Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Beam me up.

It has been... another... long day.

So I was in an odd mood when a student asked me to fill out some questions on Social Enterprise.

While there are many good examples I have come across, there are still way too many who know how to play the game and are supported by a system too lazy and inept to make the effort to really get the money where it will do the most good.

Here are the questions, along with my, often rather flip but still honest, answers:


1. Why do you feel there has been such a dramatic increase in the number of social enterprises over recent years?

We’ve pretty much messed the place up, so for our kids’ sake some feel it’s worth trying to get it back on track. Others see it as a nice comfy little earner, or nice on the resume.

2. Why do you feel the work carried out by social enterprises is so vital to the UK?

Because the more traditional bodies, such as government, have, are and will make a total fist of it as those in charge and those joining public service are no longer doing so with the primary aim of serving the public.

3. Do you think social enterprises are the best way forward to meet the social needs of the UK population – please state why?

Possibly. Yes because most efforts succeed mainly by being what people need and want, and hence get supported by those they are there trying to help. No if, and by my experience, when some simply see it as a way to pursue agendas more motivated by personal gain rather than any real social improvement.

4. How successful do you feel social enterprises have been in solving the social problems of local communities or society in general?

Some... a lot. Most.... Not so hot. Many simply add whole new layers of cost and interference into already crowded and under-funded areas.

5. Do you think the public and private sectors fail to fully address and satisfy the social needs of the UK and why?
(if yes, proceed to question 10, if no proceed to question 11)

Yes. Public by seeking to meet targets and career agendas rather than needs. Private by being way too short-term and looking only at the bottom line.

6. Do you believe the public and/or private sectors have the capabilities to fully accommodate for the social needs? – please provide details

Public... no. Not any more. The systems have been corrupted by the process being more important than the product... or service. Private... possibly. But it needs a real shift in bottom line mindsets that impact personal career developments in that sector.


7. How does this organisation compete for sources of income considering the competitiveness within the social economy is increasing?

Badly! It’s not what you are, but who you know. And how well you let box tickers tick the boxes and sign off the readies rather than any real attempt at creating viable social ROIs.

8. What is the main source of income the organisation receives?


9. Is there a procedure in place in the event of a lack of funding?

Dig deeper into personal bank account.

10. Do you feel there has been a significant change in the amount of support or funding provided by the public and corporations?

Yes, There seems to be a lot more about, but they still seem to keep most of it to themselves first building empires and armies of bean-counters before any gets doled out where it does the most good. And do corporations fund anything that is not their mate’s wife’s hairdresser’s favourite charity to look good at CSR report time in the annual AGM? Or what makes them more profit?


11. What are the main challenges faced by the organisation from both a short term and long term aspect?

Competition from those funded by government and quangos to unfairly compete on what should not be a commercial basis. Intellectual property raiding by private sector.

12. Are there any strategic plans in place to reduce or eliminate the impact these challenges could potentially have on the organisation?

Yes. If you can’t get them to join you, beat them and hope they rain on some other person’s parade. Win the public, and you win. There’s always the vote. For now.

Al a kazam! Al a kaboom! Al a can't be bovvered...

Newsnight - Tuesday, 27th March, 2007

Interesting. Which is more than I can say about the Al Gore interview, which doubtless was a BBC 'exclusive'. What did he offer? 2 minutes between more important meetings?

Other than a few side mentions, almost 100% of responses to last night's programme are concerned with poverty, which may have a part to play in my area of interest (other than wondering if it is a mandatory to be Scottish to get into government and/or be a spokesperson these days - if so, sign me up. I am, at least half), which is the environment and how to just keep it ticking along, and with luck tickedy boo.

So it seems we may have to call in Al.

I have lately weathered a lot of blog storms (sorry and sorry for the puns) about the issues of climate change, post IPCC and Ch4/Durkin, and Mr. Gore's role in it all has popped up on occasion.

It has not been pretty. I'm afraid this piece didn't scrub up much better.

For a start, the programme was launched with Mr. Gore quoted as saying the US could learn a lesson from the UK Government.

Sadly it was not too clear what that was. Hopefully it is not saying to the population to do one thing whilst those doing the saying don't feel it really can or should apply to them.

