LABOUR LEADER Simon Blackburn was at it again on Monday night, rounding up seven of his finest sycophants to form the Fairness Commission panel in its first public meeting, entitled ‘Our Blackpool, Your Voice’.
One commenter emailed me last week to ask whether I would be going to this event, and I thought about it. I checked out the information on the Fairness Commission’s website. Palatine School, okay, not far to travel.
It was advertised as an ‘unique opportinity (sic) to ask questions of the Fairness Commission’s Steering Panel and to make suggestions as to the future direction of the town.’
‘The event is open to all, so come along and make your views heard!’
Good opportunity to grill the council leader and his cohorts, I thought.
But then it said that not only did I have to sign up and register to attend, but if I wanted to ask a question I had to send it to them in advance, so that difficult questions such as ‘is it not hypocritical of Labour to be plying our children with sugary snacks for breakfast after the Shadow Health Secretary called for sugary breakfast foods to be banned?’ could be filtered out. It was obvious that this event was nothing other than an act of theatre to promote the egos sat on the panel, and I concluded in my response to the commenter that: ‘Nothing will be up for discussion, it will merely be a case of Jack and Blackburn telling everyone what will be happening.’
And it seems that this is exactly what it was. Preloaded with scripted answers, sycophantic questions that didn’t test the panel in the slightest and answers that we have heard a million times before. All in all the event was a pointless charade. Given that the number of people on the panel made up around twenty percent of the attendees, from a population of 140,000 it could be said that people were disinterested in the Fairness Commission. Either that, or the council deliberately kept news of the event below the radar so that only sympathisers and self-promoters would be amongst the audience.
The Fairness Commission is supposed to be a vehicle that represents people in the town, in order to give a voice to everyone such that it’s not just about ‘who shouts loudest’. It’s not, it’s about Simon Blackburn giving himself a platform to serve his sermon to his disciples, massaging hearts and minds with rhetorical hypotheses and pseudo-empathy. A hammy, staged, act of political propaganda featuring a panel populated by the Commissar and his Politbüro reading a script does not constitute involving the people and does not constitute a discussion.
This façade is very much like an extension of the consultations that the council carries out with respect to new projects. It decides what it’s going to do, puts it out for consultation, gets responses from residents but does what it originally planned regardless.