West Wales News Review — analysis with a sustainability slant

Celebs Reach the People who Ignore the Plebs

by Pat Dodd Racher, October 10 2012

One celebrity is worth more than 2,579 plebs.

OK, I have just made this statement up, but I think there are several grains of truth in it. By plebs, I mean everyone who is not on the cover of Hello! magazine.

It doesn’t matter how the celebrity achieved their fame/notoriety, what counts is their recognition factor. Get a celeb on your side, and your cause will be taken a lot more seriously.  Joanna Lumley and the Ghurkas, Princess Diana and land mines, Hugh Grant, Charlotte Church et.al. and phone hacking….

Thinking back over the plans to close a small comprehensive school in rural Wales, the missing ingredient in the opposition campaign, and I apologise for hurting anyone’s feelings, was a Mega Celeb. Not an MP, or a VIP, or a Lord, but anyone off the telly, preferably a star with the additional exposure of Strictly Come Dancing, leading a march to County Hall…. now that would have made the headlines. If a celeb picks holes in the closure arguments, the powers-that-be are taken aback and listen, even modify their plans. If Mr Morgan the pig farmer or Mrs Evans the baker, known in their communities but never once starring in the media, point out those same holes, no one takes any notice.

Reluctantly, I have come to think that if you want to change some official policy, you have to elicit the backing of a star-dusted celeb.

In the case of the school in question, Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn/ Llandovery High School, who could have persuaded the education authority, Carmarthenshire County Council, to offer a more attractive policy than building a new school 13 miles away? Maybe a star of the TV drama series about a comprehensive school, Waterloo Road? If only Lisa Riley, actress in Waterloo Road and also a bubbly contestant in Strictly Come Dancing 2012, had been born in Llandovery, rather than Bury!

When I was at school, I learned to rely on the power of logical argument. I now know that to be hopeless. What matters in the real world is celeb power to mesmerise the Establishment.

So, do you run with the star-struck reality or stick with the weak persuasive power of logic? If no celebs are forthcoming, there’s no option, but don’t expect to win.

The 2,579 people who signed a petition against the closure of Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn were completely disregarded by the education authority, which said that “due to the unsustainability” of the request, it “could not be included in the statutory proposals”. *

And that was that.

*’The Statutory Proposals for the Transformation and Re-configuration of Secondary Education in the Dinefwr Area of Carmarthenshire’, Carmarthenshire County Council, July 4 2011.


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