ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for June 1st, 2011

Questions for West Dunbartonshire Council.

with 2 comments

One of my readers, Penny, has some excellent questions for West Dunbartonshire Council:

“I haven’t time or space right now to pick up on every issue so I’ll just mention two statements that I found troubling and which I’ll post separately. I trust the councillor –should he read the posts – will see them as constructive criticism from one who has done the job herself.

In my opinion the following statement is very unfortunate:

“West Dunbartonshire Council remains committed to our boycott of Israeli goods and our resolve has only been strengthened by the torrent of vile abuse threats of violence against our families that has come from people who claim to be peace loving people.”

So, what has actually been said here?

There is no mention of Israel having exacerbated the situation that existed in 2009. Yet the council’s resolve has been strengthened. Why? According to Cllr McColl this is because the councillors have experienced a very negative reaction from some members of the public.

What a very bizarre way to approach policy!

Has the Councillor considered how this might be interpreted by residents in Dunbarton? Because what this position seems to be saying is that a) if the council votes on a contentious issue and that vote causes public protest, outrage and threats and b) this public reaction then results in councillors becoming hurt or otherwise emotionally distressed then c) those councillors will not only stick with their original decision but will strengthen their resolve to do so! This isn’t professional and it isn’t very democratic either.

A councillor is most unlikely to complete his/her term without some form of public disapproval. I certainly didn’t! But if a decision creates such outrage – and I daresay distress – then shouldn’t the councillors first course of action be to listen to the people, undertake a proper and professional review of the issue and do all that is necessary to maintain the good name of their council rather than viewing it only through a prism of self-defence and acting on that alone?

Reading the motion and listening to the video has not convinced me that there has been an honest and in-depth appraisal of the situation with further research undertaken. One would have thought that before strengthening resolve some consideration might have been given to Judge Goldstone’s retraction – which weakens the original case.

Given that this issue has been discussed on several blogs in the UK and has reached American sites, I would have thought that the best way forward would be to convene a meeting between the council and an organisation able to represent the Israeli perspectives. At least that way some academic information might surface and the council could be seen to be doing its best to understand both the issues and the outrage.

Furthermore, if councillors are receiving abuse/threats then such a move would go a long way to stopping that. Which is an awful lot better than going on the attack, sending out warnings and mentioning the police straight away. These types of actions are not the best way to shape the public’s view of a council and although the police take threats seriously, personally, I think it might be better to instigate other measures first in order to support police resources.” [My emphasis.]