Sunday, October 14, 2007

Why Bother?

Probably as a result of the recent DCSF's Day of Debate, and yet more articles from Private Eye on the related subject of citizens' juries, am still - at this late stage left wondering about the wisdom or otherwise of engaging with these phoney processes.

From Private Eye:

"While the government talks of "participative decision making" giving ordinary members of the public the chance to have a say in politics, the sceptics talk of "participative ventriloquism" giving ordinary members of the public the chance to say whatever politicians want them to say. While (the pollsters) call themselves neutral "facilitators", the sceptics call them "facipulators" who manipulate jurors to reach a desired conclusion."

It is almost impossible not to agree with this conclusion on the evidence so far, so can there be any point in bothering to turn up to these events and putting the counter-arguments, as a few members of Education Otherwise did?

Of course, the problem with engaging with this kind of pseudo-consultation is that it is highly likely that the minority voice will not be heard at all - will be written out of all reports of the event, and yet the government will nonetheless be able to claim that they consulted widely. Under such circumstances, could there be any possible reason for being there? My arguments in favour of doing so remain the same. I think it worth doing if there are a combination of conditions:

1. that you have a killer argument. The point here is not that one might hope to persuade the other jurors but that you simply get yet another chance to explain your devastating point. That you will take every opportunity to unnerve the pollsters and their commissioners.

2. that you have some way (campaign groups, MSM, e-mail lists, blogs etc) of publicising the fact that your killer point was made and, if necessary, that it was ignored. That you can make the point that the government knew that you have a killer argument and that if they ignore it, this wasn't simply a naive mistake on their part.

3. that the readership could be mobilized, or indeed that an individual could be sponsored to take the governments to the courts to prove the killer point, should that be necessary.

Then, just then it would be worth going. All of these conditions did apply, both to the Day of Debate and to the Consultation on Guidelines for Elective Home Education.

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