Mr. Gore was mildly tasked on this aspect of leadership by example. At least on his electricity consumption, which he had a good chance to field, and did so fairly comprehensively; though saying something is a lie and not really saying where sets up some red flags. Personally I thought he would have been better advised to point out that as his is not exactly a two-up, two down family home and as he runs his office from it (with staff), there is likely a bit more than a microwave and TV left on standby in there.

Sadly we did not go on to find out why him flying (if indeed he does) by private jet is necessary thanks to a busy schedule that the rest of us apparently do not suffer from. I'm off next month to Geneva and simply can't wait to get in that aluminium tube and see what I can catch in the 90 minute flight from row 22b. But the price and time advantage vs. a train was simply too great to enjoy the slooooow travel now promoted by all our offsetting travel writers with places to eventually get to, and people to sponge off.

So we're winning the war on climate change? When EU ministers think their 4x4 is OK but yours is not, and then vote to let even more planes shuttle back and forth to the US, along with Air Force Gore, of course. Not.

I was also very surprised how unconvincing he was. He droned, dealt out dry facts and frankly didn't look as if he cared a damn what anyone thought.

Maybe the CH4 doco was reckless, but explaining how by just saying 'his' 'experts' are better than 'theirs' is a level of argument my 10 year olds would demolish. And I now have a lot of highly-educated and aware mates tackling me more challengingly on my advocacy, based on being swayed by this show. It's no good just saying they are naughty people and 'we' wear white hats, so we must be right. The small group of sceptics I am aware of seems pretty big to me, outside of the green elite and business leaders with their eyes on a) not being walloped with punitive measures and b) making a nifty profit. These folk only know what they know, and calling them deniers won't help much to change their minds.

The poverty story does make one wonder. Is it just possible a reason that most average people are not as engaged as one would imagine, or hope, is because we are being talked down to mostly by guys who have scored nice little earners but are often shown to be doing so from very dubious and shaky pedestals. I would accept that Mr. Gore is better placed morally than most, as he has form going back a long way. Genuine stuff. But unfortunately for him, and in my view his - and my - cause, he is not the best person to communicate effectively with the general public by dint of personality and personal circumstances. Not his fault, but a simple fact of media life.

The world's mid to low-income consumers really are the only ones that matter when it comes to making the necessary changes in personal choices to in turn help the planet.

Can this nation's 'leaders' (especially, lord help us, the self-anointed 'green elites'), and Mr. Gore for his own country, and all the trendy media who would support them, really put hands on hearts and say their efforts at reaching this majority, much less influence them, have been successful to date? I'd say not.

So we need some new brooms.


ps: Ribena has been fined for its lack of Vitamin C in the iconic drink. That'll teach 'em! I'm guessing about what they make in an hour, right?

pps: I am thinking of taking the Italians to court for war reparations for stuff I am sure happened to my great, great, etc granny, who I'm pretty sure was a Roman comfort woman. Now can we fill five minutes with some spokesperson and critics hauled off the BBC rentamouth crowd to chew on this, please? And anyone who says I can't is a racist, and I demand compo!



The percent you can claim back via tax credits (minus admin costs of an army of pen-pushers with only one personal voting option to stay employed by those who created them) to compensate for what you've had taken directly in tax - a long way shy of a 100, Jimmy!

Taking a private jet to go to an enviro awards ceremony or media opp - worth every tonne, especially if Bono can hitch his hat a ride.

Telling your customers that what's in your product isn't quite what they may actually find - £70k

Taking a bit of distant history and turning it into a divisive conflict tournament for a few days - loadsaratings!

The trust the people now have in government, activists, spokespersons, business... and the media that is meant to keep us informed objectively on their activities - er.... less.

A whole lot less.

ADDENDUM: I was rebutted -


Well one bit out of a few is not too bad! Better than none!

I don't think we are disagreeing too much at all on anything, even what the problems are. But I'm afraid I must offer the opinion that your reply rather makes my point.

