Far more dangers to village way of life than Mereham’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:04 04 May 2010

MY venomous, self-righteous and rather unsuccessful quest to gain local popularity by expressing disgust at this forest of Say No To Mereham boards seems to have evoked many letters far more colourful than my own. Whilst I am grateful that the recent l

MY venomous, self-righteous and rather unsuccessful quest to gain local popularity by expressing disgust at this forest of 'Say No To Mereham' boards seems to have evoked many letters far more colourful than my own.

Whilst I am grateful that the recent letters column has helpfully confirmed my original claim, I regret that those who assume that I am pro-Multiplex had not read more carefully. In reality, it is rather that the anti-Mereham campaign as a whole is fundamentally pro-Multiplex.

At the first part of the inquiry, one of the resounding fears expressed was that local democracy might be overruled by high-handed decisions made by a distant central government.

Told this way, the story is of a powerless local underdog, rising up to challenge the evil power of almighty Multiplex. Unfortunately, when set in context, the story looks rather different.

Multiplex's stated aim is the accumulation of profit for the only people it cares about, its own investors. No thought of the people whose lives are adversely affected by its actions. Sure, I believe that Multiplex is dark. But if we read Walt Kelly, listen to Scripture, or watch Spiderman 3 - darkness is not so easily externalised. 'We have met the enemy, and he is us'!

Is Multiplex simply the corporate manifestation of the very motives that drive the campaign against it?

Many have appealed to democracy to protect 'our' idyllic environment for 'our' children, to maintain 'our' local beauty. But this is tribalism, not democracy: 'we' - the privileged - enjoy a lifestyle 'we' want to maintain for 'our' sake, with no thought of the people whose lives are adversely affected by our actions. For instance, the implicit demand that Mereham be built elsewhere is a demand that the objections of other local 'democracies' be ignored. Every 'Say No to Mereham' placard is a demand that central government override local 'democracies' like ours.

Globally we must take action not only to conserve 'our' environment, but 'the' environment. So don't complain about 12,000 more cars if you still want to drive yours.

Globally, any true democrat will seek power for the powerless, and campaign to oppose the 'free trade' that dis-empowers millions worldwide. If we are unwilling, then let's not hope "common sense will prevail over financial greed".

Globally, if we had "spent hours researching from a desk" we would realise that there are far greater and more pressing dangers to "our village way of life" than Mereham. Our carbon fuelled lives are already causing disaster for hundreds of thousands, a disaster that will eventually engulf our idyllic villages - unless we exert genuine democratic power now.

Any locality that flexes the muscle of democratic concern only when its own beauty comes under immediate threat, is merely a local embodiment of the Multiplex character.

Of course, there may well be a few anti-Mereham folk who are genuinely committed to democratic justice, but if we are to oppose Multiplex honestly and effectively, then every campaigner must follow their lead. Otherwise you may as well take a black marker pen and add a letter 'w' to the 'No' on your placard.

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