Monday, March 21, 2011

Time for Tag Along Politics - My Commitment

Vote 1 :  Michael Byrne  Independent
Seat of Liverpool  

To Read my Background and other Notices see ------------->

NOTE:  See my final week Pamphlet....  under Speeches, Media Releases etc...--------->

When I go bush walking I tag along with mates. They organise, I just pack my pack and tag along. 

One night around the fire, in deep discussion, it came to me that the idea of “tag along” is prominent across all levels of social activity from kid's sports and activities to special interest groups where everyone participates once gathered. The organisers have the skill and memory of things past which underpins their activity.

This, with the outer glow of the fire and the inner glow of the red wine, triggered further thought about my own interest in civic affairs. I ask where today in Liverpool and elsewhere are the civic organisations with the properties required to assist the “tag alongers” to actually contribute with their skills and talents. They are almost non existent, with the void filled with narks, nongs and opportunists that tend to drive peoples’ hopes into the ground.

Thirty years ago, as a 30 year old, I signed  a petition concerning a local issue that turned out to one of private interest with Councillor support in favour of a local businessman against the wider public interest.  This saw me attend a monthly meeting in February 1980 of the East Ward Progress Association. I knew such organisations as fronts for the Liberal Party at the Local Government level. Not this organisation. It comprised of more than twenty regular members many of whom were aged 60 thereabouts -  my age now. They were generally conservative with a strong sense of commutative justice. They contained a wisdom and command of respect.  Its Executive comprised two Communists, Don and Kath Syme, and Pat Devlin, a man steeped in Catholic Social Doctrine. Now that was a dynamic that contained a real sense of truth in purpose and well supported by the conservative membership. The EWPA had members as Councillors on Liverpool Council for over 30 years until 1995.

I stuck with the organisation across the years. The term stalwart is often used. Today it is in a remnant state. As is, I fear, the values of open civic engagement for higher worth than just politics. From that first experience I was appalled at how political manipulation can so easily steer an agenda that stands for private interests against the broader public interest. So I engaged, and my pamphlet writing began.

An annoyance for me over the years was how people would come in and use the organisation to fight their cause and then move on. Out of 100 you may hold 3. I would ponder on why didn’t people commit to what is so important? Answer: That’s life sunshine! In a sense it is the biblical “many are called but few are chosen” which keeps alive our thousands of civic entities from the local childrens’ sports to other recreational, intellectual and civic pursuits.

Political engagement is a positive civic value, if only to keep the windows and doors ajar for light to shine on those in power or seeking power.

So what is “tag along” politics?  I would promote it as a positive engagement in local civic affairs across all sorts of activity. Where a citizen knows they can contribute by simply being present at a meeting or by offering their matched skills and talents to a particular cause. It requires an entity being in place that contains the local memory and an organised forum. Social media lends itself for far easier access and ongoing recording of retained memory and current issues. It requires, to survive, goodwill generated from a common sense of purpose.

I commit upon being elected to engage with existing local public groups across my electorate of Liverpool to form neighbourhood groups that will promote "tag along" politics. We need such entities where an eager young 30 year old can walk in to engage in respectable debate on a local issue and tap into the local memory and wisdom of people who live in their neighbourhood.   And bring the public interest to the fore in all issues.

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