“When I saw it again, it looked like a comedy skit” Jackie Weaver on fame and creating better politics
Jackie Weaver first appeared on our screens when this Handforth council meeting went viral. The heated exchange caught the nation’s attention after several participants proclaimed she “has no authority”.
Praised for her handling of furious councilors who yelled at her, Jackie has become synonymous with endurance in the face of open hostility. The social media superstar has since appeared on TV, opened last year’s Brit Awards, turned on the Christmas lights and has a host of celebrity supporters.
One of them is Jeremy Vine, who came to her defense after an investigation into that infamous council meeting revealed that Jackie lacked authority. After all, the report was sympathetic towards her, however, as it stated, “In the face of unusual and difficult circumstances, and the deep issues underlying those circumstances, we can understand why Jackie Weaver acted the way she did. did, although his action had no formal basis in terms of proper process and procedure.
Jackie is Chief Executive of the Cheshire Local Councils Association. She is also a strong supporter of Parliament 50/50, campaigning for a better gender balance in Parliament. She is passionate about raising awareness of the role of counselors and is also a strong ambassador for Compassion In Politics. This organization seeks to lower the temperature of aggressive political debate and usher in softer politics.
In an exclusive interview with Jackie, we talked about politics today, what can be changed, and how communities can work together to be more citizens.
You are an ambassador of compassion in politics. What is it and why is it important to you?
It’s nice to be part of an organization that has the same philosophy as me. One of the things that really keeps people away from politics is the kind of thing they see in the House of Commons. So what I’m looking for is actually a little more kindness around those relationships where we can have a solid debate. It’s not like a new hippie movement, we demand people tell the truth.
What do you think of PMQs where there doesn’t seem to be a lot of talking but rather a lot of shouting?
I don’t remember exactly when PMQs were televised. I was hoping at the time that it would improve the behavior because you were putting the spotlight on it. But in fact, it seems to be the opposite. And it’s almost like the politicians think that’s what we want. It is ultimately a performance. Now they [politicians] clearly think that’s what their audience wants to see, because if you’re a public figure and you’re giving a performance, you’ll clearly want to appeal to the audience that presumably brought you there in the first place.
But this is not the case. This is not party political commentary. Tories and Labor are literally as bad as each other. I was absolutely ashamed when we had a high ranking female politician [Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow First Secretary of State] stand up and call the Conservatives ‘scum’. It is absolutely appalling.
How can we break out of divisive politics, lower the temperature of discourse, and improve the current state of politics?
It starts with the choice of candidates by the electorate. I think it’s time we turned to politicians and asked, “Do they reflect my values and do what I think is right for this country?” “. I don’t care about the color [political affiliation] they are, red, blue or anything in between. I wonder if maybe we’re getting there the wrong way.
Because voter apathy is at an all time high and I see a ripple effect for that in local democracy which interests me more than in national politics. I think people feel they can’t influence what happens in the House or in Parliament. And they’re right, that’s why I try to encourage people to get involved in local politics because that’s where you’ll make a difference. Maybe we need to take the lead and demonstrate that it’s when you behave like a civilized person, even if you fundamentally disagree with this other point of view, that we can make a difference.
The other thing is that it’s laziness. It’s much easier to make a personal attack than to persuade people of your way of thinking.
We need to talk about that meeting where your calm demeanor in the face of open hostility catapulted you to the rank of national hero. How did you feel when you first watched the playback recording?
I was shocked, which might sound like a really weird thing to say. But when you experience it at the reunion and it was two months before it went viral, you’re incredibly busy. It sounds silly because you’re listening to people talk. But in fact, it started as a game of chess.
So he was constantly trying to be one step ahead. Busy screen, names of people I didn’t know, difficulty telling the difference between elected officials and members of the public, there was a lot going on. So even though I knew their behavior was awful, it wasn’t until I watched it later, when it went viral, that I thought, ‘What was it? What did I miss?’
It didn’t really strike me as the kind of thing that would really capture everyone’s attention. So I saw him again and their behavior was surprising. My husband and I are very calm and quiet people. We don’t argue. If we don’t agree on something, we tend to go to our separate corners for a while and then come back. If I say, “No, I don’t agree with something,” then he knows I’m going to walk away and think about it.
I don’t live with any aggression or hostility, I have a very calm life in that sense. So meeting someone who was so mad that it was… ‘Can we sit down and talk about this? You’re going to have heart attacks before you’re 50. humor [about the Zoom meeting] was the game of almost cartoonish advisors. If it was something that was set up, I think you’d believe it was staged.
It was theatrical, as if they were all playing a role. In the middle of the rambling counselor, the next thing we have is one of the older statesmen trying to say something profound and saying, “The President of the Council is the President of the Council.”
When I saw it again, it looked like a comedy sketch.
Are you in contact with any of the original attendees of that infamous Zoom meeting?
Yes, because they still have the same clerk with whom I am in regular contact because my work supports them. I turned on their Christmas lights, was asked to go back and do something else in terms of promoting a charity. And three of the advisers are still there, the other three, I think you know which ones, they’re gone. This relationship is back to normal.
You put parish council meetings on the map. This caused a number of people to Google “How to be a Parish Counselor”. What do you think of inspiring a generation to be more citizens?
Wow, if I had that claim to fame, I would embrace it wholeheartedly. I have worked with local councils for 25 years. We have had so many initiatives over the years that have never managed to attract media attention to parish town councils. So if I did something to try to make them visible to a wider community, then I’m really happy about that.
What advice can you give to someone who wants to be more assertive in a Zoom meeting?
I work very hard to compartmentalize things. So I try to be very clear about my objective or purpose, for a particular meeting (not for everyone). If I go to a meeting and there’s something important on the agenda, then that’s what I focus on. I take this up in my book, because it is a very important point.
If you are considering becoming a councilor or want more information about the world involved, visit the National Association of Local Councils.