Friday, 19 March 2010
A little group of us went off to the Grand at 6pm and stood, very nicely, outside, holding our placards and giving out leaflets. The manager came out and asked us what we were doing and was fine with us being there as long as we were quiet and not obstructing the entrance or pavement, and then a little later a couple of police officers came along and stopped to talk. There was a really nice atmosphere about it and, given I still have that nasty virus, it was good not to have to shout and bang things for a change.
A lot of the people we spoke to were really interested and many hadn't even heard about the closures of our 3 schools. A couple of people actually said they would put a question in about the schools.
As time drew on Victoria went in and asked if there were any tickets left - and, amazingly, there was a ticket for everyone who wanted to go in.
The show was probably one of the most boring I have ever heard.
William Hague wittered on about that lord who gives them loads of money, is their deputy chair or something, and doesn't even pay tax in the UK. Most of the panelists were quite happy to spend the full program on that one question it seemed - probably because it was pretty safe and there's nothing new to say about it.
So they only managed another 3 or 4 questions and none at all about education even though Chris Pickering was chosen and wanted to ask why we weren't increasing higher education spending like every other country does in recession.
By far the best member of the panel was Bea Campbell of the Green Party. I spoke with her afterwards and liked her a lot, she's a very intelligent and thoughtful speaker.
At the end I watched Ed Balls putting on his jacket as if he was going to rush out before anyone had a chance to ask him anything difficult and I was so determined that he wasn't going to get away without at least knowing that someone wanted to challenge him on education that I grabbed one of the placards in my bag (the one with "Protect our Children, Safeguard our schools" and the names of all three schools, City of Leeds, Parklands and Primrose) and shouted from the balcony.
I definitely got his attention and a good round of applause from the audience.
As we left we discovered, much to our surprise, that there was a reception for the audience to meet the panel so, instead of rushing home as we had planned, we talked to Bea Campbell and then Victoria approached Ed Balls.
Ed Balls admitted to putting pressure on Education Leeds although not about specific schools.
After a few minutes of talking, mainly about City of Leeds, he said he would be pleased to meet with us at another time (he has previously ignored invites from staff, governors and our MP, Hilary Benn, to visit and speak to people from City of Leeds) and gave us an email to contact him on.
Will he meet with us?
Or will he prove me right and is everything he says just pure Ballshit?
Only time, and a couple of emails, will tell.