Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Publicans and Politicians

The meeting today inspired me to attack my Press Officer role whole heartedly. I think that we have a platform from which we can achieve a lot of positive change, from which we can question and interrogate the social issues of today from an unbiased angle. We can fully utilize drama’s endless possibilities. I had this idea for an article, it is only an idea, and it needs humanity – that is the input of the people of Ham to become relevant, I am hoping we can get this input soon. The possibility of involving the politicians standing for Ham and publishing it in the local newspaper had me thinking along these lines. Enjoy my mad tangents and digressions:

“Building stronger, more integrated communities is central to our vision for Britain.”

“state driven multiculturalism, uncontrolled immigration and the threat of extremism have led to an increase in distrust and segregation, and left us with divided communities.”

This is the Conservative manifesto, from the Shadow Minister for Community Relations and Social Action. Interestingly, the focus is on a multicultural society, echoing the fear and panic that has resulted in increased support for the British National Party. The class divide, an issue the Conservative party is often denounced upon, is addressed with reference to this multiculturalism: Supporting community groups based on their effectiveness in countering poverty and deprivation rather than on the basis of ethnicity or faith”

If the words of politicians can be accepted as truth, then this manifesto means the Conservative Party, in particular Sayeeda Warsi and Jeremy Hunt would be willing to back our community project. Indeed, we at St Mary’s seem to show the vision of bringing communities together, regardless of race, class, age, ability and faith, that the conservatives believe a broken Britain severely lacks.

But I wonder if the conservatives are going to address the simple fact that children from ethnic minorities have a higher chance of living in the deprivation and poverty that they are so eager to tackle. A wonder formulated entirely on the rather ambiguous statement, “state-driven multiculturalism”.

I have an article on the pub as the heart of the British community prepared, all I need is a publican from Ham to voice his opinions, and then I can contact the Conservative party, (Who incidentally are running a, ‘Save the British Pub’ campaign,) and we can get the ball rolling with them.

The Conservatives are not alone in my political scrutiny.

The Liberal Democrats also have a heavy focus on communities being the foundation of a better Britain in their campaign.:

“It's time to put communities back together. We'll make it possible for local people to work together to run local services. That's how to deliver what people actually want.”

“Strong communities need good homes and the schools, shops, transport and community facilities to create a sustainable community not just a housing estate.”

The pub, unlike in the Conservative manifesto is not mentioned as a pillar of the community, but I am pretty certain that the Lib Dems would be interested in heralding the local pubs as pillars of their community. Their manifesto is interesting, and undoubtedly more complicated than the Conservatives. It focuses on giving political power back to communities, giving them the ability to govern themselves.

Whilst the focus here is initially on the pub trade, it is important to remember that the focus will always end on drama – in the community. I am hoping that by stoking this fire, by asking the publicans what they want their pubs to stand for, everybody will realize a common goal: A self sufficient community, in which the people who live there have the deciding vote on what happens, and ultimately, not because they vote for tories, or yellows, or reds or whoever, but because they realize the capacity for change is within their grasp. That they can break social barriers, and communicate with one another, and inspire a social equality that only a community is capable of creating. The biggest barrier which stops communities from forming is not a result of a particular government: It is a result of ignorance. As Marie Curie perfectly put it, Now is the time to understand more, so that we fear less. If we can bring these segregated social groups together for a few hours to celebrate the potential of community, then through drama we will have created the blueprint for society that the politicians are struggling to word.

Why the pub, you may ask. Well that is simple. Where else, in your lifetime, have you witnessed such an eclectic mix of suits, white collar workers, laborers coated with dust? Where else have you seen people of all ethnic backgrounds and faiths mingle effortlessly, and spontaneously break into song? The Great British Pub is an institution, a source of national pride because it should serve as the heart of the community.

Its time, in the next week or so to sit down and enjoy a pint or two, with a notebook and a Dictaphone, and find out what people want from their pubs, and what the pub wants from their people. It’s a difficult task, but somebody’s got to do it. Anyone care to join me?


  1. that sounds like a brilliant idea Ben and i love reading yourblogs :)

  2. Excellent idea Ben. We've already made contact with The New Inn on Ham Common and next Friday I think some of the team are going to go and talk to the landlords and ladies of the other pubs in Ham. Try and join them.

  3. Ben, you have worded this impecably. If we can create social change through drama in Ham, then we can walk away with our heads high. I so hope we set the community up to allow them to become self sufficient and that they slowly realize the capacity for change is within their grasp.

    Jennie and I visited the pub yesterday and it is delightful...care to join us again after the meeting on Monday?

    Hope your back is OK now xxx