Some democracy-related things to consider before blaming ‘The Local Council’
The complex See Through News Content Delivery Network means we run a lot of social network channels and groups.
You don’t have to scroll far down local Facebook groups, like our pilot Facebook group See Through Salisbury, before you find someone raging at ‘The Council’ for something or other.
Broadly speaking, these complaints can be be categorised as follows:
- The *%$!£*! Council are stupid
- The *%$!£*! Council are lazy
- The *%$!£*! Council are corrupt
Council inaction or screw-ups may well sometimes be down to individual incompetence, laziness or corruption.
None of us is perfect, and local councils are seldom accused of perfection.
But these regular Facebook accusations rarely come accompanied by evidence. They’re usually expressions of frustration that the council hasn’t lived up to standards previously delivered.
But what’s the real issue?
There’s an alternative explanation for most such frustrations.
4. The *%$!£*! Council is broke
This is, we suspect, more often the root cause, than individual council employees being stupid, lazy or corrupt.
In many countries, more than a decade of austerity following the 2008 financial crisis has produced a succession of annual budget cuts, even before inflation.
‘Lack of resources’ (= no money) is therefore a reliable default assumption, when something that The Local Council used to do, no longer gets done.
The Social Media Distorting Megaphone
But council-bashing is reliable clickbait for lazy, corrupt, incompetent corporate media organisations, like the tiny number of billionaire-owned agglomerators that own 70-90% of the Anglosphere’s remaining local newspaper titles.
As anyone who spends more than a few minutes reading local Facebook groups knows, local council bashing doesn’t half wind people up. Which, of course, means more eyeballs and more ad revenue for Facebook. It really is a very neat piece of Three-Headed Beast mutual back-scratching.
Blaming the council for things they can no longer afford to do doesn’t make it true. It does, however, mean The Council tends to bear the brunt of criticism that should more accurately be directed at the cabinet ministers who control the purse-strings.
Is it an Age Thing?
Interestingly, you don’t often hear young people blaming The Local Council.
Negative sentiments about local council efficacy are usually expressed by people who were adults more than a decade ago. People who remember the days when councils were ‘properly’ funded.
Because they remember how things used to be, such veterans see things ain’t what they used to be.
Younger people who’ve grown up since austerity kicked in tend not to be so vociferous. They’re used to the way things are, and never had Good Old Days against which to measure the Way Things Are.
So how to nudge people towards effective climate action?
These kind of local council brouhahas are opportunities to nudge Unwilling Inactivists towards effective climate action.
Re-framing the kind of knee-jerk reactions that complaints about local councils often trigger in a more thoughtful, fact-based way, is an opportunity to replace reflexive opinion with objective fact.
In this way, even if the topic isn’t directly related to climate action (thought it often is), re-directing the direction of the conversation may lead to other entrenched opinions or positions being reconsidered.
Topics like bike lanes, gender labelling on public toilets, and other culture wars encouraged by mainstream media billionaire-owned press owners can make this challenging, and you have to pick your battles.
But judicious sprinkling of this kind of nudging in large groups of regular people is a great opportunity for effective climate activism.
This is why See Through News is admin for hundreds of local Notice Board Facebook Groups, whose members are the ‘unconverted’, or unwilling inactivists, present such a powerful opportunity for change, precisely because See Through News doesn’t honk its green klaxon. This is the basis of our transparent Trojan horse methodology.