Bullying . . . and the silencing of the alternative view
The emotionally charged stories emanating from Number 10 may seem a long way from this region's economic future, and the role of the automotive industry in it. But the silencing of an alternative view doesn't happen just in Downing Street, nor does the surfacing of that view, if part of reality, stay down for long.
The unfortunately-named Christine Pratt of the charity National Bullying Helpline was herself subject to a pounding by Today's John Humphries this morning. And, it can be argued, quite rightly too, if for no other reason that a helpline should surely keep their callers' identity confidential. Yet neither her indiscretion or Humphries' attack diminishes the harm bullying causes, whether from a Blairite insouciant spin or something more immediately frightening.
Number 10 was already rattled by Andrew Rawnsley's book The End of the Party which filled yesterday's Observer front page and a further seven closely-typed pages inside. Hence, the Labour Party are on the offensive (to quote the BBC's militaristic term); i.e. let's find those weakling sneaks in our offices and shut 'em up.
Once powerful people have embarked on a habit of marginalising the alternative view, bullying (or worse) of dissenters or the vulnerable is inevitable, whatever the veracity or otherwise of their alternative view.
What's being played out in the highest office in the land is not far removed from what happens in many workplaces, in the private as well as the public sector across the nation. I've written before about the value of the alternative view and how, here in this region, we tend to squash or marginalise those challenge the official view . . . or simply ignore them.
The silence that has greeted recent economic assessments about the region is astonishing. Is it a fearful silence? Is it indifference? Or just a lack of understanding? Or a lack of connectivity between people who were important in our past and the who, what and whys that will be important in our future?
The WMRO in their 2009 Regional Skills Assessment have concurred with the Centre for Cities report University Challenge that the science research base in this region, regrettably almost exclusively in our universities, is a very important asset -- of far more importance to us than high value manufacturing, a mere 1% of our workforce. Of far more importance, too, than the much-hyped digital media sector, employing fractionally more of our workforce, some 7K people.
Meanwhile, a Post headline today says that the automotive supply chain is too reliant on JLR -- given the grip of JLR on our psyche and policy-decision-making, that's no surprise. Another headlined article reports, unsurprisingly, that Stadco is in even deeper trouble.
There appears to be a surfacing of this as an alternative view: The automotive supply chain in this region is increasingly irrelevant to our future prosperity.