Monday, October 31, 2005

There's no business like Roadshow business

Andy Burnham's details of the Biometric Roadshow are enlightening, and prompt a multitude of follow-on questions.

Compare, for example, (or in B-Movie speak, "Be Per-plexed!") these two statements:

"The series of road shows was developed to build public awareness of the imminent changes to the passport..."


"It would not have been able to accommodate a larger audience, had the road shows been publicised more widely [than the local media, a day in advance]."

In fact, despite Burnham's wishes for publicity ("I look forward to seeing as many people as possible as the roadshow travels round the country.") he seems to have done everything in his power to ensure that people only happen fortuitously upon the stall:

"Notice of the road shows was provided to local media [but no others] the working day before each event."

"The dates and locations of the road shows were not released to the public in advance."

"...the road show stand was designed to attract passers-by (e.g. shoppers) and the local media. It would not have been able to accommodate a larger audience..."

I never took architectury at school, so naturally I can't figure out a building-size-to-capacity correlation. From my vague A-level Physics knowledge, I seem to recall that if you want more space to put stuff, you have to build a bigger thing to hold it. Burnham et al seem to have missed this trick, and managed to design a stand to hold a relatively small number of looker-onners. Oops.

I'm also intrigued by this bit:

"As is usual practice, Ministers' movements are not confirmed in advance for security reasons."

Someone please enlighten me as to why we aren't allowed to know what any of our public ministers are up to in advance? Have anger levels really reached that point where screaming, naked NO2ID protestors are likely to run amok in a shopping centre, daubing Andy Burnham's face with barcode paint and shocking old grannies into submission by shouting "Nothing to hide! Nothing to hide!"

Or are far more mundane acts of inapproriateness (such as leafleting) included in this attack on our upright Ministers' "security" (being read alternatively as "embarassment").

As the BBC suggest, the roadshow was a nice attempt that seemed "to be preaching to the converted". But are the general public converted, or merely undecided? The decreasing popularity of the ID system perhaps indicates the latter, in which case the roadshow can onyl be seen as damage limitation.

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