Sunday 24 January 2016

Sunday joke, from a Barnet Tory Councillor ... David Bowie, and the joy of reading

Updated 20th September 2019: Cllr Rozenberg has now left the Conservative Party, and joined the LibDems, and May God Have Mercy on His Soul:

More rib-tickling library fun from twitter, last night, for the residents of Broken Barnet - 

Hampstead Garden Suburb councillor Gabriel Rozenberg, bless him, who spends his time fighting unknown depths of social injustice and deprivation in the most affluent ward in the borough, if not the country - yes, dealing with noisy leaf blowers, homeless butlers, etc - (and who lives down the posh end of Mrs Angry's road, you know), was in a reflective mood:

Gabriel Rozenberg ‏@rozgab

Thought for the day. If Bowie, endlessly prolific, could find time to read so many books, why can’t you? #notetoself

Hmm. Mrs Angry replied:

Maybe it's because you and your fellow Tory councillors shut all the fecking libraries? 

He did at least have the grace to respond: 


And so Mrs Angry suggested Gabriel did the right thing and tell his fellow Tory cllrs to stop messing with libraries. Reading, she observed, should not be the privilege of the wealthy.

No comment.

They simply don't get it, do they, our Tory councillors? Or rather even if they do, they hang their heads and vote through any proposal put in front of them by their own senior officers, and Crapita, swallowing any old guff on the pretext of making those elusive 'savings' for which there is never any real evidence. 

Funny how we can afford to spend £6 million on carving up our libraries for outsourcing, but not the modest budget required to keep our once universally admired, and value for money service intact, isn't it? Or look for other ways of keeping our libraries as they are - and even investing in them, for the benefit of residents, and indeed as a cost effective resource as community centres.

If any of the Tories with some degree of intellectual capability, or cultural interests, (yes, unlikely) stops to think about it, they know that most of the great creative talents that Britain has produced have relied, in their childhoods, on the access to reading that the public library system once gave to all children, regardless of background, or wealth.

Gabriel's hero David Bowie famously once said that he was 'a born librarian, with a sex drive ...'  in his youth, he used to hang out with friends in the library gardens in Bromley, and in his adult life read three or four books a week, and would even take his own library collection on tour with him.

The history of this country, and the social progress of which we once were so proud, is rooted as much in the public library service as in the other foundations of a civil society: the NHS, the Welfare State, equal access to good education: all of which, of course is being systematically dismantled by the grandsons of the generation which tried to oppose the introduction of all of these things in the first place.

The future for libraries in Barnet, and the future for our borough's children, especially those from less advantaged backgrounds - whose parents, unlike the privileged residents of Hampstead Garden Suburb cannot afford to buy them books, or take them to a politically favoured, subsidised library in a Tory ward - is indescribably bleak: barred from the horrendous new unstaffed libraries that our Tory councillors want to introduce, and condemned to lose so much vitally needed study space. 

Where will the children of Bromley, Brixton or Barnet explore the world of reading now, Gabriel?

The impact of the library cuts in this borough, in terms of literacy, and educational achievement, will be incalculable - and the wider effect of removing the access to reading, and the world of the imagination, the liberation of the mind, from future generations of children with the potential to become writers, artists, or even politicians, is perhaps even more immeasurable. 

Mrs Angry, not so long ago, tried reminding the Tory councillors that Margaret Thatcher had been a great advocate of public libraries, recognising that they were essential to the process of social mobility, or rather what our Barnet Tories claim to be so keen on, that is to say 'aspiration'. They wriggled in their seats, the neo Thatcherites, and it was clear they knew this was true: but they voted through the proposals anyway, because ... they do not have the courage of their own convictions.

So here is another appeal to you, Councillor Rozenberg, and any other Tory members who really know what you are about to do is just plain wrong: yes, please - do the right thing, and vote against these terrible plans.

Who knows, Gabriel: you could even be ... a hero, just for one day?

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