Barlow's Beef: We are facing proposals for enormous change


I had coffee with a local politician this morning. In the middle of discussing a rather thorny issue he said: "The problem is people don't like change so they oppose it at every proposal."

That was pretty much his stance on any controversial issue but it's not always the proposal that draws public condemnation. It's the proposer.

Don't believe me? Answer this question.

If Tony Blair appeared on national television tonight insisting we declare war on some foreign state would you be inclined to support his proposal?

It's an extreme example I know but you get the idea.

Public reaction to any proposal is heavily influenced by the integrity of the proposer.

Let's say you work in the public sector and your proposed pay increase is to be capped at one per cent due to the need to set a frugal budget. How influenced are you by those proposing the move receiving TEN per cent?

So when plans are drawn up to develop the green belt to help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder communities will question the track record of developers and councils.

It will be a hard-sell should they discover that far from affordable homes the emphasis appears to be on expensive four bedroom 'executive' housing.

When politicians propose a 'public consultation' on any controversial matter the final result of previous consultations will be paramount in the mind of the public.

Sir David Attenborough would enjoy far more support for a proposal for change than any politician based entirely upon trust. He has it... they don't.

'People don't like change,' is the mantra of too many politicians and it's a cop out. It's a way of avoiding acknowledgement of their duplicity.

Remember 'Care in the Community'? It was proposed to replace institutional care for those with severe mental illness with rehabilitation and close supervision.

Those institutions were subsequently sold off for development and care services incrementally cut until desperate patients ended up in police cells.

If politicians want us to support their proposals for change they should examine their own track record rather than simply blame resistance on a cynical public. Too many times that cynicism has proved to be correct.

Both nationally and locally we are facing proposals for enormous change. Some will benefit the public others will not. The vested interest of big business, expediency, greed and political ambition will all play their part.

We must not be bullied.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow