Friday, November 29, 2019

A grand day out in Sunderland - the People's Powerhouse

I came away from the People's Powerhouse convention in Sunderland earlier this month with two burning thoughts. The first was the way we use language and the way we refer to actual people. These can be emotional times and we have to be feisty to get what we want. And there’s a but coming. But there has never been a more urgent need to dial down the hate and to channel the anger. There are other people out there who want to build walls. I loved the Tortoise Media “think in” about how we can fix British politics, partly because I despair of the choice we’re faced with. But we need to go out and have conversations like that in communities, in cafes, in church halls, in schools and workplaces. I want to build bridges; and that means an urgent conversation with people when you might not like what they have to say.

The second thought was the power of “one”. Nazir Afzal’s talk was both joyous and shocking. Any conversation will shock and upset when it talks about victims of rape, grooming gangs, terrorists and, yes, family members who thought they were killing for ‘honour’. But it was joyous for how one man uses his impatience, persistence and canny sense of timing to correct wrongs. We need to take on bad people in workplaces and communities. That needs to fuel a narrative of love, against the easy answers of hate. And I know that’s hard.

I love the spirit of the People’s Powerhouse. I’ll be honest, I still like the idea of the northern powerhouse. But creating an unstoppable movement in the middle of perfect storm isn’t easy. But we don’t have a choice. We have no choice at all.

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