Monday, 13 August 2012

Community fun and games, Or: An afternoon in Grahame Park

Mayor of Barnet Brian Schama and Hope Yoloye of Living Way Ministries
I sauntered over to Grahame Park open space this afternoon for the Community Games. These are being organised around the country in order to capitalise on the Olympics.

This is the choice: can the working classes be induced to shift their lardy arses off their sagging settees so as to save the NHS some money in the future or, instead, will the ruling classes have to part with a small modicum of their vast wealth in order to fund state-of-the-art healthcare for all?

I know where I would lay most of the emphasis.

I'm all for fostering personal responsibility but it is absurd to compare the life choices for a working-class child from Colindale with those for the son or daughter of the people currently making policy on housing, health, education, local government and - yes - sports funding.

The London Olympics underlined this disparity once again. A year on from the London riots, there were the pundits in the television studio recommending the discipline of boxing (beating people up in a gym) to keep youths - they mean working-class youths - "out of trouble" (beating each other up on the streets).

Meanwhile, the three-day eventing team included a member of the Royal family. In what other discipline could the field be so small as to give one of the eight grand-children of the Queen a realistic chance of selection? Or is horsemanship really a matter of the right breeding?

Anyway, today's event at Grahame Park was cheerful, lively and enjoyable. But the on-the-ground organisation for it was done by a church. From what I can tell, it is a very good church... but what if it weren't?

The current Mayor of Barnet, Brian Schama, put in an appearance to hand out the medals for the sack race and talent contest. But he looked like he would rather be somewhere else; I don't think that was just on account of the drizzle.

He praised the church, saying they are doing good work fostering community spirit on the estate. Indeed, they are. But the withdrawal of the authorities from places like Grahame Park is completely unnecessary.

There has been a lot of praise for community champions in places like Grahame Park, sorting out "problem families". Yet Grahame Park is really not such an "exotic" place needing special understanding. Go there, look around and you will quickly see that all it needs is a little money spending on it, for repairs and recreation, and it could be a thriving community.

I took the Barnet Alliance petition with me today and collected signatures to support the revolutionary proposition that Barnet Council should consult with residents before it outsources all of its services to the private sector.

There was a lot of recognition of what is at stake - and alarm at what is being proposed. The problem is that most Barnet residents simply don't know what is going on. And the ruling administration would happily keep it that way.

My conclusion after this Olympics fortnight and from today is that working-class people do indeed need to get up off from their settees - to kick the backsides of their condescending Tory rulers.

I hope that one of the unintended consequences - legacies? - of the Community Games around the country is that they bring working-class people together in a space where they can discuss how they are going to do that.

The road to salvation lies - no, not through prayer - through zumba!

Sport - or at least bouncing - for all!

6 comments:

Mrs Angry said...

I think it is somewhat worrying that religious organisations are being allowed to take responsibility for community events. Although undoubtedly many do good work, some are extreme in their attitudes and using such opportunities to evangelise.

But did you win any races, Citizen Barnet?

David Duff said...

Unlike, say, the Labour party which, if it had bothered to run such an event, would not have dreamed of trying to evangelise.

Not, of course, that there's much chance of the Labour party actually *doing* something practical like the local church did. Far too busy demonstrating and hawking petitions.

Vicki Morris aka Citizen Barnet said...

I think it is worrying too, Mrs A.

The council is too eager to abdicate responsibility and to hand over - admittedly, quite a small amount of - money to anyone who will say they will do what what the council can't be bothered to do.

I think they call this the Big Society.

DD: your point is beside the point! I expect if the Labour Party were in charge of a community event they would be visible as such - but they wouldn't be put in charge of such an event, because they are a political party.

I presume that you think politics needs parties? And I presume that you recognise that politics involves such things as demonstrations and petitions?

Unless you are the local Conservative Party whose activities seem to consist of holding fundraising lunches/suppers/barbeques. Of course, they also run the council - very badly.

I wasn't there in my capacity of Labour Party member, however; I was there doing work for the Barnet Alliance, which is non-partisan.

I didn't win anything Mrs A. I was invited to participate in the adult spacehopper race but I claimed I was working. Can't risk a broken leg with so much demonstration and petitioning ahead of me.

Mrs Angry said...

Aha, look, Duff is stirring in his lair ... I'm actually in favour of practical christianity, preaching by example, rather than evangelising, eg the Salvation Army, which just gets on with doing the work with homeless people, for example, out of compassion rather than to convert. And dear Mr Duff, most of the social reforms which have supported the least advantaged members of society have their roots in the early Labour movement, itself of course influenced by Methodism and similar religious movements. I cannot quite think of any social reformists who were signed up members of the Tory party, but no doubt you can enlighten me?

Mrs Angry said...

PS: Adult spacehopper race: now you're talking ... shame you chickened out tho

Moaneybat said...

Mayor of Barnet Brian Schama

Is that surname pronounced "Scammer" or "Shammer?" Nice name for a Conservative