Why Do Some Politicians Wallow In Ignorance?

Three years ago a local politician, Adrian Owens, published this article, below. How pertinent is it to the situation now in West Lancashire?

“A supposed advantage of electing people from different walks of life to a Parliament or Council Chamber would be that better decisions are reached.  Elected MPs or councillors bring expertise; knowledge or life experience to the subjects under debate.  In return, they are listened to, proposals modified and better decisions reached.

“For all its faults (and I happen to favour an elected second chamber), the House of Lords very often reflects this well.  If only the same could be said of West Lancashire Borough Council.  Instead we regularly see two tribes going to war.  Any comment made by someone not in their tribe is one to be dismissed out of hand.

“At the council meeting just prior to Christmas, Skelmersdale Councillor, Claire Cooper

had tabled an important motion on fire safety in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.  As I work professionally in health and safety, including fire safety, I suggested that Cllr Cooper might want to strengthen her motion which was a representation to the Government on how national fire policy should change after the tragedy in Kensington.

“I made a suggestion about defining what was meant by high rise building (was it five storeys, 10 storeys or what?) using the current definition in current building regulations.  I also put forward that if we really wanted to create a positive impact on fire safety that we should lobby the government to require sprinklers to be fitted in all new Care Homes in addition to the calls in the motion for sprinklers in high rises and schools.  After all, fires in care homes such as Rose Park and Newgrange only 8 months ago have claimed more lives in recent years than school fires.

“Councillor Cooper is the sort of councillor that West Lancashire needs.  She is very active in her community and prepared to listen.  She agreed to amend her motion to take on board and strengthen it. 

“Alas, we reckoned without the more typical tribal West Lancashire Councillor.  Cllr John Hodson a Labour cabinet member quickly jumped in and bullied his group to stick to the straight and narrow pre-rehearsed wording.  Perish the thought that anything put down on paper before the meeting could possibly be improved through the process of debate.  Then we, had a Conservative councillor misunderstand how sprinklers work, though afterwards in private he had the good grace to apologise.  Meanwhile another Labour councillor showed his complete ignorance by stating that burnt toast could set off a sprinkler. 

“Anyone watching the debate would have been dismayed at many of the contributions, often from councillors woefully ignorant of the subject or simply tribal”. 

Claire Cooper isn’t a councillor now, and it seems West Lancashire Labour is poorer for it?

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career”.  George Bernard Shaw

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