Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Diggers on my wavelength

I wasn't able to get along to Monday's Birmingham Post Big Debate, but it seems that Digby Jones picked up on a line close to my heart - the failure of leadership by those running Birmingham.

We are not getting the civic leadership we deserve, not just the politicians but the other strata of society.

Can you hear him Whitless and Tilsley? Do you understand this? You are failing Birmingham with your incompetent leadership. It is a measure of Cameron's lack of understanding that he keeps coming back to Birmingham and holding it up as an example of what a Tory council can do. Lord knows why - the city has been stuck in stasis since 2004. Our motto - Forward - sounds increasingly desperate. Yet still, Whitless and his crew rearrange the deckchairs.

He criticised the ludicrous name dreamt up for the city region as a 'cowardly, political fudge.' We are to be called Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country. Catchy. Look - it may offend our friends in the rest of the West Midlands and those in our more rural areas, but Birmingham is the nearest we have to an internationally-recognisable brand. Diluting that is short-sighted and, frankly, stupid. Like Digby, I'm not sure that we'll get any benefit from the city region other than another talking shop for local politicians. What is certain is that any benefit would filter out to places beyond Birmingham. Calling the city region 'Greater Birmingham' makes most sense. It is simple and recognisable to most people. Nobody will use the proposed term - it just sounds like a provincial building society. Focussing on getting your part of the area into the name is an example of the pariochialism that will doom the whole project.

For all that, the biggest issue is the pisspoor quality of our civic leadership. I still can't believe that Whitless is the best that the Birmingham Tories can offer. And then, perhaps he is.

1 comment:

Moseley Blogger said...

While I cannot say what Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle are doing in terms of 'catching up', and that, therefore, Digby may have a point, I am reminded that he has made a stupid fuss over nothing a couple of times in the last few years. So I'm taking this as another senior moment on his part.

I do agree with him that city regions are the Devil's handiwork, and he's onto something there. But his analysis of the proposed name is undigested slop. If he thinks the region needs a new name because Americans don't know where it is, he needs a lesson in geography and a rethink.

There's a US city with a similar name, and which figures prominently in political and race relations history. Most Americans associate 'Birmingham' with Alabama, and are not likely to have heard of this one. International geography isn't exactly an American pastime, either. So Jones is off his nut if he thinks that non-recognition among people in the US is a valid indicator of whatever recognition factor he's looking for.

I give him 1 in 4 for yesterday's remarks. Your reluctance to agree with him may yet stand you in good stead.