Sunday, 19 October 2008

Well done, Chris

Although the Darlington page of the Big Vote website still does not show the local result, I can reveal to an impatient world that the duly elected winner of "I'm a Councillor, get me out of here", and Youth Champion for the coming year, is bookies' favourite Cllr Chris McEwan.

Since Chris is also the Borough's Play Champion and portfolio holder for Children's Services he has rather cornered the market.

Most of the secondary schools in town participated with great enthusiasm, though it's a shame that neither Carmel nor Eastbourne Academy joined in. I'd be interested to know how many kids voted: it must have been in the hundreds. One chat room session had 45 kids all online at the same time (and then wondering why me and Jenny, the two councillors online at the time, found it difficult to keep up!).

One sad Labour councillor tried to make political capital of the fact that the Labour councillors in the event did better than the Tories. He also took the opportunity, on a publicly available website, by quoting one of his Labour colleagues anonymously, to personally criticise my performance, (for reasons I still cannot fathom, other than that the person who broadcast them is an intellectual bully). He was in a minority, however. What he failed to understand was that the point of the exercise was not for one party or other to win, but for 13 and 14 year old kids to participate in and learn about the political process. In that respect, it's a bit like youth football, where the purpose of taking part should be to enjoy the experience and learn the skills required to play the game well, rather than to win at all costs and by whatever means.

I am certain that many young people, and the participating councillors, gained a great deal from the experience. Hopefully some way can be found to enable these kids to continue to play a part in discussing youth provision in the town. It will be of benefit to us all.


Darlington Councillor said...

To be clear Mike - I'm the councillor who you feel tried to make political capital out of the event, and I appreciate that my comments were misleading, and I've put a written apology to you on Gill's site and elsewhere.

It was a great event, and I have huge admiration for everyone who took part - it has to be one of the most searching tests any elected member can put themselves through. It demonstrates that politics can be truly local.

The format should surely be adapted both for MP's and MEP's - it has the potential to do more than a thousand classroom lessons on civic life.

Mike Barker said...

Thanks, Nick.