Friday, December 12, 2008

Complete Carwash: David Ottewell Prediction of 9-1 or 10-0

David Ottewell last night predicted a near complete carwash for Manchester's Transport Innovation proposals. He was suggesting 9-1 against, or perhaps even 10-0 in terms of the ten local government areas.

Having spent quite a lot of time talking to citizens across much of Greater Manchester over the last few months I must say I fear the worst but still hope for the best.

Fearing the worst because of the extraordinary lack of understanding of the proposals from many of the individuals concerned.

For example there was the disabled woman in her late 50s I'd guess who told me she had to vote NO as she needed her car and she was not wealthy. Disabled people of course get a free pass 24/7.

For example there was the man in Piccadilly Gardens whose analysis went: "Vote NO! Make them all pay!" Putting the whole thing on its head.

For example there is the famous Highways Agency employee who emails his objections to the world along the lines that the current facilities are mediocre, so he's voting against improvement.

For example the young passenger transport users who saw it as aspirational to be sitting in a BMW in a traffic jam in ten years time rather than to have better transport.

For example there was of course "Daft Dad" in the NO campaign video who allowed his daughter to be attacked to avoid a charge that would not have been charged.

For example there are those who object to the charging for their shopping trips to this or that supermarket, but then have to admit that they don't actually shop at weekday rush hour. Few of us do.

For example the grouping that says (a) they don't believe the transport improvements will arrive and (b) wait for it ... those transport improvements will come anyway.

Despite the millions poured into factual explanations and the untold amount spent by the YES campaign there is a huge gulf in understanding.

This great gulf has been persistently nurtured and topped up by the lies of the NO campaign and of political parties driving a NO vote.

The Peel Holdings shower with their focus on Tax, their choice of £1200 charges as their mantra, their fibs about town centre charging schemes.

The local Conservatives with their "everyone will pay" lies and absolutely no shame over their de-regulation history.

The semi-detached semi-sane NO campaigners with their rape video, their Mugabe and Jong-Il posters, their torrent of steaming misinformation.

And for all their protests we have had the Manchester Evening News and the other GMG media. Supposedly in favour of the proposals. But with a drip, drip, drip of doubts never mind absolute opposition. With a splash, splash, splash of C-Charge headlines ... making the whole debate centre on what most regard as the down side.

Last night on Radio Five Live there was a debate on the Irish Referendum and it was pointed out that the NO vote was a rather meaningless collaboration of those bashing the local powers that be, those settling scores, those with mistaken objections of many kinds, and those far fewer in number with more reasonable objections.

"NO" and Stop The Change seems to be the inherent conservatism of most referenda these days. There is enormous inertia to be overcome to secure progress.

If Mr Ottewell is right, and he's not saying where he gets his gut feeling from, then we've hit gridlock once again. Which would be a great shame.

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