Saturday, 18 May 2019

Mayday in June again.

It's now May 2019 - almost two years after Grenfell
Another National Disaster awaits
The fools are screaming slogans...
The wise are warning us..
The Silent Witnesses are..... silent...

An update of the poem I wrote after Grenfell June 17th 2017

Mayday May Day!

We lay them down in Grenfell Tower
Clad in unintended consequences.
Our very own refugees, lost friends,
Clutching copies of their whistleblowing letters,
Dark reproaches
Posted to their elders, richers and betters
As dawn approaches.

Too late, too late!
The strong, unbolted, stable had unbridled hate.
No more high days, hay days
There are still only Mayday May's days...
This thundering immensity
Fell on deaf ears, bent shoulders, heads bowed.
Who sees any lightening in our sky
Through Grenfell's black cloud?
Aching hearts and dimming hope.
Dulling sensitivity to emergency...
And what of democracy? 

The first of us rise up
Bare teeth fools gesticulating, “Our rights!”
And kick against the pricks.
The chorus is rhetoric
That empty echo trick.
Rasp it out through sore throats,
Spit it out at scapegoats,
Print it on placards in full view
“For the many not the few,”
Or was that,
"We’re all right - Fuck you!”?
The second of us couch potato down
Watching, screens scrolling,
Eyeballs rolling, swiveling.
Keyboards trolling, driveling.
Surfing click and chips
Licking and index fingering.

The third of us just mutter,
“Democracy,” tut and splutter,
“That stupid delusion
Coalition of confusion
Pathetic illusion”.
The fourth of us ponder,
Frowning, thinking it through.
We may question, or dissent,
But fearing the label “troublesome and slow”,
And a last stand in the boss’s office
Him whining, “I’ll have to let you go”.

The final indignity is,
“The politicians’ swerve.”
Loosening their limper grip
On a finely shredded nerve,
We hear them cry,
"This is not what we meant at all
We only came to stand and serve.”
And so they are set free
After settling a suitable fee
They rise in the Commons and plea,
"More time with the family"
Reading a formal, scripted, statement of apology.

Meanwhile, a fifth column forms
These are not enemies of the people...
They are the lonely wise
Who looked up and saw,
Not a moment too soon,
Beyond the moon,
All our reflections in the deep blue sky.
Each yellow star, a prick of light mingled,
Interdependent, not one single.
They turn and ask us, “Why?”

And a woman standing on another Tower
Begins to sing,
"For me, for us, for everyone and everything"
Seeking answers, we vaguely recall...
“Love thy neighbour...
Above all to thine own self be true...”
“If you can keep your head when all around…
“No man is an island…”
“I have a dream...”
“Yes we can...
“For the many and the few”

These bites are all sound
But do they speak to you?

Could there be hope after all?
They forecast more wind tonight
With a hard frost whoring in.
If we hug closer, safer, warm, tight
Are we less vulnerable and small?

Turning away from such troubles
As our evening duties call
We turn to our own vulnerables, small
And bend over our youngsters singing,
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.”
Straightening we leave them sleeping
Hearing our words repeating,
“Dreams that you dare to dream really can come true.”

Yes, let’s dare to dream and teach them
How to face their darkest hours.
We can set their moral compass
On those ivory towers.
We could demonstrate, with care,
How to become aware.
When others oppress, abuse
With alternative facts, fake news.
We can prove that lies are obscene
That grassing up is green.
Then they'd all learn to be tell-tales
And Whistleblow a wind
A breath of life, a righteous gale
To buffet those who sin.
A hurricane of hope
As they speak truth to power.

Let this be our lesson
From that awful, burning Tower.

fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Consensual Leadership for Diversity Educators

Yesterday I attended the second #DiverseEducators Conference @AureusSchool, Didcot,
It was a challenging, powerful and inspirational day
Here’s my take on it and, most importantly a Call to action….

WHY were we there?
Here are the reasons we gave at the start (using Mentimeter)

WHAT was it like?  

