Trash talk in City of Culture bid: We should not stoop to his level
THERE are several ways to approach a competition – talk your rivals down or talk yourself up.
David Amess clearly favours the former.
He is the MP for Southend West and when asked about his home town's 10 rivals for City of Culture 2017 - including Plymouth – he said many: "wouldn't know culture if it was put in front of them".
He then went on to say: "I have looked at some of the competition and frankly they are absolute dumps some of them."
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He is now rowing back from his comments and has failed to specify exactly which are the 'dumps' among the list of Aberdeen, Chester, Dundee, East Kent, Hastings and Bexhill-on-Sea, Hull, Leicester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Swansea Bay and, of course, Plymouth.
When The Herald put him on the spot he admitted he couldn't remember ever having visited Plymouth – so much for his credentials as a judge for City of Culture let alone his responsibility as an MP to serve the best interests of this country as a whole.
The fact is all the places on the list, as well as Southend-on-Sea, have merits and strengths. Not least, they all have the ambition to bid for the same prize that we would so dearly love to win.
However, we do not need to stoop to the level of Mr Amess to prove we are the right choice to be named UK City of Culture 2017.
What we need to do is focus on our own unique and compelling qualities as a proud, creative and varied city in an outstandingly beautiful setting. We need to come together and show our support for this bold move and that is why The Herald is publicly backing the bid and is calling on our readers to voice your support.
There is, of course, another way to approach a competition such as this and that is to talk yourself down in the expectation of failure. For some, this is the easiest and by far the safest approach as it demands no commitment, no imagination and no risk. But the next time somebody tells you Plymouth has no place bidding for national recognition as a centre of cultural excellence or, like Mr Amess, they say this city is a dump, ask them what they are doing to build a better future.