|Mary Portas in Margate|
I watched and took part in a massive national Twitter discussion which labelled the people of Margate as 'Vile,' 'backward,' 'ungrateful' and far worse and witnessed the good work of a great many people, swamped by a tide of criticism and negativity that may take some time from which to recover.
To be honest, I really think that Tracy Emin's contribution for a slogan for the town, only served to make matters worse and drag the popular opinion of Margate deeper into the cultural gutter of last night. I can now quite understand why Tracy is an eccentric artist and doesn't work in marketing but I guess we should be grateful that she didn't come-up with "Visit Margate for a really good ***" but it was uncomfortably close.
'St Mary,' as we might describe her, focusing sharply on the desperate, run-down, tatty state of Margate High Street, made almost a passing reference to the Turner Contemporary and said absolutely nothing about a thriving Old Town which is a great example of what can be achieved with investment and imagination.
a story at the time, I saw how it was developing and I even wrote a rather cynical blog entry, which my wife convinced me to delete for fear of provoking a controversy. I now wish I had the courage to have pressed the publish button at the time.
A prize goes to that loose collection of left-wing militants, Occupy and former members of CND that publish 'Thanet Watch' and so convinced Mary Portas, that they expressed the voice of public opinion in rejecting her efforts, rather than simply being a sinister comic with a not-so hidden political agenda.
Several key figures involved in the project did themselves no favours appearing in front of the television cameras but the fears of others were justified in worrying over selective editing, which is indeed what actually took place in the programme, as one might expect. People may have been naive in believing that their views had any real weight on a national prime-time reality TV programme. It' was all about Mary and Margate was, I'm afraid was simply a coincidental backdrop to the script and the Daily Mail story hasn't helped either.
I'm writing this early, because a little later I have been invited to go and give an interview for the BBC's Sunday Politics Show. Quite why they want to speak with me than someone higher-up the political food chain I really can't fathom but from several years working with other broadcasters in the past, I'm sure the results will come as a surprise. You may have a good laugh at my expense on Sunday!