Led by the indefatigable Hannah Wilson ( @The HopeFulHT ) the day comprised a powerful keynote from inspirational Angela Browne ( @nourishedschool ) followed by workshops and ending with another stunning presentation by Iesha Small ( @ieshasmall )  A day packed with powerful stuff attended by well over 1OO diverse people.

There was honest storytelling and witnessing  - all painful to hear... exemplifying experiences of living in a society not yet relaxed about diversity.  It was intellectually, professionally and personally bruising... you couldn't help but breathe it in.  I was in a minority, rare for me..... a little, old, privileged, white man…. but I knew I could leave the conference and travel home alone, without any of the fears and watchfulness I'd been reminded of......  I felt, at times ashamed, tearful, frustrated and angry - that made up my hurt.  Thank goodness I was also inspired, impressed, hopeful and above all buoyed by the positive if snatched conversations with individuals....  Today, Sunday, I was going to take it easy but I can't... I remain driven to try and make a difference...and especially pass on some thoughts about turning HURT into PURPOSE... it’s what I try to do...but HOW might I help?

HOW might Consensual Leadership be one way of making a positive difference....
Well.... the HURT I felt yesterday is linked to the HURT I felt when traduced by a Local Councillor (previous BLOG), and linked to the HURT I feel when trying to debate politics reasonably and am abused (earlier BLOGS)...  In other words the HURT is an element of wider worry. I'll try to explain the wider view....

(For readers of my earlier BLOGs on Consensual Leadership – there is some repetition – jump to So What Next?

I'm increasingly frustrated, like many others, about the rise in apparent acceptability of what may be called macho, domineering, oppressive and authoritarian styles of behaviour in politics, business and, my own profession, education. Bullying, racism, abuse, rape, violence and threatening behaviour have, sadly, always been with us but, in recent years it feels like they have been on the increase.  Statisticians provide the numbers but we, the livers of our lives, know our feelings drive how we respond. Perhaps we are just noticing it all more.  Certainly, intemperate and oppressive behaviours are gaining popular coverage in the virtual and, perhaps consequently, our actual reality.  As people "take to the streets" in ever increasing numbers - the extremists capture the headlines.... It can be depressing and there is a huge temptation to look the other way, switch off... walk over the road to walk on the other side.

On the other hand there has been an increasing realisation, in many, that such behaviours should and must be challenged and there have been powerful examples of successful prosecutions of individuals who abuse, especially (but not exclusively) in the area of relationships and sexual relations. This has been the case in many high-profile court cases in the UK and US, to the extent that when sexual relations are not consensual they are deemed illegal.  The painfully slow increase in successful prosecutions for rape, abuse and coercive behaviour by men (and sometimes women) has been a cause for muted celebration.

The brave movement #MeToo, led by offended women, has been responsible for highlighting this issue and causing a deep rethink, amongst women and caring men.  I wanted to explore a simple question. 

If consensual relationships are a legal requirement in personal relationships, 
shouldn't we apply the same principle in our working relationships?

So, this is a work in progress and I want to pay a special debt of gratitude to #WomenEd who first gave me a platform for asking the question and supporting the exploration of the idea and hopefully some answers and to Hannah Wilson ( @The HopeFulHT ) who asked me to run a workshop on making it happen.


 Before looking at the materials please read the CALL TO ACTION

Below you’ll find a link to the materials – they are a work in progress –  but they explain.
  • Thinking behind and around the concept of Consensual Leadership.
  • Why it’s so important and timely.
  • How we might Lead and Teach in a more Consensual way, to become even more successful.
  • What we can measure when evaluating and planning for improvement in progress.
  • How to collaborate on further thinking and most of all ACTION on Consensual Leadership.

Most will agree with the following quotation

"All that is required for evil to prevail, is for good men and women to say nothing."
 (variously attributed to:  John F. Kennedy? Edmund Burke? R. Murray Hyslop? Charles F. Aked? John Stuart Mill?

But “saying something” is not enough what we do is critical.
Discussing, analysing and debating are important but in the end unhelpful.  Jack Nicholson's character in "As Good as it gets" says it best,

"Hey, I'm drowning here and all you're doing is describing the water!"

