Labour Councillors hands to be fair. Given, that only they have a track record in the area, and we’ve recently distributed a magazine to every resident containing lots of examples of how the female councillor has supported, and, been thanked by the local community. (The two current male Labour councillors are standing down for the May elections). The magazine also demonstrates how the new female Labour candidate has shown an interest in getting to know the area and groups. 

But, powers that be, which seems to be the men that control the local Labour party, said no. And, when you get down to the bottom of the reason why – it’s coated in fear (with a strong dollop of power and control). We’ve had mixed messages as to where this decision was made, some say Town Hall legal, others say regional Labour Party. 

What we know for sure is the local Labour Party has scored an own goal here and lost more trust in Wigan West.  The Liberal Democrat candidates and the Conservative candidate didn’t even respond to the invitation. The Labour candidates were being gifted with an opportunity to shine, as well as demonstrating accountability to the local community. Even if the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives had turned up then residents would have been easily able to make their own minds up. The Liberal Democrats have campaigned locally on a single issue and the Conservative candidate would need a sat nav to find us. 

Instead, we have a local election approaching were the message is – be silent, unless you’re in a ward that might be at risk. And Labour leaflets that may as well be campaigning for the general election as there’s nothing local in them at all. All stage managed by a group of men. 

This is not democracy, and it’s not good enough for the citizens of Wigan West.  


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