Featured image: Left Lion Artist/Illustrator Becky Riley’s re-visioning of Nottingham Neighbourhoods in the Welcome to Nottingham booklet given to students: we need to welcome the people who live here in the same way
Ruth Edwards MP was born in 1984, the year George Orwell imagined as the ground for his fiction of a cruel totalitarianism where a perpetual present cruelly tortures human aspiration, love and desire.
Ruth has been Rushcliffe MP since 2019 after Ken Clarke moved on to the House of Lords where he still champions one nation conservatism: for example: 21st June on BBC Radio Four World At One where, after explaining the kind of government action needed, concentrating on skills, productivities, investing in the right kinds of industries he went on to talk about targetting help to those who need it most: ‘Why should I benefit (I’m a pensioner) I received help with power bills (£1100) out of the government’s package for gas. I have two houses (although I am a)pensioner, I don’t need this… protect the poor’ (at33.43).
The next generation MP Ruth Edwards sees the issue through a narrower lens but maybe broader perspective where communication, reaching more people, more of the time can happen through technologies implemented well.
The Rushcliffe MP studied Theology and an MSc in International Development and Security before working for MP Crispin Blunt as a researcher and strategy consultant for Deloitte, did a Crime and Justice Fellowship at The Policy Exchange, worked for the Tech Exchange as Head of Cyber, Justice and Emergency Services and worked for BT as Head of Commercial Strategy and Public Policy.
The older generation could talk about participation through Ken Clarke’s traditional post war one nation conservatism had a strong constituency presence, where everyone felt connected through his strong engagement with history, culture, music and sport.
Unlike Ruth Edwards, Clarke was reluctant to get involved with or see the benefits of technologies beyond it being a sort of secretarial service. The difference between the generations is where we can see their overlap and it’s where we can begin to make up the massive democratic deficit even in Rushcliffe.
It’s in the way we develop an inclusive ground where new kinds of work, businesses, ways of learning, living. It’s in the way we look outward to the world and new structures of engagement that protect everyone and deal with the old issues and problems well: for peace with Ukraine and Russia, new ways to receive and deliver safety, security, service and a re-imagining of the neighbourhoods of Rushcliffe and the economy.
Ruth Edwards has a strong online presence where she champions environment (particularly issues, local regional, national and international about water quality and accountabilities) it’s about understanding that the future does come from nurturing the aspirations of children to do good.
This is something everyone connects to: we can all remember a moment when an issue touched us. As a child I remember how we all felt at my primary school when a coal slag heap toppled down on one in Aberfan, Wales. I also remember being really touched learning about Kwashiokor a malnourishment you’re born with. A case of Kwashiokor was found in the UK in 1998 but since then we’ve begun to understand so much more about the relationship between food supply chains, just in time processed meals in the health service: we know now that Malnourishment is now common in people over 65 in the UK and that it’s common in people who are working and need to use food banks (in 2000 there were about fifty, today there are 2,400).
It’s also about supporting the people who run takeaways and restaurants to develop the quality of their food, their skills and confidence as well as the training and development of people who work in food manufacture, production.
In the Online Harms bill currently at the report stage we’re addressing the terrible moral and social injury that everyone in society can experience through the maladministration, fraud and abuse of all kinds via technologies and platforms. Every online organisation will be accountable via their Safety Controller and individuals will have increased power to call on an ombudsman. This is a part of our missing rights that have resulted in so much fear, uncertainty and lack of will and ability to act.
We all need to live in a neighbourhood where we can trust the technology to fuel our dreams, imagination for the things we need, want and aspire to. It has to be within a tech environment that is becoming more accountable.
Last week some Rushcliffe residents received a questionnaire that you could reply to by email or by post from the MP about community safety and our perception of crime.
The intro to the 5 questions is that Ruth has been approached by a group of residents concerned about anti-social events, activities, so that we can respond: the theme is community safety. I’ve filled it in: in my lifetime the relationship between the police, neighbourhoods, crime and anti-social activities has become the most important aspect of living in any area.
The questions are:
1) On a scale of 1-10 how safe do you feel in your neighbourhood? 0 is not safe 10 is very safe
2) How satisfied are you with the police presence in your area 0 is not very satisfied 10 is very satisfied
3) What are your biggest concerns in your area? Anti Social Behaviour Road Offences/Speeding Domestic Violence Burglary and Robbery Knife Crime Other
4 Have you witnessed or been the victim of anti social behaviour? Yes No
If yes, could you provide some details?
5 If you have reported a crime how satisfied were you with the police response? Very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, Neither satisfied or dissatisfied Somewhat dissatisfied
5a Could you please provide some details on the police response?
In asking these questions there’s a traditional conservative attention to Neighbourhood Watch organisation and values and recent updates to the highway code that are the result of Sustrans, Living Streets and green campaigns locally and across the world for less driving, more walking, cycling more neighbourhood visions of economy that are really positive.
My thinking is that to answer questions about anti-social activities we need at the same time to to rejuvenate our understanding of an economic neighbourhood with a very long history, think of anti-social activity as a push for acknowledgement, inclusion and change that we need to address across class, age, gender, ethnicities.
We need to grow people in every rural, urban and town neighbourhood across Rushcliffe to bring every part of the borough to life, move into a different kind of economy that’s responsive, generative and inclusive.
I think that we need a campaign across Rushcliffe to re-find the distinctiveness of neighbourhoods, communities to welcome everyone into Rushcliffe as a citizen participant in the same way we welcome students, football fans and inward investors. Each parish council, each political entity, each street has a history, identity, diversity that’s unique, lively and a real part of the whole of who we all are. If we understand that inclusion is a continual process of welcoming the people who are already here, widening our understanding of who we are and what we aspire to be.
For example, when students arrive in Nottingham Left Lion put together a welcome brochure that they give to students when they arrive. I worked at The Student Housing Company (now Yugo) after furlough from my job as Achievement Coach.
As well as a guide to independence and independents, in the welcome booklet there was a re-visioning of Nottingham Neighbourhoods, a bright, lively rebranding of the areas we might, well, say….have forgotten?
In the post Covid, living with Covid time we’re in thinking about the changes in the last seventy years, the last forty years, the last twenty, the last ten. I think we’re getting the kind of communication, we’re already involved but we don’t realise it in a new kind of communication that will involve more people, more of the time in defining the kind of world we want to be part of.
The other day I was on Central Avenue and saw a young policeman who’d stopped a group of middle aged men who’d been making comments to a woman. He’d pulled them up for their crudeness.
I couldn’t believe it and ran back to say ‘That was brilliant’, he said:
‘Well, madam, they were out of order and they needed to be told’.
I loved that.