Thursday, 8 September 2011

No more charity sand in your oysters (or; FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO SHOP!)

That fearless defender of truth and justice, Paul Uppal MP, is riding into battle again. In the midst of the worst recession in generations, the dismantling of the national health service, the removal of Sure Start centres, the privatisation of education and the destruction of green spaces, Paul's identified the real enemies of society:
After consulting with constituents and businesses in Wolverhampton City Centre
Oh yeah? I'd love to see his methodology. 
Paul Uppal, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West has called for action on the volume of Street Preachers and Fundraisers
Now these people make me angry. Religion makes me profoundly depressed, and being approached by various charities is uncomfortable and probably ineffective. 

BUT: what Mr. Uppal proposes is a fundamental attack on one of the quiet glories of British society. That is: the street is not solely a commercial space. 
We need a situation where consumers are allowed to shop peacefully without the apprehension of being stopped
To a multimillionaire property developer like him, all space is commercial space. Left to their own devices, our public spaces would look like Times Square: billboards blaring and space rented to the highest bidder. For the Tories, value is solely monetary.

What Paul explicitly believes is that we are only of value as humans when we are consumers - the term he uses to describe us. To him, the idea that someone asks you to think of the poor, sick or hungry, or to consider alternative ways of thinking about life while you're wandering down the street is horrific. It distracts you from the only real purpose in life: to consume and to enrich corporations. 

What makes shoppers a protected species whose perambulations alone should not be disturbed? The street is not a mall. It belongs to you. You don't have to buy anything. Be scruffy. Be loud. Be purposeless. You can go there for whatever reason you like. That's why I admire the disaffected Goths who hang about: they've decided to colonise a public space and use it for their own purposes. 

I think this is dangerous. I'm all for asking these people to be polite and calm - but only when we ask the advertisers and hawkers (and politicians) to tone down their hysterical demands on my time and attention. 

(Further reading: Ground Control: about the awful commercialisation of our public spaces.

He also wants to 
discuss moving the city in a forward direction
Anyone who knows what on earth this means wins a prize. I assume he's just picking a metaphor because he's trapped in management speak, and not actually planning to 'move' the city 'forward' or anywhere else.

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