I have worked my whole life in media communications. One lesson I learned early on was when we were pitching and my boss said to a client ''I'm afraid you are not understanding my point", to which the client replied: '"And I'm afraid you are not making it clearly enough for me to be persuaded by it. Oh, and I'm the one you want to pay for the consequences of your proposal'.

I would dispute the word wilful totally, but for the purposes of brevity I summarised my feelings, which stand. Without reference to the archive it's hard to get into detail, but that's how it came across ... to me. And another, sad fact of our sound-bite culture. Who has time for the full story... 'when that's all we have time for'.

Be assured, I am keen for most, if not all, of Mr. Gore's views to prevail. But I concern myself that the messenger, and not the message, is at the fore, and there may be some flaws to this that outweigh any earlier gains in 'awareness'.

It is a fundamental aspect of the fight to win hearts and minds, to effect what I see as necessary changes to lifestyles to redirect our futures in a better environmental direction.

I am not telling you you are wrong in your data. How can I? I don't know yet what is fact and what is not. I am simply sharing how I feel. Yet your response has been that I am wrong and it seems I must now change to your way. I'm sorry, but my first instinct is to push back even harder.

I have lived through but been too badly burned by too many flame wars between big-oil-funded deniers and rabid eco-fascists (the only 'camps' that seem to get featured, and hence dominate any public media outlet) to feel like getting into the global warming 'debate' any more, as both can only seemingly operate in the most didactic manner. For the few paras you lob in here I can point you at scores of blog pages that have run to hundreds of posts, pro and con. We seem no further ahead.

For professional reasons I try a lot more than most to understand the problem, to be objective in seeking and sharing the solutions. Many do not have the time or inclination to do so. And they are 'our' audience to convince. If it is all so obvious, how has this failed to happen yet? Are you saying that the masses can't understand, and so don't know what's good for them?
We're getting to points where people are being asked to cut back, and if they are being asked to do so by those who reserve the right not to, or who will suffer in relative terms much less, we are entering eco-farming territory Mr. Orwell would recognise.

Ask the average person in the street what they think of the global warming issue, and I'll be interested in who cites the IPCC report, and who mentions the GGWS, both of which are used by various media to bash on their agendas. And you surely can't be saying that the BBC is not sympathetic to the notions in support of man's influence? But equally it is rather telling that you seem to require that only what you agree with gets shared. Allow debate to take place, and counter in ways that people can understand... and respond to.

I simply feel that those who think they know better then the rest of us are in danger of being more worried about being proved right, than seeing anything right get done by the best folk for the job.


All concerned have a passion that is to be applauded, and some... levels of conviction that are to be envied.

It could however be wished that such knowledge and desires to share are matched with an equal ability to convince, otherwise we are in danger of spinning in one place.

Sadly, it would appear that I suffer from a similar inability to get some to see my key point, which I must accept as a failing on my part. At least I hope I am not using the basis of my facts being the only facts that are valid, as can happen, and would rather deal in what seems to come across more by the evidence of my of my own eyes as I look out the window, and then witnessing what gets traded in blogs such as this.

The thing is, we are usually not debating from opposing sides, or even trying to effect a compromise between differing views.

So I end up agreeing with most of what people believe in and seek to share, if it's what's best for our kids' futures.

I simply question how effective such belief alone often is in effecting the necessary changes in the optimum timescales.

Applying highly simplistic tags to a very complex issue, the 'deniers' have a huge advantage.

They are basically saying 'There's nothing wrong. Or if there is it's not down to us. Or if it was/is there's little we can do now to change it. So just chill out as you warm up, keep on doing what comes naturally and partayyyyy!'

Those who take a different view, including myself, would beg to differ. Speaking personally, I don't really yet pretend to know with certainty whether what we are experiencing is as a result of a climatological natural phenomenon or not, but the visible influences are looking tangible, rather frequent and moving a lot faster than a geological timescale.

Hence I'm operating on the basis that whatever man is doing, we may not be helping. And hence it might be as well to check our headlong rush into potential oblivion.

Which brings us to scale. Do we 'cut back a bit'? Do we stop? Do we reverse? All involve compromise, which to a race with competitive cultures which have evolved into growing economies, is not going to be easy to manage.

