Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Barnet goes to the Edinburgh Festival

Roger Tichborne and Charles Honderick promoting
A Tale of Two Barnets on the Royal Mile
You may have noticed that there was no blog on this site yesterday. The reason was because the Barnet Eye was off enjoying ourselves in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Festival. The film was being shown at the Edinburgh Unison offices in the training suite, a large room fully equipped for showing videos. All were invited and Unison rather kindly laid on a buffet and refreshments. Prior to the event Unison had sold 60 tickets and a smattering of members of the public turned up as well, some from Barnet.

Edinburgh Unison offices at Douglass House, where the film was screened
After the showing, there was a question and answer session. Myself, Charles Honderick, Ruth Kutner (a Barnet resident featured in the film) and Barnet Unison rep, John Burgess comprised the panel. Unison had allowed 30 mins for the Q&A. I wondered how the film would translate to an audience in Scotland. The political situation is completely different, with the SNP being the main power currently. Edinburgh Council recently abandonded plans for a One Barnet style outsourcing. They had compared the costings to an in house service and found the In House service was clearly cheaper. Sadly in Barnet, the council won't even allow this comparison to be made.

A visitor from Glasgow told us that their council was a Labour Council and had plumped for the "Joint Venture model" which is now flavour of the month in Barnet. Many of the audience were flabbergasted to hear of the harrassment of Helen Michael by SO15. One visitor later told Charles that he was a former member of Special Branch and was amazed that they would get involved in such shenanigans.

There were questions about how the production was made. The thing which was most interesting to the delegates was the way such a low budget, homespun film could be so powerful. Many delegates recognised patterns within the film. Comments were made as to the arrogance in general of CEO's and also to the inadequate nature of democratic control by councillors. Another common theme raised was bullying.

After the formal debate, most members of the audience stayed for an informal debate. Charles Honderick got chatting to a local film maker, who was intrigued by the film and the support it has received. I chatted to reps from Glasgow about their Labour council. He rather chillingly said"Here Labour is the complacent incumbent power, we don't even consider the Conservatives".

After the debate, many of us adjourned to the pub. As Everton beat Manchester United, this rounded off a great night for me.

Many thanks to the people of Edinburgh for such a warm welcome. I wondered whether a film specifically about Barnet could say something to a wider audience. The answer was a resounding yes. Sadly in 2012, we are not alone and all of the problems affecting us are being repeated across the country. Not for the first time, a member of the audience said "Why isn't Ken Loach Prime Minister", having watched his introduction. Sadly we have a Prime Minister and Chancellor who seem to have no answers at all as the Economy slides further into debt and recession

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