Thursday 29 January 2015

A crisis of conscience in Campaigning

Sorry about the gap between my last cycling blog post and this one. Its because this has been a hard one to write.

I joined Cambridge Cycling Campaign last year in time for their AGM specifically so I could vote in favour of them taking up their own 'Space for Cycling' as a policy document, as something to measure the quality of new cycling schemes against. Its a good idea, its a decent set of standards, and it would look most peculiar for CCC folk to come up with this and then not adopt it as a standard. This mattered.

There are some excellent folk in the Campaign - I admire the energy and creativity of many of the committee and I acknowledge there are many other members who are really passionate about cycling. There's an online 'behind the scenes' discussion board (via. Cyclescape) that you get access to as a member, where ideas can be bounced around and any member can contribute. Naturally there are locked discussions therein where I presume confidential material that should only be available to the committe will be discussed, and said confidentiality seems excellently maintained. I wouldn't infer anything from said activity, other than the fact that it doesn't look like the staffers bickering normally dominates the space, unlike many other online fora I've seen. All of this is good and proper and entirely above board, and I wholeheartedly approve. I'd like to see a rather broader set of members contribute but, heck, thats just how things are.

So I joined and got in on some of the discussions there back before Christmas.

I like the holiday period as a time of reflection and thought, and it gave me a chance to ponder on how I'd been thinking and talking about the campaign last year, and how I was interacting with it at the end of the year.

And I don't know that I can continue being involved in that way. I've been having a bit of a crisis of conscience over this.

If you've read this far you'll be wondering why - and its simple enough. This. Right here.  A guy who was banned from standing for a political party over events described in the above link is on the committee and was voterd back on to the committee at the AGM - and discussing matters of campaigning within the organisation means doing so with him.

So do I go back to contributing as I was? I dunno. Personally I don't agree with the Campaigns decision to choose this guy for its committee, the election process involves a few words from each prospective member, no discussion of other issues, and a vote. It sounds democratic, and it is if the democracy is nothing more than a show of ballot papers - there simply isn't time for anything else at the meeting, and I find it a bit icky that someone rejected by the Liberal Democrats seemingly rebounded into the Cycling Campaign committee. Even though he was the only person who wanted the turgid role of going to council meetings and filtering through the unending crap that comes alongside that, I'm uncomfortable with involving myself in such discussions with him. And it rather feels like I'm the only person still saying that there's a problem here, so do I need to shut up and say nothing, and contribute as part of the campaign in what looks like (due to city deal money and some promising proposals on the drawing board) it could be one of the most exciting times for cycling in Cambridge? Well, that ain't sounding like how I'd normally compromise any of my other key ethical stances.

I find it problematic that more folk in the campaign aren't speaking out about this.

I've got to surrender a pretty core ethical stance to participate as I've been doing, and work alongside someone I'm just not willing to speak to, working next to someone who I don't believe I should be working with, and that ain't coming easily to me.