Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Hot air & public servants

I'll hold my hand up and admit I rant from time to time. I cannot abide wingeing or moaning, but I'll accept a rant now and then. This is a rant.

I rant because I'm passionate about things. I believe we CAN save this planet, provided enough people start doing something. Call me naive, call me childish, whatever, but I believe we all have a shared responsibility towards each other and the planet.

And then we have are our illustrious leaders. Make no mistake, not ONE of them were forced into the positions of leadership they hold. In most cases they worked rather hard to get there. This simply means they WANTED those positions of authority, and with authority comes responsibilty.

Sadly, leaders in this day and age seem obsessed with rhetoric and spin, as opposed to actions. Grandstanding as opposed to effort. They want the authority but shy away from the responsibility.
These are often the easy ways out preferred by cowards, while brave souls face the problem head on.

In the UK the country's essentially devolved to mostly a two party system, and the supporters of this system are too ignorant to recognise that they have reduced it to a stupid system of petty insults, akin to what I'd expect to find amongst five year olds in a playground. This system of theirs serves the parties, leaving the people long forgotten.

If you don't  conform to or support their system, you're viewed as a subversive of some kind. These are the people that have the arrogance and the audacity to make life-changing decisions in our names. Scary, isn't it?

Now I don't have delusions of grandeur. I'm a dad, a husband, a geek and a cyclist, probably in that order of importance. In the greater scheme of things I'm not anybody special at all. I'm no great leader, nor a wonderful orator.

I do however have a good nose for sniffing out BS and right now my nostrils are overwhelmed with the stench.

Here's the thing: The PM, all politicians with any skill of hopping on to any bandwagon are claiming the high ground on carbon. They feed us enough words to fill the British Library several times over. Yet while the volume is there, the substance isn't. As a result, their words amount to nothing but an enormous cloud of hot air.

"We are serious about tackling climate change" and other phrases are bandied about. But sweep aside the BS (easily done!) and you will see in most cases there is NO action to back up their words. So why are you voting for a leader that is good at talking but bad at DOING? Seriously, people, for once don't accept the mediocre in your life!

In my hometown of Plymouth we have a few MP's that grandstand on Twitter, yet NEVER respond to questions. We have counselors that either don't respond, or when they do cannot show any action. Instead, they point you to even more words.

So let's have a look at these words. Plymouth has formally adopted a cycling strategy, which if you were to read it will leave you thinking the city is serious about moving things forward. Except it is all empty words, and the actions tell a totally different story.

The strategy says cycling lanes should be fit for purpose and not needlessly disrupted. Go read an earlier letter of mine to the council and then see their pathetic response.
The politicians will be quick to point out the response was drafted by a council employee, a civil servant, and not by them.
They'd tut-tut and shake their heads, trying to get to believe they're indignant, before promptly forgetting about it and moving onto the next thing. How quickly they forget they are supposed to be in charge of those same civil servants. How unsurprising to discover that civil servants feel they are above the people they are supposed to serve! All they're doing is imitating their masters!

What does it take to follow clear scientific advice and reduce speed limits in all residential roads to 20 mph? What does it take to reduce the killing and carnage caused by poorly trained and poorly behaved drivers on our roads? What does it take to reduce this car obsession and re-prioritise things so that PEOPLE are first?

I know what it will take - plenty of guts and a strong backbone!

Yet the sad thing is I believe those are the two very qualities that are almost entirely absent from any gathering of politicians and civil servants!