From the Sublime to the Totally Unhelpful

A week ago “A Climate Movement in Manchester? Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so” was unleashed on a grateful world.

Almost all the feedback, such as it was, was positive. Which is nice. The lone dissenting voice so far described it (not to the author, but to people the author knows) as “totally unhelpful”.

Totally unhelpful … how? Sadly, the oracle in question has been quite delphic, and so in the absence of any further steer from this seer, I guess we are just have to be creative concerning our interpretation of such gnomic wisdom.

Let’s try to be systematic. I see four ways hows ense can be made of this assessment.

Let’s start by assuming that Mr TU is claiming the post is unhelpful because it is inaccurate.

First up then, perhaps it is “totally unhelpful” because it is not correct about the civil society groups named.
Well, the author has been going to (all or bits of) many of the meetings and events of the groups described for three  long years, and has never ONCE seen Mr TU at any of them (only – ironically – at some of the ones the author has organised). This is not a criticism at all; it’s a free country and people are busy, and frankly only a masochistic fool would sit through the excruciating boredom of a Campaign against Climate Change “organising” (sic) meeting – or indeed a CaCC public event.  But then it’s not clear how Mr TU would be able to claim with credibility that his on-the-ground knowledge is superior and that the analysis made is incorrect.  So it’s unlikely this interpretation is the right one.  The search therefore continues.

Second up, perhaps the post is “totally unhelpful” because it is not correct about Manchester City Council’s “greenshit and bullwash”

Well, “IMHO” no-one who wanted to be taken seriously as any sort of independent thinker would defend the appalling record of Manchester City Council around climate change this year.
From the farce of the failed 10:10 employee engagement programme, to the inevitable delay of the Internal Delivery Plan (and failure to inform the figleaf known as the Environmental Advisory Panel of this delay), to the shambles that is the preparations for the November 30 stakeholder conference (the date has been set for six months, but invitations STILL have not been sent out! This delay has, by the way, made life very difficult for the group of volunteers who are giving up their time and energy to try to make November 30 a success. The Council and its minions do not seem to be losing much sleep over this.)

The litany could go on and on. What’s that Skip? You’d like it to? Ok, since you ask;
The Council has “failed to renew” (not cut, y’hear) contracts with a major charity that helps people live sustainably/
Over a thousand organisations have been invited to endorse the Manchester Climate Change Inaction Plan. As of a month ago, only 110 had. That number may have gone up (we’ve not been told). But even if it is now at 300, or even – ha ha – 500, the point is this – during 2010, not one endorsing organisation appears to have started a programme of employee/public education about the Plan, getting people on board, getting ideas moving forward. Meanwhile, the City Council has made nary a mention of the Plan in its various media outlets (from the glossy ward pamphlets to the egregious Manchester Pravda). It has produced no short guide to explain the Plan.
The Plan’s official website is – despite repeated assurances of imminent upgrade – still the same brochure site it was when it set up in November/December last year.
No word has been given – despite repeated requests – on exactly how this Plan will be “iterative”, updated and adapted to meet new challenges, new opportunities. Post-it notes on a wall are simply not gonna do it.

Quite simply, to quote someone who the Council thinks is completely on board, “the words piss-up and brewery come to mind.”

So, claiming the post is unhelpful because it is inaccurate is a bit of a reach. But maybe I’m getting it all wrong. Maybe it is not inaccuracy that makes the post “totally unhelpful” but rather its accuracy. Perhaps Mr TU’s argument is that some things are best glossed over, lied about, bullshitted about, schmoozed about. “Let’s all pretend everything will be all right, then it will be.”

So, the third of the four ways how sense might be made of the “totally unhelpful” is by intepreting thus

“The analysis is correct but it just does not DO to tell the Truth in public”
Well, that’s the policy we’ve been adopting these last 20 years on climate change, and look how far it’s got us. I defy anyone with guts to look into the eyes of their children and tell them that knowing the truth but denying it is the best strategy for a survivable future.

But look, there is a principle of charity. Perhaps while acknowledging the accuracy of the post, Mr TU is, with its author, throwing in the towel.

Maybe, finally, the correct interpretation is “the analysis is correct but there’s no POINT in telling the truth because nobody is going to change what they are doing anyhow.”

Given what we know about the inadequacy of the information deficit model, and the self-healing capacity of the ghetto, this entirely depressing view of the world – if this is what Mr TU meant – is all too accurate….

Perhaps John 8:32 was wrong. “And ye shall know the truth and truth shall me you free.” Not!!

Oh dear.


About dwighttowers

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2 Responses to From the Sublime to the Totally Unhelpful

  1. Steve Connor says:

    Hello Marc

    I’ll happily ‘out’ myself to reply to this post.

    Actually, I think it’s unhelpful for a far more mundane and pedestrian reason: I don’t think we’ll achieve anything in this city by slagging each other off. No doubt that response will also send you into an incandescent rage, but as I said in the email you’ve had forwarded to you, it’s just my personal and honest opinion. You can take it, leave it or lambast it.



    • dwighttowers says:

      Hello Steve,

      We achieve nothing by slagging each other off (that’d be reason #3 then). But you fwded the email around, presumably to show your friends how unreasonable I am. And you publicly agreed re: the Trots. (So it’s ok to slag some people off, but not others. Interesting.) And you’d agree re: the Greens if you saw them up close and personal. And you agree – well, let’s not go there…

      But of course, if you’re saying we should not have honest and frank appraisals, (or “slagging off” if you prefer,) then the implication seems to be that in the absence of these appraisals, things will be ok, that we are winning the game and don’t need to raise it/change it.

      But what – really – have we been achieving this last year? I have heard the “reasons”, but I am unconvinced. If a mere scheduled election and a financial pinch can throw everything into such utter chaos, what hope when things really begin to pinch?

      My incandescent rage is to do with the ever deeper levels of bullshit and evasion, delay (and delay and delay) and complacency emanating from Castle Grayskull and all who sail in her. This morning’s latest example – a Manchester People that yet again fails to inform the public about the Action Plan.

      Either this is an emergency and we all have to wake up in the morning thinking “one day less to turn this catastrophe around” or we… bimble. And right now, I look around and I see endless fucking bimbling.

      But as you put it, I’m leaving “your” shores soon. Can’t say I will be sad to go. I am sure many who I’ve called out on their bullshit etc will be equally unsad to see me go.

      Marc Hudson

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