Philosophers, journalists, politicians, activists, artists, writers, poets all have place but unless there is a "Call to action" and someone: throws a rope; launches a lifeboat or holds out a hand the drowning will drown.. the failing fail.... the suffering will suffer and the dying will die.

Rope ready...

The MATERIALS can be downloaded here

I'm especially interested in collaborating in finding ways that the idea can be turned into positive, day to day, actions and activities by teachers, leaders and fellow citizens who feel that enough is enough and some new codes of behaviour need to be agreed (or old ones held in greater regard).  It is crucial that our educational provision not only raises the concepts of consensual behaviour, tolerance and respect and but also teaches our young citizens how to turn the concept into more of a lived experience by thinking critically and acting with care.

January 2019

Saturday, 8 December 2018


First draft Sat 8th December – to catch those setting out to march, protest or discuss.
Second draft Friday 14th  - tidied up, inserted better descriptors, lost some verbiage... more to go..
Third Draft Jan - typos sorted... ?....

Happy to receive suggested edits - I enjoy collaborative writing

NOT The Councillor I am complaining about
but a classic BAD conduct

The Precious Present
I like causing serious hassle for unethical and unprincipled people. Don't you? If you do - Read on, you'll need determination and energy but you know that.  It's not easy but it’s important stuff.  I've been reminded of that in the last, exhausting, weeks.  This BLOG is about my experience and learning it's the most important I will ever write but I often think that. 

If you identify with my story and like what I'm suggesting please share it, retweet it, plagiarise it but, most of all, DO something.  It's about making the world a better place.. bit by bit... step by careful step...but only if you do DO something. I often find myself saying "GOYA" when I hear folkd complaining, "Get Off Your Arse! Go Do Something.."

One more thing, there are no arguments for, or against, #Brexit in this BLOG. Neither is it party political. It’s far, far more important than that.  It's about real change in our villages, towns, cities and our country.  So, bear with, bear with... this is about our precious present and how we build a fulfilling future.

Losing my Precious Present.
I’ve had a terrible, testing and tiring, couple of weeks culminating in me preparing a Formal Complaint against a local Councillor, this week-end.  It's meant late nights and early mornings, as well as covering the day job.  It's been an unwanted but critical extra task.  It's involved at least a dozen people so far and is set to involve more. I've been deeply hurt, personally and professionally, angry, grumpy and at worst, I feared a heart attack about what he wrote, said and did, to me and to two friends (yes, they're women) It would have been so, so much easier to leave the councillor unchallenged and do nice stuff - enjoy my precious present.  But something deep drove me on.  I've never fallen for, “You’ll not change him (yes it's a bloke). They are all the same.  You’re wasting your time. Get a life.” So, I pushed on chanting, "This too will pass" and am now reaching a place I recognise well - been here before, had the sleepless nights and now I'm due some rest.  I'm finding my way out of the tunnel, beyond the horrible, awful, draining swamp.  It's like a clearing. It's peaceful here. I’m strangely calm. I feel a stronger sense of purpose and a weird burgeoning energy.  “Why?” you mutter, and I continue…because writing this and passing on the "idea" is cathartic...

Making my complaint has meant analysing and judging how I and my fellow villagers and our Councillors are behaving.  I'd heard residents talk about it bully tactics and I sort of believed them but it was all nebulous.  But now I've witnessed it myself - the lies, duplicity, weedling and plotting.  I can't say more, you know why - "The Case is ongoing".  But the detail and content is not crucial here, you'll see why this is about process.... and there is light at the end....

Whilst compiling my Official Complaint, on the Form Provided, I’ve occasionally lifted my eyes to the TV, heard the radio from the kitchen, or responded to news alerts on my phone. Doing so, I see and hear the regional, national and global version of my little local issue.  There they are our country-folk, our international brothers and sisters and our elected representatives breaking bad and breaking good behaviour.  It's 24-7 on our Social and not so Social Media.  It’s the same damned play, on a bigger stage, with different bloomin actors!  

