An open letter to our politicians from the Upper Norwood Library Campaign

“Sadly there are people like yourself who are constantly suggesting that the library will close due to personal political ideology and I find this very sad that you will play for political gain at the expence [sic] of really supporting a well deserved cause.” (Cllr Robert Askey)

Let’s be absolutely clear from the outset. We want fairness not politics. The Upper Norwood Library Campaign is firmly and scrupulously apolitical. But being apolitical does not mean it is politically naive. Moreover, the Campaign has a right to lobby those people who are able to influence change and to express publicly any view that is covered by justification, privilege or fair comment, without being labelled political or accused of playing political games just because that action is unpalatable. Perhaps you’d like to correct us where we are wrong. We would welcome debate.

By definition, politicians practice politics. Playing political games, if that is how politics is conducted, is a matter between politicians. We treat the current situation at Upper Norwood Library with the seriousness it deserves. Thus we expect the Councillors on the Joint Committee to have a prime responsibility to UNJL rather than to their local authority or political party.

Of course, terms wearing the label ‘apolitical’ – ‘common values’, ‘fairness’, ‘merit’, ‘colour blind’, ‘free speech’, ‘reason’ – are in fact the ideologically charged constructions of a decidedly political agenda. The point is not to level an accusation, but to remove the sting of accusation from ‘politics’ and redefine it as a synonym for what everyone inevitably does. It is just not possible for any party or individual to occupy a position above or beyond politics. That said, the Upper Norwood Library Campaign is firmly and scrupulously apolitical. You see, Upper Norwood Joint Library is an issue that goes far beyond the politics, and must be seen on its own merits if an apposite and viable solution is to be brought about.

The Upper Norwood Library Campaign represents the users. We take exception to assertions that it is taking a political stance. It most definitely is not. The Campaign will work co-operatively with anyone, whatever their political persuasion, creed or anything else, if they support the aims and objectives of the Campaign*. If there is any beneficial spin off or collateral effect, then that is neither contrived nor naive. So be it.

The Campaign understands very clearly the influence that it can have in the local area and its belief is to inform but not dictate, to give unbiased information. The Campaign is apolitical, non-religious, there to benefit the community by providing information and allowing the public to make up its own mind. In a democratic society, this ideal should be given the respect it deserves.

Be warned. The Campaign regards seriously any allegation or implication of it adopting a political stance and siding with any political party, and will treat any such statements made in public as libel or slander, and press for a legal remedy.

*   The objectives of the organisation are:

a)   To keep under review the services provided by the Upper Norwood Joint Library.

b)    To inform library users, the local community and the media about any developments affecting those services.

c)    To maintain contact with the Joint Library Committee and staff, the borough councils responsible, Members of Parliament and government and non-governmental bodies concerned with a view to ensuring that the quality and range of library services are maintained and improved.

d)    To ensure that the Library receives proper and fair funding according to the Joint Agreement