Democracy – now on the Risk Register

An appreciation of Lord Puttnam’s recent address – The Shirley William’s Memorial Lecture: POWER AND FEAR – THE TWO TYRANNIES.

Was anybody listening?

If so, what did they hear?

If they heard, then what, exactly, did they understand?

Timing is everything.

In the heat of intense political clamour, unleashed as one of their own was murdered, the calm authoritative voice may have been lost in that moment.

Apart from a disquieting thought (the convenience of this remaining unheard) and the low probability of mainstream headlines, the Party in Power was spared the effort of refutation or the greater effort of extra toxic trashing via all compliant media agencies.

But is not a compliant media agency. And the occasion was an address for the Shirley Williams Memorial Lecture series. And the speaker was filmmaker, broadcaster, Public Service Broadcasting champion, Lord David Puttnam – an authority who stands head and shoulders above ministerial ranks on account of knowing what he is talking about.

Readers who may have missed the event, can read the full transcript. Allow yourself 35 minutes + absorption time) for this very carefully and deliberately worded epic.

This was no time for entertaining ambiguity. Raising awareness amongst the already politically astute may seem like ‘preaching to the converted’ but even the readership of this journal may sometimes be diverted by marginal religious differences and overlook the deeper decline of democracy.

It is tempting to summarise here the entries in Lord Puttnam’s risk register – a selection that reflects his areas of specialist expertise. You, dear reader, must invest your own time in that educative pursuit. Your correspondent will say only that the references to ‘Kristallnacht’ and Hitler’s Architect, Albert Speer, were timely, well-chosen and entirely appropriate.

Lord Puttnam, in his well-earned retirement, will not be defeated.

In the years that are left to me I’ll do what I can to support and celebrate the achievements of the next generation of progressive politicians.

We here, who purport to support public service, should not merely applaud his address but be inspired to double our endeavour to combat the twin tyrannies of Power and Fear.

* David Brunnen is media liaison officer for Fareham Liberal Democrats. He writes on Municipal Autonomy, Intelligent Communities, Sustainability & Digital Challenges.

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