So far, I don't think the problem has been sold very well, very consistently or at all convincingly. And with very few solutions that make sense or simply smack of bandwagon jumping. And while there are many sincere folk doing their best to share their messages, and doing so in an inspiring way and with best of practices and personal examples... too many are not.

As it stands, I regret that I think the 'my way or no way' style of persuasion stands a polar bear on a shrinking ice flow's chance of getting Joe Blow out of his aircon car, Fiesta family into a Prius, any Isligtonistas off their ski trip this Easter, or me to concede its OK to just talk loudly without being too concerned whether the message is being received, understood or being acted upon.

A bit like a Brit on holiday abroad. 'Silly foreigners don't see how obvious what I'm saying is'.

Good luck. Over and out.

Now I see why we must stop 4x4s at all costs!

Carbon emissions from power stations soar

Ironically, right next door...

Government to unveil greener cars plan

Right hand, meet left.

BBC - Emissions soar from UK generators

Biter bit?


Tablet facing race complaint

Good job they are unlikely to be up for any senior Conservative spokespersons posts.

Think it. Just don't get caught telling.

Who needs freedom of speech anyway?

Branson's Solar Spaceship Ate My Hamster!

Green visionary or pipe dreamer?

“the 50-year-old entrepreneur has repeatedly managed to get Hollywood celebrities and other investors to join his ventures."

Bong smoker, more like.

Lord spare us from yet more hype based on celebrity obsession fuelled by the media.

Would we even have heard about this but for that para above?

Yes, it would be nice to think it 'could' work, but as with all things green and topical, the one thing that gets forgotten is the enviROI; the cost to the planet.

A bunch of dipsy celebs boost their cred by blowing chump change on something financially unsound but which does make a positive difference is fine by me.

Getting a wadge of PR by consuming vast resources to screw up the planet even more for my kids... no, I don't think so.

DTI, huh, what is it good for? Absolutely...

(to the music of Edwin Starr)

I was just passing this and couldn't resist popping in.

Could the DTI face being broken up?

In light of this question - "What is the DTI for?" Asked its Head of Department in 1989: "I've got bugger all to do, and thousands of staff to help me do it." - and the fact I for one can't see how much has changed since then, I have to ask if the headline question was posed in any way as it should be.

'Can the DTI avoid being erased for the sorry money pit it was, is and always will be', would be more like it.

Apprentice Shi*

I was just watching BBC Breakfast with Sir Alan Sugar explaining the new show's format.

I haven't watched it before. Doubt I will now.

He deems the winner's paths to be a great accolade to the BBC. I must see how Ruth Badger's consultancy is doing.

But I was mostly struck at his admission that what is shown is nothing like reality because that 'doesn't put bums on seats'. So a man of his calibre is merely a puppet to what some luvvie production munchkins want for ratings.

And hence... even though it's obvious it wasn't isn't and never was intended to be, lets be clear it's nothing like real business then.

Please let's not try to pretend it is.

Guardian -

I watched BBC Breakfast the other day with Sir Alan Sugar explaining the new show's format.

I haven't watched it before. On the basis of his performance I saw nor reason to try try this time. From what I read above I was well motivated not to.

He deemed previous winner's paths to be a great accolade to the BBC. I must see how Ruth Badger's consultancy is doing.

But I was mostly struck at his admission - like we didn't know, but really, today's media is all about saying one thing as po-faced as possible while doing the direct opposite off camera - that what is shown is nothing like reality because that 'doesn't put bums on seats'. So a man of his calibre is merely a puppet to what some luvvie production munchkins want for ratings.

And hence... even though it's obvious it wasn't, isn't and never was intended to be, lets be clear it's nothing like real business then.

Please BBC, let's not try to pretend it is. There are some in this country who don't get their business and career guidance from such as Dragon's Den and rubbish like this.

It is only popular because slickly produced public executions have always been so, and if you are handed the full force of a national broadcast medium machine you are pretty much certain of a nicer job thanks to the ratings boost. Except if you made Castaway. Keelhauling may help there, not that I've watched it either.

Guardian - Last night's TV

Guardian - Stepping out from under Sir Alan's shadow