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North Wales Reclaimed – What Next?

October 1, 2009

Making a differenceHinckley, England – 10,000 bikers can’t  be wrong and that’s the number, police confirmed, that turned up to support the UK paper Motorcycle News (MCN) campaign to highlight biker dissatisfaction with the North Wales police treatment of the motorcycle community.

The passion for getting in on the action with biking politics has been rekindled. But what, when where next? Suggestions have included reclaiming the whole of the UK by a mass ride from Lands End to John O Groats, reclaiming Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and even Dorset. Looks like there are some pretty disgruntled bikers out there at the moment. But hold on a moment let’s have a look, if a bit critically, at what’s been achieved and what could be achieved.

MCN have been criticised for being a bit thin on the ground staff wise in North Wales, well that’s not really surprising as the team at Peterborough is pretty small and you need a lot of people to get around 10,000 attendees. We live in lean times so the free publicity generated for MCN and Bauer Media, the owners of MCN, must have been a factor in their floating the Reclaim North Wales (RNW) thing. That said RNW has done the biking community no harm, if nothing else a few people have met each other who might otherwise have not.

Publicity is the stumbling block for me. RNW got covered by MCN, other bike printed media and on the web, but it didn’t get much coverage in the national papers or other media. The BBC Wales coverage was a nice plant by the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) who seemed to have claimed most of the credit for setting the thing up. In short we failed to maximise coverage in media that the general public read. Media wise we were just reassuring ourselves that something had been achieved and a message passed to the people who can sort our issue.  We missed out on the public sentiment factor. Are we sure our message was delivered in person and in hard copy to the Chief Constable of North Wales Police and the Chair of the Police Authority?

On the subject of the representative groups, BMF and the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the 10,000 present  at RNW is the equivalent of around half of there combined individual membership, but I wonder how many at RNW were members of either body, I’d bet on 5% if pushed for an answer.

Then of course we have the oppertunisters. These are the people currently circling the RNW concept seeking ways of parting you from your hard earned cash or worse your political aspirations by fair means or foul. All those biking goods and services and political thingy’s you don’t really need but could be persuaded you do.

I’m a great supporter of the one off single issue group, like RNW, KillSpills and No To Westminster Parking Fees. Internet based and using a dedicated website or the likes of Twitter and Facebook to get organised, build support and inform such groups are extremely difficult for ‘the governing authority’ to handle. Often these groups bring grass roots passion to issues that the existing ‘representative bodies’ ignore or fail to connect with.

BMF and MAG are facing a huge disconnect from the majority of riders, if actions not taken they will wither away. Perhaps no bad thing some may say. To be replaced, perhaps, by small groups focusing on a particular issue and co-operating with each other when necessary with communication via the internet. No more BMF and MAG long winded policy documents and endless committee pontificating. Just issue identification and action. Natural leaders will come forward who by common consent could represent on issues a necessary.  Not you being told by your supposed representatives what you want but you telling the Government direct.

We are moving towards a new form of Government with the use of petitions, on line voting and consultations and in particular a proportional voting system. Allowing the current fringe parties a toehold in Parliament. So why not an MP representing motorcyclists. An ambitious thought but one worth holding.

A  journey begins with the first turn of the wheel.

© Back Roads Rider 2009

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Steve Newton permalink
    May 18, 2010 11:27 pm

    Calling all Bikers.
    At the election just gone, I stood as a candidate for UKIP in Chatham and Aylesford, in Kent.I didn’t get in. If we can persuede enough people in the future to vote UKIP, and I get elected, then I’ll be your MP representing Motorcyclists. Email me.

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