Sunday, 4 March 2012

Boaters fall for British Waterways divide and rule tactics

In all honesty I'm feeling pretty p'd off with the waterways world at the moment.

It seems to be finally dawning on more and more boaters what a pig's ear the proposed Canal and River Trust is turning into. Shame it's about a year too late and that people have only spotted it now we all but have a fait accompli.

People are also finally seeing the reality that the elections to the Council are being poorly run, that the constituencies are inadequate, badly thought out, leading to huge inconsistencies and discrepancies over who gets to vote in which consistency. More opportunity for boaters to be divided and be ruled at the hands of BW and a lot of people have walked in eyes wide shut.

I was also pretty disheartened by Narrowboatworld's approach to the article I offered them, of almost instantly offering a knee jerk response from Graham Phillips which pretty much missed the point I was trying to make in the original article and pretty completely misinterpreted the points being made in my NABO colleague Stephen Peters' observations on the mess that the voting constituencies are. Yes, I'm winging a bit maybe, but its on my mind still so I need to vent - it will help me even if it helps no-one else. "Yet it was for me not you that I came to write this song!"*

Graham's instantaneous reaction to my article and Narrowboatworlds decision to publish it did upset me and I'm afraid are symptomatic of the problems I was trying to highlight. Some of us plug away quietly in the background for years. We try to speak wisely and fairly but don't mind others having a go too, in fact some of us welcome it, and hope that they will build on our efforts and experience. I don't expect everyone to agree but a fair hearing and a thoughtful considered reply would be nice.

However Malcolm Blundell came to my defence a little later and saw the points I was trying to make and gave a more measured and thoughtful reply, yes, disagreeing in part, but much better delivered, at least from where I'm sitting. That has slightly re-heartened me.

Nonetheless the attention being given to the elections onto the Trust Council and the heat and smoke it is generating, only re-confirms one of my eternal frustrations: As ever many boaters seem more interested in dividing and arguing the toss among themselves than in taking BW to task head on. Meanwhile the BW fat cats continue to rule, doubtless quietly laughing at our in-fighting and disunity.

* These words from "Anthem" by Rush


  1. Having been handed our token bit of 'democracy', the CRT council have completely neglected to already include organisations that seek to represent boater's interests - NABO, IWA and others. Although contentious in different ways, if a few seats were already handed out to these groups, then 'our' four seats could be genuinely democratic. There's no way I can see we'll get any kind of real 'man on the clapham omnibus', and like so many 'democratic' concepts, the valid opinions of minorities will get ignored, as ever.

    Perhaps they'll get it right by 2112 (sorry, best Rush reference I could think of).

  2. IMHO, Well observed the other Simon. If I want to get all paranoid and conspiratorial, I'd suggest BW couldn't have designed things much better if they wanted to set people against each other. Exclude the existing representative groups from the the structure and make them compete with individual boaters. Brilliant.

    The shame is none of us was quick enough to stop it happenning and this goes to my point about things being done in too much of a hurry.