Recognise this?  At worst there’s tribal behaviour, bully tactics, fake claims, misrepresentation, untruths peddled as fact, deliberate avoidance tactics, shouting, tears, personal insults and blind anger.  At best, thank goodness and I do mean goodness, there’s also a calm, respectful, integrity in dialogues where listening is balanced with talking. Amongst the noise blitz from the breaking bad, we find the breaking good as we hear more objective, evidence-based arguments and, occasionally, the willingness to shift an opinion and an honesty in realising a mistake has been made, saying sorry and moving on.  We witness see this on all sides of politics and not just in my village - it's global - isn't it?

The bigger, national and global view
I'm seeing, in this bigger picture, something else. The dangerous tribal behaviour is not between the Left and the Right or the #Brexiteers and #Remainers, the Democrats and Republicans (fill in with the other tribes you know...) No the real tribes are the Reasonable Rational and the Unreasonable Irrational and these warriors do lurk within all political and activist tribes all over the world.  The important point is - the Reasonable Rational are good for us and the Unreasonable Irrational are bad for us, especially when they, as they tend to do, drift into abuse and bullying.  So, to make distinguishing between these tribes easier I’ll label the Reasonable Rational GOOD and the Unreasonable Irrational BAD.   The good are critical thinkers and moral scientists - they discuss to find ways forward for a long, long time and they resist anger.  The bad are knee-jerk, grabbers of opinions that fit their view, skewers of truth, facts and prepared to be immoral to win, at all costs.  We must applaud the Reasonable Rational, even when we disagree with what they say.

My fear, shared by my closest friends (real and virtual) is that the BAD are winning.  My darkest fear is they will win if they are not challenged. Unchallenged they destroy the balance of our lives. They mess up our villages an towns.  They are literally, destroying the planet.  So, in this BLOG and elsewhere I'm arguing, in a GOOD way, that we work to establish a more Consensual Leadership at all levels by educating ourselves to be reasonable and rational... but I digress.... follow my thinking on Consensual Leadership in the The Original BLOG or in A Calmer Education Focussed Article more to follow....

How 7 Principles of Public Life might help.
Whilst these actors were moving, strutting and shaking around our stages, locally, nationally, and internationally.. some breaking bad and others breaking good, I rediscovered a document.  I once signed it and knew it well.  Finding it again has been my handrail to sanity See Page 3 of Ethical Standards Document  It includes the statutory "Code of Conduct of people in public office".  It's a charter for the GOOD and a huge challenge for the BAD.

The 7 principles are:

·         Selflessness
·         Integrity
·         Objectivity
·         Accountability
·         Openness
·         Honesty
·         Leadership

Here's the link to our local Complaint Form" based on the 7 Principles.  The document helped me check that what I'm thinking and writing about my complaint against a set of solid criteria (I'm resisting a plug for The iAbacus here - note no link - but the Code would make an excellent template!)

You too can use the 7 Principles to complain when others are behaving badly.. They apply to anyone and everyone who works as a public office-holder, or is elected or appointed to public office, nationally and locally.  There are also procedures to hold them account for their conduct through investigation and inquiry. Check your Local Authority/MP's Website to find your equivalent. 

I'm now thinking wouldn't it be great if these principles were applied to all of us who venture out into the world of public discourse? Well they can! They can be applied, easily, in our day to day interactions and certainly on and in Social Media. (I will be advising/educating my fellow braves in #WomenEd to use them, where appropriate, to strengthen their brilliant stance on on-line abuse. I've already invited the amazing "Sheffield Trees Action Group" STAG to have a peek and use it with their errant Councillors.... 

So what about our Fulfilling Future?

The priority?  This week-end and the days and weeks ahead are likely to be the most important many of us will ever spend.  How our MPs think and vote on our future is under hourly study.  Millions, of UK citizens are preparing to march again, protest, hold rallies, leaflet drop or discuss with neighbours and friends. Many are new activists and for some it will be their first political act and, yes, talking to a neighbour can be a political act. Go do it I say.  Indeed, let's all do it more but but but we are better when we do it reasonably and respectfully, in line with those 7 GOOD Principles.

