MCFly 037- Executive Decision

On Wednesday 18 November the Executive Manchester City Council will adopt a 64 page plan about Climate Change. The document, called “Manchester. A Certain Future. Our co2llective action on climate change” has been months in the making. Written by a mix of council officers, academics, activists and business people, it lays out a bold vision (if you ignore the existence of a whopping great international airport) of how Mancunians will be living, moving, working, growing and adapting by 2020. It’s freely downloadable and far more readable than the notorious “Call to Action” of January. Wednesday’s meeting is open to the public, and starts at 10am, in the Council Chamber, level 3 of the Town Hall Extension.

On the subject of Certain Futures, MCFly sees two racing certainties;

a) Climate Change is going to hit us in ways we haven’t yet considered, and quicker than most people think. Many Mancunians are in for a rude awakening.

b) Without relentless, imaginative and constructive pressure on the City Council and its partners, (and the other Greater Manchester councils) then infighting, apathy, despair and bureaucratic inertia will sap the momentum gained over the last year.

That pressure needs numbers. Not a single one of the existing climate campaigning groups is doing a particularly good job of enthusing newcomers and keeping them involved – every group has a core of usual suspects and many new faces who are replaced by still newer faces within a couple of months. On climate change, Manchester City Council has started to change how it works. Maybe the ‘activists’ need to do the same.


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5 Responses to MCFly 037- Executive Decision

  1. Sorry, much a fan as I am of what McFly achieves, I think the last bit of this piece is nonsense.It may well be deliberately imflamatory, and It's true that all camapaigning organisations have constant challenges on recruitment and retention. But to pour that amount of praise on the council when NOTHING has yet come of their new plans is frankly obsequious.All the while they act as our eco-saviours they are considering plans to pave over Birley Fields, Chorlton Meadows, Heaton Park and Hasty Lane.But the categorical difference between activists andthe council wonks is that the latter are PAID and the former are VOLUNTARY.("all voluntary work is inherently unsustainable" – Rob Squires of Groundwork)I make no secret that I think the council are world class at patronising, obfuscating, doublespeaking and fobbing people off. I hope Mcfly aren't the latest to fall under their spell.But I'm very pleased the council have come out with yet another new plan to tell us how wonderfully green they are, I will be more pleased if they achieve very much that is substantial.The reason why they have even put these latest re-workeed plans out is because of dedicated activists, especially in C2RA.Does Mcfly SERIOUSLY think that the council officers etc. would have done all that work for nowt?You have compared apples with pears.All the more reason for C2RA to submit an invoice for their time and expertise ASAP. Regards and best wishes all the same. See you soon.Steve

  2. Hi Steve,partly it was deliberately inflammatory, yes.While we can and MUST critique the Council, in effective and imaginative ways, I don't think we should ignore the problems in activist circles, and constantly let ourselves off the hook because we are volunteers. That's simply one of first ghetto homeostasis mechanisms of the smugosphere. Note that I said the Council has "started to change," not that it is by any mean perfect! And yes, they're paid to do this, they wouldn't do it for free, but then I wouldn't do my day job for free! I don't think the Council is great- one sentence acknowledging a bit of a shift in how they go about things isn't 'heaping praise' is it? As I say in the article we're commenting on, relentless pressure is going to be needed. But that WON'T happen unless we address the recruitment and retention problems that "we" have. Each group in Manchester (FOE, Green Party, MCA/SEMA, Permaculture Network, C2RA has major problems with these. There are different reasons in each case, but what is SERIOUSLY (sorry to shout) lacking is a cold-eyed analysis and then attempts to resolve it.Rather like the species, we Can't Go On Like This. PS If you feel that MCFly does become obsequious to the Council, then it's very VERY important that you do alternative analysis- we will link to it wherever you put it, and publicise it in MCFly. We are aware of the danger of being brought inside a process and then being neutered, but obviously the MAJOR danger is that you don't notice it as it's happening- proverbial boiling frogs and all that.

  3. Tx for the response there Mr/Ms McflyI think the bit that got my goat most was "Manchester City Council has started to change how it works. Maybe the 'activists' need to do the same."The only evidence of the former is that they have capitulated to activist pressure by churning out some bits of paper which as yet has amountsto nothing. We have been here before, so they haven't really changed at all, exept perhaps beyond some more greenwash training events as part of professional development.Activists do need to constantly review how we organise and that is a whole different subject. Manc. Green Party have gone to a committee structure which frees up time for more interesting stuff for the casual member.I was at a Bury GP public meeting last night. 50 to 60 people listening to someone from the Tyndall Centre. It was well presented but fairly basic. If the same thing had been organised for Manchester there would have been half the people. That's because there's a lot of informed activists here. I dont think that should be underestimated. I'm told that MCA were by far the most professional contingent at the recent Climate Swoop. I won't elaborate on the subject further for now, suffice to say that if activists were all on the same £20 to 30k plus that the council workers are then you would almost certainly not be making those comments.CheersSteve

  4. Hi Steve,in my experience, most 'activist' meetings at which climate science is discussed have gone down from about 70 to about 40 in Manchester since 2007. All the people who want to know about it have come found out. I hope Bury manages to keep more folks, and to give them opportunities to be active. Maybe I still would be complaining about recruitment and retention if we were on 20 to 30 K- we might just screw it up but on a wage. The key point is though, that we are NOT, and will not be on that money. But that doesn't mean we should not reflect. Most of the meetings I go to are TERRIBLE, and even the ones that aren't, don't result in more people being involved (that's partly down to poor secretariat/follow up/mentoring and promises not kept- mea culpa). My point still stands- we cannot afford to simply say 'the Council is often shit [I don't dispute it!!], we're volunteers and therefore criticism should only be directed at them.' Not if we want to win. To win we need more people to put more pressure on them. The way we are going about it at the moment, we are stagnant in numbers and talent. Or do you disagree?

  5. Pingback: Steering What, Where? |

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