It's with some apprehension that I write this as I can feel the (not particularly nice) comments coming already!
Last night's Full Council meeting was quite.. well .. lively. There were actually some good debates but a fair amount of name calling and insults as well.
However the thing that struck me was that there seems to be an awful lot of countering an argument by saying something like "well we won't do that because back in (insert year) you didn't do this". The political equivalent of the children's cry of "he started it".
Now I am not saying that sometimes people don't have a point. Obviously it's annoying if you think someone has been rude in the past or done something you don't approve of.
But do we really have to use that in our arguments today? Surely if you don't agree with something the grown up thing to do is to disagree with it for valid current day reasons not because of something no longer relevant that happened in the past. A bizarre example was when I was arguing for the retention of the councillors' question time and one of the arguments against this was to do with how opposition members in the past had been forced to use a sub standard office!
It got me thinking that it would be quite illuminating to categorise the types of arguments and statements made in a typical council meeting and then analyse the proportion of each. Obviously we'd hope that the highest proportion would be serious discussion of an issue based on evidence. My fear is that this would come somewhere near the bottom. (Co incidentally I am looking for a new research topic but I may well give this one a miss!)
We've suggested in the past that we webcast our meetings. I suspect the budget cuts going on will see the end of that. But I do feel that a webcast which was recorded and then played back to people may well change the way some of us speak and argue.