How nothing’s ever really a broad church

Kath points out the following:


It reminds me of something I thought a long time ago – and then, like many of us in Labour as well as further afield, proceeded to foolishly forget.

As in many things in life, there are winners and losers; and then, sometimes, people who believe we can all be friends.

But although I will always prefer to say yes to the latter, it’s probably not really true.

Take the case of Labour itself. Currently tearing its insides inside out over a boringly bruising leadership election (death by a thousand feather-strokes of minimal difference, I suspect), the idea that all of us, whatever we think, can be maintained within one repository of broad containment to our wider satisfaction is clearly rubbish.

Kath reverts us back to the 1980s but I am more reminded of Blair and his times – or, rather, a mirror image of Blair and his times: his achievement being to make us feel we were all that broad church, and that we were all rightly represented.

Something clearly missing right now.

In truth, though, when a broad-church theory holds sway and is accepted by hundreds of thousands of party members, it’s only because tens of thousands convince the rest into believing they are whole. In reality, they will always be hollowed out.

The representation will never be more than misrepresented.

The leadership never more than a firmly familiar scam of the ingeniously wordy.

Blair & Co, for example.

But broad churches cheat more than political supporters.

I sat out on the sunbed last night and cogitated for a while, and these cogitations led me to take a decision.

I realised, all of a sudden, I couldn’t continue to promote a journalism which relied primarily on volunteer labour. My growing engagement with the philosophies of hyperlocal had only served to push me further towards such environments. And I should’ve known better, having been a blogger of ideas and thoughts for over twelve years: I should’ve known better how pernicious this could end up being.

I now realise I was wrong to think it could work. These are the reasons why:

  • To run any service unnecessarily and gratuitously on the backs of the goodwill of unpaid workforces is disingenuous at best; at worst, a deliberate taking advantage of our better judgement.
  • The worker-ant approach to sustainability – ie there’ll always be another set of individuals prepared to give up their home lives and their tranquillity in order to keep the ship of whatever up and running – is both inhuman and inhumane.
  • More specifically, to operate hubs of communication and service – ie hyperlocal media – without giving everyone due time to participate alongside their other paid responsibilities leads to little more than a re-engineering of privilege and a placing of the future in the hands of the few: a new Big Society where those with a secondary income and gobbets of freed-up time can achieve a notoriety – however constructive this in the short- to medium-term may be – unlikely to create a real democracy.
  • Ultimately, then, this all plays into the hands of those who promote a permanent austerity. As someone said to me today, they used to say machines would replace us, but this has turned out quite inaccurate. What’s really happened is that human beings have become the cheap alternative to excessively expensive machines. And we are encouraged more and more to behave just like them in almost every respect. In a sense, I suppose what I’m really saying is that re-engineering the grand profession of journalistic endeavour on the basis of squeezing every last drop of committed and altruistic imagination out of young and old alike is, basically, revolting.

So. Anyway. OK.

I may be wrong; I may be harsh; I may be unfair too. If so, I apologise.

But as I move forwards in hyperlocal journalism, I move closer and closer to a properly remunerated future for all its participants.

I’m open to being convinced otherwise by people who may know far more than I do.

But as Labour’s broad church collapses amongst its own contradictions, so hyperlocal’s own tensions must surely also need facing.

For double rainbows are fairly rare occasions; even rarer, however, is when that crock of gold which looks to be found at their end turns out to be anything but a fool’s.


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