Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information
THE response to a freedom of information enquiry [here] discloses that the New Labour-run Council and their preferred development partner (LendLease) in the Haringey Development Vehicle have agreed to spend up to £50,000 on branding.
See the section "20 Attachments" and click on "Show all attachments".
Revised HDV Brand Brief.docx is titled:
London Regeneration Programme
Naming and Identity
The partners have identified an appropriate investment in branding the new joint venture. This budget will not exceed £50,000. Cost proposals that indicate efficiencies on this sum to make provision for future marketing activity will be looked upon favourably.
(this compares with the £86,000 of Council tax spent on a new logo for the Council, that deliberately omits the term "Council", probably because of negative connotations, such as the reputation of the New Labour-led Council for wasting money.)
Doctor Weston (Hornsey Ward) has been involved with the HDV Shadow Board and with the Brand Strategy meetings and "pitches". For a some time, these meetings were unknown to fellow Councillors, if not concealed from them. Doctor Weston may have more information about the logo, etc.
Of the £50k, our share may be half, or "only" £25,000. However, if the money didn't look wasted six months ago, it surely does now.
Clive makes an entirely valid point.
Back in October 2015 we had the fiasco and public shaming of Cllr Joe Goldberg's absurd waste of money for an unnecessary new logo. I called it JoeGo's Bozo Logo.
I had imagined that somebody - anybody? - would have called a halt to this endless frittering away of cash which Haringey desperately needs for real services for residents. And not pouring dosh down the plughole on "branding" contracts for "marketing" firms. But it wasn't to be.
Instead as Clive describes, we've had the relatively new councillor Dr Elin Weston falling - I hope, innocently and badly advised - into a similar pit of public embarrassment. Made worse because it comes with the farce of secret "Shadow Board" meetings with Lendlease plc including dinner in a private room in a posh restaurant at the public expense.
I've never met Cllr Weston who seems a cheery sort of person and, by various accounts, intelligent and thoughtful. So she can hardly imagine there's oodles of spare cash around to spend on dinners and "pitches" for contracts for branding and logos. My assumption is that if councillors have any sort of realistic overview about the state of the Council's finances then they would not be in favour of wasting a penny on this frippery and foolishness.
The "Shadow Board" should have been called the shadowy or shady Board. Because it demonstrated the usual democratic deficit which has become almost a feature of Koberville. So much so, it wasn't even mentioned to the Scrutiny Panel on the Haringey Development "vehicle" (HDV). That panel had been given as one of its tasks, looking at the "governance" of the HDV. With the words "Governance" and "Board" you might have thought they'd be told, wouldn't you? But hey, it was secret and it's membership - two very senior members of Haringey staff and Cllr Elin Weston were it seems personally appointed by the Dear Leader Claire Kober herself.
When this information eventually leaked out, I expected Cllr Elin Weston to offer a sincere and profuse public apology, and resolve to do better in future. Well maybe I missed that bit.
It now seems that Cllr Weston is again hoping to be elected as a councillor next May. So maybe the apology and contrition will come nearer the election? Meanwhile the money can't be unspent.
Alan you may disagree, but in my opinion, branding and re-branding lies at the heart of New Labour. It literally begins with “New Labour”. It seems to me there's an unhealthy reliance on presentation rather than substance: more rhyme than reason and more sizzle than sausage.
Branding and re-branding seem closely linked to the belief in PR (public relations). Apparently the like-minded advocates enjoy each other’s company, which may be why Terrapin Communications’ repeated invitations to Haringey Cabinet Members were accepted so readily.
It's not confined to New Labour of course. I note that under the Conservative Government, a current task of the Homes and Communities Agency is to rebrand itself "Homes England". This won't by itself reduce waiting lists, but will serve as a distraction and line someone's pockets. No doubt it would meet the approval of Brand Strategist (Cabinet Member) Councillor Goldberg, of £86,000 Haringey logo fame.
And how the Government managed to spend £520,000 on an Army slogan re-brand before halting it, I don't know. Makes an HDV logo at £50,000 look cheap.
I don't think this was a special feature of New Labour. We miss an important bigger picture if we turn this into a party issue.
Christian Salmon, French writer and researcher, has a useful little book. "Storytelling: Bewitching the Modern Mind". It offers a framework for understanding how our current politicians construct fictions and fantasies which replace discussion of the underlying reality of principles, policies and programmes.
What's the difference with how things used to be? I have a perhaps naive belief that 'we' - the ruled - often remain sceptical. However much our rulers deliver their banalities in clear confident tones, and wearing expensive clothes in grand halls. I hope most of us suspect when they use words like "narrative" and "conversation", they really mean biased self-serving PR. And when they smile and repeatedly say: "very very clear" and "cast iron guarantee", our sensible response is to start worrying how much a lawyer will charge to check the small print.
But suppose they were able to reach into our heads and hearts to persuade us that they really are serving-up the very finest apple butter?
One of the examples Salmon gives is how:
"American diplomacy adopted a marketing logic, even going so far as to recruit “branding” specialists for diplomatic positions, whose job is to 'sell America to the world as a brand'.
The art of narrative—which, ever since it emerged, has recounted humanity’s experience by shedding light on it—has become, like storytelling, an instrument that allows the state to lie and to control public opinion. Behind the brands and the TV series, and in the shadows of victorious election campaigns from Bush to Sarkozy, as well as in those of military campaigns in Iraq and elsewhere, there are dedicated storytelling technicians. The empire has confiscated narrative."
Locally, we can see how the Dear Leader and her pals have attempted to follow such a model. Having a large Comms (PR) budget lets them deliver one-sided fictions, free to every home. Except of course we pay in our Council Tax.
An obedient payroll vote of "cabinet" and other "Special Responsibility Allowance" councillors act as cheer leaders, fan club and courtier sycophants in the Haringey version of the Emperor's New Clothes. Do their senior staff appointees act as magic mirrors assuring politicians of the endless allure of themselves and their policies?
Clive, to add to your rebranding examples, let me mention that back in 2011, I noticed the (since abolished) "Standards Board for England", had in 2009 rebranded itself as "Standards for England".
I made a Freedom of Information request asking for details of the cost of deleting that word. They told me the direct cost was £45,247. With up to extra £9,499 on "production of business cards, headed stationery and refurbishing our exhibition stand".
The rebrand wasting disease is suffered by many organisations.
P.S. Until 1 January Verso Books are offering all their books half-price.
Salmon's "Storytelling" is a fiver. If you spend £10 or more postage is free.
I suggest adding Threads from the Refugee Crisis, a beautiful graphic novel by Kate Evans.