‘Lucid, vigorous and brief’

Peter Couchman, chief exec of the Plunkett Foundation, has a blog called the Plunkett Perspective. In a recent post he writes that with all the political parties open to mutualisation in public services some kind of test will become necessary to help identify the areas in which mutual structures will work best. The three-point test he offers is lucid and simple, without a wasted word. We could all benefit by thinking about what he says whenever we put pen to paper to get across our own social enterprise messages.

Conversely, New Start magazine has just announced that the Institute of Economic Development has issued a ‘manifesto‘ calling on all the political parties not to cut investment in ‘vulnerable neighbourhoods’ — those which have previously been New Deal for Community areas, for example. These are fragile economies, the IED says, and reducing investment now will reverse any progress that has been made and send them back into decline.

So far so good. But the manifesto ends with the resounding call to “embed economic, environmental and social sustainability within the growth agenda”.

What in God’s name does that mean? It sounds a typically empty civil service mantra — the kind of thing that gets repeated until what little meaning it might have had is completely expunged.

The great  socialist historian Peter Fryer, (author of the classic Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain) once wrote a tiny book called Lucid, Vigorous and Brief: Advice to New Writers. It’s sadly out of print but but secondhand copies can be found and I’ve been meaning to track one down for ages. Thanks to a nudge from the IED, I will. Just to be on the safe side.

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