I’ve heard of “think global, act local”

by Daniel on September 11, 2008

… But this is perhaps taking it a bit too far.

Kieran, would you mind popping down the corridor and telling Councillor Thompson that I’d like a word with him about the changes to residents’ parking at the end of my road? Thanks

(yes yes, I know he doesn’t work there any more, but that would have spoiled the joke, wouldn’t it?)



Kieran 09.11.08 at 9:16 pm

As it happens, I am actually here in Tucson today, but the Poli Sci grad student offices are all in the basement of the Social Sciences building, and that’s four whole flights of stairs away.

From the article:

It is easy to see why the area has raised spirits for the politician, with the Grand Canyon National Park on his doorstep

This isn’t quite true — it’s rather like saying to someone living in Luton that Edinburgh Castle is on their doorstep.


Kieran Healy 09.11.08 at 11:37 pm

We do get more than 300 days of sunshine a year, though.


Barry Freed 09.12.08 at 2:45 am

Cllr Thompson’s monthly surgeries, which allow residents to share their problems, are now being taken over by his two ward colleagues

“monthly surgeries”? I’m American, help me out here.


Aaron Swartz 09.12.08 at 4:02 am

Apparently surgery is British for “office hours”.


Hidari 09.12.08 at 8:20 am

Barry Freed

Don’t listen to Aaron. It’s an obscure bylaw in England that local councillors have to be able to carry out either twelve minor surgical operations a year or one major operation every two years. It goes back to the days when barbers used to be surgeons, and surgeons used to be local councillors for middle of the road political parties.

It’s quite a controversial tradition, but in practice it all seems to work out ok, generally speaking. It seems political and medical skills are quite transferable. For example, I had a brain tumour taken out last year by a 32 year old Green Party councillor last year and despite her complete lack of medical training so far it seems to have worked out quite aaargaqhlk;kjlxxklohjwerjkjhlkjhalmk,mn,.nxzzzz


dsquared 09.12.08 at 8:56 am

Actually the clue is in the quote; a “surgery” is where constituents go to “share their problems” (minor respiraratory ailments, scabies and the like) – it’s from an Old English word meaning “plague house”.


Chris Armstrong 09.12.08 at 9:03 am

I heard of a case recently where a senior council official emigrated to Australia, but was retained on a daily wage by the council so that he could assist in managing the finances while his replacement was trained. There was some public outrage about the squandering of public resources but, once the details were laid out by the council, it looked like reas0nably good value for money and there didn’t seem to be any sense in which the guy’s work was affected by being performed via a laptop on Bondai Beach.

On the other hand, this case makes me feel more uneasy – perhaps I’m a Luddite, but isn’t there something about effective representation that demands the prospect that, should they need to, constituents could meet their representative face-to-face reasonably regularly – and sometimes at short notice? Go on, tell me I’m a Luddite.


abb1 09.12.08 at 9:30 am

I had a brain tumour taken out last year by a 32 year old Green Party councillor last year

Did she come in lobotomobile and use an ice pick and a hammer?


eszter 09.12.08 at 10:20 am

Obviously not the same thing, but I thought sufficiently on topic to mention here: The mayor of Budapest (for the past 18 years) doesn’t* live in Budapest. Okay, so he lives in the suburbs, not a huge deal (clearly, or he wouldn’t keep getting elected), but given that a sizable portion (>17%) of the country’s entire population lives within the city’s borders, it’s kind of amusing that its mayor doesn’t.

*I’m not sure if this is still the case (I suspect it would be), but it was certainly the case back in the 90s.


Lex 09.12.08 at 10:26 am

The MP/Councillor/Doctor analogy implicitly reinforced by the ‘surgery’ tag is an interesting example, in its origins, of the British tendency to conflate authority and assistance, though I suspect that the last generation or so has seen that authority dwindle, to be replaced by an equally pernicious idea that such figures can be made to make one’s life better.


ejh 09.12.08 at 11:01 am

On a smaller scale, but similar and also involving the Lib Dems: see story “Is This Right?” here.

Additional information: Remy Horton is the son of Lib Dem MEP Sharon Bowles who will have known very well that her party was selecting her son as a candidate without telling the electorate the truth about his real place of residence.

Footnote: I am not entirely unrelated to these people.


Alex 09.12.08 at 1:21 pm

This is local to me these days as well, and not because I moved to Arizona either. Perhaps we could consider outsourcing politicians to India? I hear you can buy a moderately competent elected official for peanuts.


Francis Xavier Holden 09.12.08 at 5:05 pm

Councillor “flexibility” is popular here too:


Francis Xavier Holden 09.12.08 at 5:05 pm


roac 09.12.08 at 8:59 pm

it’s rather like saying to someone living in Luton that Edinburgh Castle is on their doorstep.

I looked it up. Google Maps says it’s 342 miles driving distance from the U. of Ariz. to the South Rim.

(Monument Valley — in the picture — is about 430 miles.)


ed 09.14.08 at 10:14 pm

Weird. I was at Oxford with Councilor Thompson. He was Lib-Dem then too. Who decides to become a Lib-Dem when they’re 18? I mean, christ.

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