Go small?  We know that in families and relationships there are women, girls, men and boys children who are suffering under Unreasonable Irrational Bullies.  They need help - the 7 principles and the notion of Consensual Leadership can provide a handrail to thinking.....

Go global? Look wider than the UK and we see see people, active politically.  Look what's happening in France this week-end!  If course it's right when people rise up to challenge their representatives' thinking rising up but we must be worried about how some of us, some of them, the BAD conduct themselves.  We the GOOD must use our precious present to achieve a fulfilling future by challenging the BAD? Why?  Because aggressive behavior is not an argument. Oppression and power are not reason. Anger, bullying, coercion is the pathetic response when the rational argument, the temper, the love, is lost.

What is point? Well, it’s deceptively simple as the very best things often are.  I’m suggesting we all keep to the Code of Conduct for Public Life.  I am challenging anyone and everyone, who had the determination to read this far, to consider making an Official Complaint against anyone in public office who breaches the Code of Conduct, as I'm doing.  

Incidentally, I decided to do so only after I'd offered to discuss a way forward with the councillor.  This was refused, with more bile, as was all future contact. That was even more unacceptable and great evidence for the complaint. 


We cannot work for a better future in our villages, towns, cities, across the UK, EU and the world, when elected officials behave badly.  In some ways mine is a pathetically small issue compared with the upper levels of Brexit and Global Warming.... but it's a small step... and I, for one, intend there to be more - my own and maybe yours? Remember,

“All that is required for evil to prevail, is for good men and women to do nothing”

Go do!

I am willing to collaborate with anyone who wants to promote these standards in a voluntary or professional capacity.  If interested contact me via

John Pearce in calmer mood

John Pearce

Further Information
The 7 principles of public life apply to anyone who works as a public office-holder, or is elected or appointed to public office, nationally and locally.  They apply to the civil service, local government, the police, the courts and probation services, non-departmental public bodies, health, education, social and care services.  They have legal force to all sectors that deliver public services.

They are the foundation of the MP's Code of Conduct and can be found on the websites, or required of all County, Borough, District and Parish Councils.

For further information on the 7 principles and the work of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, visit the Committee’s website and blogsite

#MPs #BREXITDEAL #BreakingGood #JOB70 #WomenEd #HeForShe #StandardsInPublicLife
#Consensual Leadership #STAG

Saturday, 17 November 2018


After reading Katherine Langrish's Brexit parody of the Jabberwock - I just had to add a few verses....

Katherine Langrish....

T’was Brexit, and the slithy Gove
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe,
All flimsy were the Faragists,
And the Rees-Moggs outgrabe.

Beware the squirming Gove, my son –
The lying tongue, the claws that catch,
Beware the frumious Boris bird –
Out for whatever it can snatch!

Who now will face it down, my son –
The Brexit-Beast with eyes of flame?
Oh who will seize a vorpal sword, 
And cleave the monstrous thing in twain?

John Pearce....

O horror that this Brexit-Beast
Has gobbleshagged with deadly strife
Beboggling the very weak and poor
Whose crosses gave it life!

“O fractious day! Call-off! Delay!”
Let’s meet to plot at Marble Arch.
“The Brexit-Beast won’t have its way
We’ll Brandish, bannering on a People’s March”.

   In uffish thought and protest we’ll stand, 
Burbling speechingly they came!
Whiffling, chanting Lammy-Chukka fans 
   Remoaners all, with eyes of flame,

Then Lucas, Khan and Cable chortling
With Soulbury, Wollaston EU-mourning
With Delia, Meden and celebs
Howling, “Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?”

One vote, then two! And through then through 
Our vorpal blades will snicker-snack.
And all at once we’ll know
The House of Common Sense is back!

T’will be brillig in the Euroglades. O joy!
When the Brexit-Beast is dead and slain.
Gallumping girls and Beamish Boys
Will be Mimsy when we sway Remain…

John Pearce (after Katherine Langrish and Lewis Carroll)