Sunday, 19 July 2009

Grit's top ten tips time! How to be irritating in Politics.

It is time to stop the silliness. Yes, Squirrel, that means you, threatening to poke cocktail sticks up Ed Balls' nose. No more of that. No threatening to kick Mr Badman on the shins either.

Right, let's think how we can all engage with the politics of the UK.

Or, how to be irritating until Judgement Day. That, for the Labour party, might be called Election Day.

Shark, I know you are aged only nine and cannot vote. But you, like Tiger and Squirrel, can be irritating if you try. You simply have to learn how to focus that ability to annoy more precisely. Aim it carefully at people in positions of power. And that is not mama, so put the puffin down.

Now, here are Grit's top ten tips, designed to propel our home education issues straight to the heart of government.

(Of course with these top ten tips you can make your voice heard with the people who run this country on all the important issues of the day, like molehills, jellyfish, and dog poo.)

1. See your MP.
In our case, waste of time. We have only annoyed ourselves. Go immediately to tip 2.

2. Connect and communicate.
Shark, Tiger and Squirrel, you have all the world at your disposal, or until the Ministry for Information shuts it down.

From here you can learn about the political processes of this country. Like Early day Motions. Or you can learn tactics about being annoying from masters of the art. But be warned! Satire might piss off people in power.

Don't repeat that phrase, Tiger. In the Co-op anyway. Say what? Yes. We can chant it at home. As much as we like. And nanananana PISS OFF PISS OFF CAN'T STOP US!

OK, stop being silly everyone. Back to the topic in hand.

Take part in UK politics by research. Look at Twitter, blogs, newsfeeds, email. Remember these connect you with people who both sympathise with, and criticise, your points of view. You have to become firmer and more robust in presenting your case. And these are skills of rhetoric, so we even get the Ancient Greeks in on the act today.

3. Write. And attend to the speling.
Write to them. Emails and letters are good. Postcards too. But have limited expectations. If you have a spineless toady MP squatting in a room in Parliament, they don't even bother answering.

Of course, ignoring the electorate is like asking to be baited.

Baiting politicians through the written word is quite satisfying. Until they figure out what you're up to. Then they start binning the letters and calling the police. Of course I was young then. These days I have to get the tea started so I don't have much time for this form of being irritating in UK political life.

4. Make your own forms for people to fill in.
This is very good. Play them at their own game. For every document sent to you, reply with your own form, called something like Permission to Request Information Form (Part One).

In the good old days when minor officials sent me pointless forms, I filled them in with several different coloured pens and some crayons. Then I supplied as much pointless information as possible, like how many stairs the neighbour is hiding in their house. If obliged to give anyone true information, I wrote tiny letters in 6 point and wrote it backwards at the end of a wavy arrow over the back of the page where they couldn't photocopy it. Oh, happy days!

5. Join lots of pressure groups or join no pressure groups.
Joining pressure groups can be quite annoying to people who know you, but to the people in power it gives them an opportunity to define you and therefore discount you. They can say Poohpooh who listens to home educating hippies anyway? By joining no pressure groups you are more difficult to pin down. Water is harder to catch if it's running off down the street in all directions.

6. Publicise your cause.
Most satisfying because your righteous indignation can be visited on lots of people all at once. Post office queues are good but, strangely, not cashpoint queues. I think the people in front assume you are trying to steal their money.

I prefer the one-to-one approach. Librarians are easy targets. They can be converted to many fringe issues by your evangelical zeal. And they are natural allies in the world of home education, possibly because they are traumatised, picking out chewing gum from bookshelves thanks to the term's school visit.

NB: One-to-one intensive chats on the state of the world do not work with bus drivers on board the number 45 at the city centre bus stop.

7. Engage in the democratic process
Sign a petition, take part in a survey, respond to yet another consultation, join the mass lobby of parliament. All these are worthy and they will go on.

In the home education world I have met a lot of people who've waged campaigns longer than a couple of months, so the government are underestimating the resilience of home educators out there. Some of them have fought schools for years to get a decent education before throwing their hands up in the air and doing it themselves with better results. So if the government thinks these parents will keep quiet come October, they've got some lessons to learn.

8. Know people, pull strings, and get the law changed that way.
Tricky. I fail at this one. But I know a man who knows people. He isn't invited to meet HRH PoW for nothing. Unfortunately people don't take the HRH PoW seriously much in politics, so I know this connection doesn't really help. Lord Lucus might be a better bet.

9. Direct action!
Of course I would not of course advocate illegal stuff, like cramming a teddy bear with icing sugar and BLOWING THINGS UP (Hello to the person crawling over this site looking for those words, along with GAFFER TAPE and ED BALLS).

Anyway, these days I am a middle aged, slow running, big arsed grit who has to get the dinner on. So my direct action now excludes running across fields engaged in acts of sabotage.

My definition of direct action thus has to include using CHARM. I know that's difficult to believe.

I would like to think charm means letting everyone know the successes, problems, frustrations and joys of educating children at home, with or without help from the authorities. This blog is one way of doing it. (As you can see, eagle eye junior spy, this blog isn't about BLOWING THINGS UP. It's about HOME EDUCATION.)

10. Continue doing what you're doing.
Shark, Squirrel and Tiger, my home educated children. You are wonderful to be with. You are funny, knowledgeable, sociable, relaxed, happy, safe, confident, energetic, ambitious, and full of inquisitive questions about everyone and everything. And there is no better way, in my opinion, to show the world, including those politicians, just how fabulous home education can be for children. And for their parents.

And that, for some people, must be really, really irritating.


Grit said...

this is for you kelly, because i have not yet thought of a cunning plan.

Jax said...

seemed like a pretty cunning plan to me :)

Maggie May said...

My granddaughters think that *Gordon Brown* is a swear word!

I admire your ENERGY!

kellyi said...


Thank you so much for this. I am going to do every thing on this post. I am going to blow things up too. In the name of science, of course :)

Firebird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Firebird said...

We're off on a group trip tomorrow where we should be shown how to BLOW THINGS UP. Well there'll be rockets at least, it's a space science trip :-)

You missed out Freedom of Information requests. I'm sure they find those incredibly irritating, particularly if you make the request clear and reasonable and for something they really don't want you to know about. Like all the stats that Graham Badman used.

sharon said...

11. Vote with your feet and leave the country?

Grit said...

hi folks! there are some excellent ideas of what to do to be irritating. but maggie may, you are quite right... we all need a huge amount of energy. lucky we home educators have got that in bundles! ;)

Merry said...

This plan is so cunning it should start its own blog.