Unless you have been living completely disconnected from any form of media – social, mainstream, or other – you will be aware of the extraordinary ‘extraordinary’ meeting of Handforth Parish Council which has become a viral sensation. The Today Programme, PM, mainstream news broadcasts across the major channels, have all suddenly discovered local parish politics, not least of all because of the calm, patient and authoritative Jackie Weaver, Chief Officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, brought in – apparently – to becalm tensions in the council.
For those playing catch-up, you can see the highlights of the meeting below.
For those wondering if Jackie ‘Call me Britney Spears’ Weaver did have authority, one of Twitter’s best legal commentators, David Allen Green, posted a fascinating blog piece. (It includes the immortal description of Jackie Weaver as ‘the Winston Wolf of Cheshire local government.’)
There is lots to say about Handforth Parish Council, and even more about the issues thrown up by its sudden virality on YouTube: the overlooked hard work of those in local government – officials and councillors – and its importance in ensuring the cohesion of our local communities; the bullying and misogynistic culture that often persists; the way our political reporting generally ignores all of this in favour of lurid grandstanding on Brexit and COVID-19, instead of facilitating a grown-up conversation about what we really need from our politics.
But I have also loved how incidents like this show the power of social media – and the creativity of people who are confined by the pandemic and restrictions on our lives. As well as bringing politics at the most local level to a younger generation, it gives me hope that our sense of mischief remains intact, despite the brutal tragedy of COVID-19 and the economic impact of necessary lockdowns.
In addition to a slew of very amusing memes, there have been some wonderful videos which demonstrate a combination of creativity, irreverence and affection.
These are a few of my favourites.
The political thriller of the decade!
#JACKIEWEAVER The Musical
Handforth Parish Council but it’s an Indy Band
The Handforth Parish Council does Doctor Who
A Musical Tribute to Jackie Weaver and Handforth Parish Council