Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Voices from the past

October 2014 The Planner - the business monthly for neoliberal planners
October 2014 The Planner - the business monthly for Tory planners

You know, when I received my own personal copy of The Planner the other day - 'the business monthly for planning professionals' as they call it - a cloud of gloom darkened my Auchterness sky. It was immediately obvious that while this issue seemed to be about 100 years of planning it was actually just about one important question:
  1. how can the profiles and reputations of the various dreadful people writing in this issue be restored given that most planners thought they were either dead or had retired many years ago?
So the theme of the issue is actually 'How can we get a bit of publicity for ourselves and give the impressions that we are switched on and care about what other planners think?'. Well that is a big ask isn't it?  The dry boke seemed imminent but luckily the tea trolley came round and settled me down again.

Take the article 'Who Leads Planning?' by Vincent Goodstadt. Now I remember Vincent from years ago though he won't remember me - he worked for Strathclyde Regional Council while I worked up the road at the SDA (now Scottish Enterprise) when it was at 120 Bothwell Street in Glasgow.

Quite frankly, his article was a severe shock for me. Yes it is full of cliches and management speak. It's another of these 'if I ruled the world' top-down perspectives that is patronising and remote. But it is full of spell-binding phrases that completely trump current planning jargon. Let's have a look:
reconnect with ethical and social foundations, bridge the gap between power and responsibility, step up its response, continuous virtual progression, regulatory creep, adversarial environment, seismic shifts, a managerialist culture (!), divided political and economic cultures, collaborative plaice leadership, supersede the silo and turf war culture, political football, draw a line in the sand, tokenistic checklist, bridge the chasm, short-term sticking plaster, etc etc
Amazing! I have never heard anyone speak like this! It was as if someone was pouring warm milk into my ears! Now some may say that it is the dreary mood-music of planning in 2014 - exactly the sort of thing that turns people off. But I found it to be intensely stimulating! Goodstadt has redefined the cliches of the profession before anyone could even say Use Classes Order! Well done Vinnie!

I noticed too that our leader in Scotland, Wee Craigie McLaren, has a nice wee feature in which he talks about light bulbs, stakeholders, enablers, facilitators and eureka moments. It's heady stuff and not for the faint-hearted. I'm sure he wrote it wearing his Sevco scarf! Later, we hear from John McNairney, Chief Planner with the Scottish Government that there are 'opportunities as well as challenges'. Well I'm completely amazed by this stunning insight!

Forbye these high spots, this issue of The Planner is a vile Tory rag. Stealing other people's ideas and re-badging them seems to be part of the culture of this rotten journal.  But perhaps we are all guilty of that from time to time. I know plenty of folk in Scottish Enterprise who've made careers for themselves doing it. The dreadful creepy advertisements from various planning consultancies congratulating the RTPI on its glorious 100 years made by stomach heave. I'm sure they all paid a hefty fee for the privilege of sending their best wishes to this pathetic organisation. It's all part of the incestuous back-slapping that is typical of organisations on the slide. Oh and another thing - a disgusting full page photograph of Prince Charles with a good coating of make-up hiding his grim flagellated features! Such ingratiating brown-nosing is typical of the Institute. Pathetic!

You know, it didn't take me long to decide what to do about all this. I threw this awful magazine on the floor of my office and stamped on it many times. I then went through to reception and asked Wee Heather for her big pair of scissors. I cut it into little pieces then went to the Executive Lavatory and flushed it away. I immediately felt better.

I'll be back with more exciting insight as soon as I can. I know that my fans can't wait for more news from the world of planning. Have a great week and remember, if you're passing Auchterness do come in for a natter. You can have a cup of tea and a biscuit - Gipsy Creams this week. Cheeriebye for now!

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