The Kentish Express has resolutely refused to cover any of the latest scandalous revelations about how our councils clubbed together with Imperial College to try to destroy Wye. But it can still find time to let people take stupid pops over the biggest environmental victory seen pretty much anywhere in the United Kingdom this year. And this week, I’m proud to say, the target is none other than me!
A few weeks ago a self-publicising academic called Professor Richard Scase was quoted at enormous length over two separate articles in the KE delivering what I and many others thought was an extraordinarily insulting and inaccurate broadside against the people of Wye. In it he decried us all as backward, selfish Nimbies motivated by self interest at the expense of the economic well-being of the county as a whole.
Clearly, then, he didn’t understand the first thing about what had actually happened over Wye Park, or had read any of the documents — Imperial’s own — leaked here which outlined the college’s real intentions. Today I find myself labelled a ‘psychological bully’ and an enemy of a ‘free and democratic’ society in a letter he’s written to the KE replying to my original missive pointing out the hapless chap doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I have written a brief rejoinder to this strange little item but given the paper’s recent record when it comes to things that matter I’ve no idea whether it will appear.
What certainly won’t feature in its pages is a little more background on Richard Scase. For this, please read on, since it’s proof once again that we live in a county where who you know is a lot more important than the hopes and wishes of the electorate.
Richard Scase wails in the KE today…
Mr Hewson’s letter to you (Opinion November 9) has just been brought to my attention. I take it that when he states ‘when you blather your illiterate jargon to the over-paid captains of industry’ he is referring to the occasions when I have been asked to give talks to the senior managers of the Kent Messenger Group, the owners of the Kentish Express?
I had no idea that he was in the audience or, indeed at any other event that I have spoken.
As for his statement ‘when it comes to real people I doubt you’d get a free pot of home-made jam for addressing the next village WI meeting’, he may be interested to know I frequently get invited to speak at local events for which I nominate my small token fees to local charities.
Mr Hewson’s approach is totally inappropriate in a free and democratic society. It is tantamount to psychological bullying (I can take it) and of the sort that scares many people. I doubt there is anyone in Wye with opposing views to Mr Hewson’s that would dare speak out against him.
By all means let’s have open debate over the future of Kent but Mr Hewson’s focus on personal abuse and accusations can only serve to achieve entirely the opposite.
Firstly, no I didn’t know he counted the KM among his customers, though nothing surprises me. I was basing my stylistic comments on reading such gems as this on his web-site, ‘The outcome is that many companies are now re-evaluating these de-centralising strategies and re-asserting tighter controls over previously disaggregated business units.’ Murdering the Queen’s English isn’t a criminal offence, but you’d expect a university professor to try a little harder.
More importantly, Prof Scase, in his diatribe to the KE, resolutely refused to address the principal point of my and the many other letters prompted by his remarks, namely that they were factually inaccurate. They, and other letters used in the KE of late, seem almost tailor-made to perpetuate the myth that Imperial, KCC and ABC’s failure was somehow a great loss to Kent as a whole, not the laudable victory for common sense and local democracy that it truly was. Contrary to what he claims, the Wye campaign was never based on Nimbyism. Time and time again the village made clear that it would welcome the reinvigoration of the college Imperial had so assiduously run down. What no-one wanted was a sea of speculative housing simply designed to line the pockets of London, while Imperial extracted itself from the village’s academic institution as it had intended all along.
So why did Richard Scase issue this extraordinarily inaccurate outburst over Wye when clearly he had no real idea what he was talking about, no grasp of the detail, no local involvement, and no apparent connection with the story at all? After all this is a man who, brushing aside any modesty, describes himself thus, ‘Professor Richard Scase is one of the world’s leading business forecasters – able to speak and write authoritatively on the broadest global trends’? Perhaps it’s just a case of Occam’s Razor. The simplest answer is usually the best. He’d been out with chums.
Professor Richard Scase was a staff member of the University of Kent’s Business School for ten years until 2004 and has long moved in the county circles where many of the names we’ve come to know over these past ten months also linger. He is now ’emeritus professor of organisational behaviour’ at Kent and also manages to hold down visiting professorships in Beijing, New Zealand, Australia, Holland and, er, Essex…
- Kent Business School is the arm of the University of Kent which has taken over Imperial’s teaching operations in Wye, and has accordingly spent many long days cloistered with Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz discussing matters in the village. They are, incidentally, very welcome indeed, and it’s a pleasure to see more students around Wye again.
- Kent Business School is also closely involved with Imperial’s own Tanaka Business School, the latter, coincidentally, funded by a US financier due to stand trial for fraud in a case that may cause huge embarrassment and possible financial losses for Imperial.
- In September 2005 Richard Scase co-authored an article in CriticalEYE Review with Sir Robert Worcester, the former pollster who also happens to be a deputy lieutenant of Kent and a Kent ambassador, qualifications which put Sir Robert in the same company as Edwin Boorman, boss of the Kent Messenger, David Brooks Wilson, former estates director of Imperial College, and Sandy Bruce Lockhart, the former KCC leader who helped kick-start Wye Park.
- Today, Sir Robert is chancellor of the University of Kent, in a way the now-emeritus Richard Scase’s boss, while still a chum of Edwin Boorman and a director of the KM group.
- Richard Scase is a regular in the pages of KM publications and only four days ago penned an article for the KM group’s mediocre web-site Kent Online in which he decried the idea of ‘bullying’ at work and added, ‘…we have to face up to the fact that many of our colleagues are using “stress” as a cop-out, as a strategy for reneging on their duties as responsible employees.’ If you want to see the company Richard Scase keeps on these pages just take a look at this article on Alan Willetts and Prof Scase’s own reflections on Sandy Bruce-Lockhart’s housing strategy problems.
I don’t imagine for a moment Richard Scase made his ridiculous comments about Wye because he was told to. But, given the company he keeps, it’s not difficult to understand where he gets his opinions from. In short he is hardly the impartial observer you might have thought from reading his initial comments in the KE, not that the paper saw fit to point any of this out, of course.
There is an argument to be had about the conflict between the protection of our environment and the need for economic development. But it’s difficult to start one with a party who so resolutely ignores all the awkward facts, such as the ready availability of alternative development land nearby and the simple truth that the Ashford area is already effectively running at full employment levels and couldn’t possibly staff any major new venture without bringing in new workers — which hardly counts as ‘regeneration’. But these ideas conflict with Richard Scace’s attempt to paint the people of Wye as backward numpties… and so he simply puts them to one side and castigates hundreds of ordinary men and women who do not deserve to be the subject of his ill-informed and frankly ludicrous remarks.
Do you know what I find ‘totally inappropriate in a free and democratic society’? It’s discovering that the lives and homes and environment of a few thousand people can be placed in jeopardy by the private whims of an unelected few acting in the utmost secrecy, outside the normal channels of local government. It’s finding you still have to plough through this disingenuous dross in the local paper when we should all be getting the truth instead.
And as for being lectured on the need for ‘open debate’ after all the deception, dissembling and downright lies we’ve had to endure from this sorry bunch… kindly pass the sick bag, Alice. If you needed a reminder of why this scandal should not be allowed to rest until the clique behind it are made to face up to their illicit actions, the weasel words of Professor Richard Scace surely do the job.