I was interested to discover that Haringey has a designated free speech area outside of Haringey Library so I put in a Freedom of Information request to find out more:
“The English Defence League (EDL) is a racist organisation whose main activity is street demonstrations against the Muslim community. Although it claims only to oppose Islamic extremism it targets the entire Muslim community and its actions deliberately seek to whip up tensions and violence between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.” (Hope Not Hate)
The state of the current condition of humanity (and its implicit modes of communication) is best illustrated when considering a thought-experiment. Let us imagine a world in which every speech, political or otherwise, is followed by an ‘illumination’ – the speaker dancing her/his entire field of knowledge (sensitive, emotional, rational and otherwise) around the previously addressed subject. Not miming, but dancing. Really dancing. For a short period, silence is prevailing; the speaker steps out and dances his/her convictions.
Ed Milliband has been standing on a wooden pallet to make some high street speeches in the run up to the local elections. Something the Daily Mail describes as “cutting a rather ridiculous figure”.
I’d like to draw a tentative line between a couple of events from the past weekend. The first is an interview with Tory cabinet minister Ken Clarke in which he described Ukip members as ‘clowns’ and some of its supporters as racist. The second is Hofesh Shechter Company’s performance of two works at Sadlers Wells: Uprising “a highly-charged work that leaves audiences buzzing” and The Art of Not Looking Back (“Physical, complex and unrelenting”).
Mil Vukovic recalls some speeches from her life.
I witnessed a lot of political speeches in my early life. I say witnessed rather than heard because I remember them taking place in front of me but I cannot recollect any of their content. Our school choir was best in town so we were asked to sing at all major city events to mark various revolutionary and war anniversaries and national holidays. We were accompanied either by a harmonica or entire military orchestra.
In the last two posts I have been using a 2009 research paper on why British and Dutch politicians chose to go on Have I got News for You and its Dutch adaptation, Dit was het Nieuws to help understand why politicians dance publicly when their job doesn’t obviously require it.
The motives of the politicians who participated in the comedy programmes drew from three repertoires: strategic, indulgent and anti-elitist. This final post will look at anti-elitism:
In this repertoire, parliamentary politics and the media responsible for covering it are presented as institutions crowded by elites possessing their own language, style and in-groups which are more or less alienated from their constituencies and the public at large. The politicians drawing from this repertoire see it as their responsibility to perform differently and show that politicians are also ordinary human beings, with their ups and downs, their flaws and imperfections.
In the last post I turned to a 2009 research paper on why British and Dutch politicians chose to go on Have I got News for You and its Dutch adaptation, Dit was het Nieuws. The motives of the politicians who participated in these programmes drew from three distinct but overlapping repertoires: a strategic repertoire, an indulgent repertoire and an anti-elitist repertoire.
This post will look at the second of these repertoires (in relation to dancing publicly) which boils down to “having fun” and ” a nice change from day-to-day politics.”
They see their participation as one of the pleasant by-products of being a well-known politician, but do not expect or need any direct political benefits from it. There are some strategic motives of personal visibility involved here, but these are absent for the well-established politicians.