I t was not long ago that the word “expert” was revered. If someone was an expert mechanic, you trusted them with your car. If someone was a medical expert, you entrusted them with your life. If someone was an expert on the economy, you wanted their approval for your finances, writes leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council cllr Shaz Nawaz.
Most of us still feel this way, however, apparently the Conservatives have a different view. In 2016, experts were derided by Michael Gove, who said that the public had enough of listening to them.
Most recently, Jacob Rees Mogg suggested that the residents of Grenfell Tower lacked common sense by listening to the fire brigade, the experts on the scene, rather than stampeding out of their building. Rees Mogg apologised, but his colleague Andrew Bridgen then made matters worse by suggesting that Rees Mogg’s cleverness somehow validated his point of view.
There are enough other instances for this to be taken as a theme. When the Prime Minister was told about the concerns of the business community regarding Brexit, he apparently dismissed them a most foul-mouthed manner. This is madness. Our system of government has been built on a bedrock of reason and rationality; it is reasonable to be cautious when implementing a great political and economic change such as Brexit. It’s reasonable to be guided by those who have spent their lives studying problems when trying to find solutions. It’s critical that we respect those with knowledge in matters of life and death.
We need a healthy dose of respect for experts. When it comes to understanding the present state of our NHS, who is better positioned to tell us than our doctors and nurses?
They say that lack of funding is driving matters to breaking point. We have been repeatedly warned over the years by police officers that cuts to law enforcement would make us more vulnerable; a quick scan of the pages of this newspaper and the crimes listed therein show the truth of this. Our teachers have plainly stated that our children are being let down by underfunding; who can look at Peterborough’s test results and not see their warnings bear fruit?
Given the results of the dilettantes in charge of our current government, contrary to Michael Gove, I believe we are more than a little tired of amateurs. We don’t want our precious tax money wasted on experiments like free schools. We believe the police; we want safer neighbourhoods. We have found out that it simply isn’t possible to do more with less, often there is just less with less; this premise has been tested to destruction.
I suggest that as we plunge into yet another General Election, and a local contest to follow in May, that we look at the plans that the parties put out and wonder which ones show a respect for knowledge, and which ones are merely trying to appeal to emotion. I have no doubt the rational vote will be for Labour.
l This will be the last Opposing View until after the General Election.