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The Lee Newsletter
September 2006
flower show Shameful secret of Lee Newsletter
By Leslie Robins

You’ll find it hard to believe this – I know I did – but The Lee Newsletter has been operating for nearly five years without a Mission Statement!

I only found this out by accident when the Editorial Board held one of their routine meetings at my house, as they sometimes do, and I was pretty shocked, I can tell you. A Mission Statement is, if I may put it in plain English, de rigueur or a sine qua non of modern life. Every self-respecting organisation has one, for how else would its members know what they were supposed to be doing?

I saw one the other day in the window of a sandwich bar in the Strand, and I thought how richly the proprietor deserved the success he was obviously enjoying. Imagine his staff arriving in the early morning light to be confronted by vast piles of bread, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, and without the foggiest idea of what to do with them. Then by a happy chance their eyes light upon the Mission Statement, and Hey Presto! – they’re off. By lunchtime the whole soggy mess has been converted into ‘mouth-watering delicacies guaranteed to appeal to the most discerning palate’ (it said in the window) and there’s a queue of eager customers stretching halfway down the Strand. Now you surely don’t suppose that this culinary miracle could have been achieved without the aid of a Mission Statement? Impossible!

To be fair, the Editorial Board have always known that they ought to have a Mission Statement – it’s just that no-one is proficient enough in the new Management-speak in which these things have to be written. If you think that it’s just a matter of stringing together a few simple ideas in plain language, you’re much mistaken. Plain language is OUT. Pompous claptrap, core strategies and bottom lines are IN, along with all forms of political correctness.

Here’s the sort of thing that’s wanted:

Mission Statement
“The Lee Newsletter, being mindful of the commendable community spirit evinced by the citizens of The Lee, Lee Common, Hunt’s Green, King’s Ash and Swan Bottom resolves to obtain and disseminate particulars of all central and local government initiatives affecting their interests with a view to enhancing civic pride and nurturing democratic values.”

How’s that for starters? Not bad, eh? Hold on, though, what about the citizens of Ballinger and South Heath who don’t normally see the Newsletter – how are their civic pride and democratic values to be nurtured and enhanced? I foresee trouble here with the Equal Opportunities Commission. I’d better start again.

Mission Statement
“The Lee Newsletter, being mindful of the need to foster creative talent and artistic genius, invites original contributions from local residents on matters of general interest and undertakes to publish them subject to the usual editorial discretion.”

That ought to do the trick. Wait a minute, though – failure to publish an article by any individual is clearly an infringement of his Human Rights, the fact that he hasn’t written one being completely irrelevant and inadmissible as an excuse. (See the recent House of Lords judgement in Regina v. Poppycock). No point in provoking claims for compensation. I’d better start again.

Mission Statement
“The Lee Newsletter, being desirous of encouraging freedom of expression and tolerance of conflicting points of view, welcomes letters to the Editor on matters of topical interest and local relevance.”

Nothing wrong with that – except that, judging by the recent fuss about speed limits, letters to the Editor are apt to degenerate into a slanging match with ugly threats of punch-ups on the village green. No sense in stirring things up, then – I’d better start again.

No, I’m blessed if I will. I’m fed up with the whole exercise – it’s like picking your way through a minefield. Anyway, the Editorial Board have managed all this time without a Mission Statement and as far as I’m concerned they can carry on. Next time they meet at my house I shall tell them so.
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