Sally Uren – fluent in bureaucratese.

Forum for the Future describes itself on its website as “a sustainability non-profit working globally with business, government and others to solve tricky challenges”. If, like me, you didn’t know that ‘non-profit’ was a noun then we’re all learning something. Thanks to Geoff Chambers I learnt that on 21 May, 2012, Sally Uren, then deputy Chief Executive of Forum for the Future, made a presentation entitled Systems to Solutions. No, I don’t know what that means either. Shall we try to find out?

What, in the name of sanity, possessed her to perform that little yawn pantomime at 0:18! Is she saying that she finds it boring? Is she saying that she expects her audience to find it boring – and wants to pre-empt that? Is she trying (unsuccessfully) to get a laugh? Self-deprecation is one thing: sticking an imbecilic downer into the first seconds of a speech is quite another. She puts me in mind slightly of Dolores Umbridge, the Harry Potter character portrayed by Imelda Staunton, simpering meekly while spouting ghastly and dangerous rubbish.

The perceptive reader might have inferred somehow that I was likely to be difficult to please with this speech. There is a reason. While I am obviously all for sustainability, the reading I have done on the subject persuades me that the empirical data supplied by history clearly show that sustainability and growth in wealth, food, and all other benefits of civilisation comes from millions of mutual accommodations made by people trading for their own benefit. What always makes things go pyriform is interference from busybody know-it-alls who manage to get enough of an administrative foothold to become surrogate decision-makers. Far from ever helping it has consistently been catastrophic. History is strewn with horrifying examples of hugely successful societies being reduced to immiseration, famine and mass-starvation through centralised decision making. Therefore sustainability happens when this sort of ‘non-profit’ is non-existent. When will they ever learn! But back to the speech.

If your interests are such that you cannot survive another minute without learning the distinction between ‘competitive’ and’ pre-competitive’, this speech will have you in orgasmic transports of ecstasy. If, on the other hand, you couldn’t give a monkey’s then go and read a good book – or even a bad one. This is fifteen minutes of wall-to-wall, faux intellectual bureaucratese – the sort of worthy-sounding guff that the producers of the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 adore.

I have to admit that she is a good enough speaker to be employable in a real job – albeit after a thorough jargonectomy. Sadly though she is on a slippery slope. When she delivered this speech, her non-job at this non-profit was Deputy Chief Executive. Since then she has been demoted to Chief Executive.

Osborne and Balls. Stuff and nonsense.

There are times when the limitation I imposed upon myself for this blog –

discuss how they state their case and possibly how they might have stated it better, but do not get involved with the case itself

– is sorely tried. In fact today I’m going to breach it for one paragraph.

Watching footage of yesterday’s exchange in parliament between George Osborne and Ed Balls I just wanted to wade in, slap both their silly little faces, tell them to stop behaving like imbecilic juveniles, and actually start applying some serious new thought to the parlous state of the country’s economy. If you sweep aside the spin (which actually doesn’t need much sweeping since it is already pathetically flimsy) you realise that there is essentially no difference in the economic strategies of the last administration and this. Both are wedded to weary, discredited, bastardised  Keynesian principles, both are determined to do nothing more creative than firehose artificial money at real problems, both are hell-bent on steering the paddle-less craft further and further up the creek. And all to the accompaniment of puerile, tribal name-calling. And the preposterous BBC compounds the problem by acting as cheerleaders. Did you hear the Today programme this morning?  I had to leave the room in disgust. That programme used to be quite good, but your memory has to go back a few years.

Right! Back to my brief.

Sorry, Eddie dear. I both sympathise with you over your stammer and congratulate you on the success you have so far had in battling it. Nevertheless a stammer can do all sorts of things, but does not make you say the opposite of what you intended to say. I know that little Georgie had a script and therefore an advantage over you, but if either of you were any good at speaking you neither would need scripts. What you’d need is command of the subject, conviction and cool heads.

But you appear to have none of those things.