Being taken seriously
I am having to take a short break from the tedium of “topping and tailing” letters to be sent out to every MP with the Briefing Paper in three days time. After writing Dear so-and-so, and signing “yours sincerely” six hundred and sixty times, my writing is almost indecipherable. Having to concentrate on spelling three of the Clarke’s with an e, and three without; on four Davies’ with an e, and one without, and sorting out which of those two dozen Scots start their surnames with Mc as apposed with Mac, ought to be enough to keep me awake! But it is not, for the human brain likes novelty, not repetition. I am no exception.
I make myself concentrate not only on the Member’s name but try to envisage for five seconds or so the nature of their constituency – how will these ideas play out in Manchester Central or Winchester; in Tooting or Basingstoke, or in Totness, and the Forest of Dean? I stumble over some of those surnames as I try to write in flowing longhand names like KAWCZYNSKI or LAZARAWICZ and double-barrel surnames that too easily spread across the page. I wonder about the anthropological and social reasons for why there are so many Smiths and Taylors in the House of Commons but no longer any Butchers, Bakers, Thatchers or Farmers, several Browns (with or without e’s) but no Whites or Blacks?
Will they take notice? Will there be something that encourages Members to spend just enough time reading this letter (one amongst hundreds they each receive every week), that they turn to the Briefing Paper and allow the ideas to stimulate their minds. That is what is needed. “You employ very powerful and cogent arguments, and I think the Paper will make many candidates think who have not previously spent much time reflecting on the validity (or otherwise) of their pre-conceived ideas about educational policy,” wrote one Parliamentary candidate earlier today.
Good policy cannot be created by politicians, young or old, unless they have a proper understanding of where the nation has come from, and where it needs to go both in the short, and long, term. In the inimitable words of Josh Billings, a 19th century American colonist, “it is not people’s ignorance you need to fear, it’s what they know which just ain’t true any longer, that does all the damage”.