Pink Elephants in the Botanic’s.

(Avoid seeing what the council want’s you to see)
When defending the public estate – Why we should never engage in discussions about architecture

One of the oldest battle tactics in the book as any old campaigner will tell you is – drawing the enemies fire. This technique is designed to confuse the opponent into spending their ammunition and energy on false targets, such as misleading information and superfluous detail – thus exhausting the voice of dissent. Many of these tricks can be easily adapted to any business – and are the main stay of big business. (In this case the enemy are the general public the technique is known as public relations, formerly known as propaganda)

In practice it could go like this.

When the developer is met by a difficult site, a community grassed area for instance, that is to say they want to build 150 flats (when they are only really after 30 or so). The people protest, the developer bends over backwards reducing the number of demanded flats each month (or year) until the campaigners have fallen off, or are exhausted, by this time the developer begins to look reasonable in his or her pursuit to please everyone, especially with the help of the newspapers (who will eventually help to advertise the flats or property) Result for community – More green space disappears. Campaigners – gain knowledge of building regulations and aesthetics. Developer – 30 flats built – Mission accomplished.

Land control and the parks issue

It becomes easier for the pure profit industry when no one is fighting the core issue, which incidentally is the same across Britain. Land! Control the land and you control everything else. We should not be giving credence to the council by even discussing the details of there plans regarding commercialising parks. Listening to the organ grinders monkey, [Robert Booth] discussing non existent fantasy plans, dreamed up by a developer – will get us nowhere. Mr Booth is only there to absorb the flack while the real business goes on in the background.

We need to remember the issue is “business control of our parks” – not the detail of what the council at the behest of business are deciding – is or isn’t going to be built on them.

One for all

The privatisation of our parks, has been on the cards for a couple of years – since the sham consultation that will put all of our parks in the same situation. The problem is, as in the case of the recent campaigns, folk tend to deal with the problem, only when the dilemma arrives at there own door, Sometimes that’s to late.

NIMBYism ?

“Yes it is NIMBYism” I hear at a protest meeting, which means don’t put it in my back yard, put it in somebody else’s. This is a bad tactic to use for Glasgow parks. Might work if it was a nuclear power station when only a few are doted round the country, But, if what “you” don’t want in your park ends up in the park up the road, (or any other park in the city) it will eventually come back to haunt you in some form. If you fight for one park you might as well fight for them all. They are all of our parks for all of the people, rich or poor. and a harm to one is a harm to all. If we do not know this yet, the King’s and colonisers of this city will be very happy – NIMBYism suits the council.

Key to control

The consultation doc says – >”2. Community involvement is one of the keys to success in the regeneration of our parks.” < “Community involvement” in council-speak, means, as the following passage will illustrate – dividing up parks to make local residents easier to manipulate and control.

We need to keep our parks a city entity

Someone at the Save our Botanic’s meeting, when listening to a comparison with Kelvingrove park, said “What has Kelvingrove go to do with the Botanic’s?” The answer is everything. Take a walk round Kelvingrove. (Glasgow’s most popular park, right next to the Art galleries – well used and full of tourists.) You will find in Kelvingrove park disused and abandoned building in the form of toilets, a derelict bandstand, kids swings that have disappeared, kiddies swings that are rotting and falling apart, paths full of holes, broken fencing, and so on. Why you wonder is one of Glasgow’s most well used and popular parks going to blite? You might well wonder why the same park has a dedicated and caring friends group who have not only protected the park from the onslaught of developers for years, protected the wild life, kept the public well informed about what is happening in their park, and have toiled for years (14) to put the park bandstand back into public use.

The councils biggest worry is real community involvement

Of course, there is a major problem here with the reinstate the bandstand effort in Kelvingrove and it is seriously worrying for the council, because the bandstand project is a public initiative, not a business one. Even the Council admit that this is a great idea and it has been support by most local people, who know about it and within the councils grand scheme of things would cost peanuts. The reason this project is being buried in petty bureaucracy, has nothing to do with cost (or pathetic excuses like riddled with asbestos [Booth] The real reason is – Can you imagine the bad example (for the council) this would create for other parks in Glasgow. Local people having a say and interest about decisions for what they need in there own parks? Can you imagine the Botanic’s campaign having this as a good example of what can be achieved by local people in local parks? – if the idea had happened years ago as it should have done, other park groups such as Save the Botanic’s, could be saying, “look what they did in Kelvingrove, why can’t we do that in our park”

The battle for the bandstand in Kelvingrove, is part of the same battle that every other park in glasgow will eventually be fighting. The reinstatement of Kelvingrove bandstand would send a clear message to the public as well as the council of what we “do” want in our parks – as well as what we don’t want.


The Kings and the councils have endless budgets (a lot of it ours) for spreading propaganda in order to brow beat and cajole the public into believing what they do is wonderful. In comparison, all most campaigns have is there wit, imagination, a photocopier and a few quid if their lucky. We can not fight these people using their tools. We will not win engaging in their terms. The issue in the Botanic’s, Pollok park, as elsewhere is a Common Good issue (in the fullest sense) not architecture and facilities – and should be dealt with the same way that Springfield Park, (Scotstoun) dealt with another wonderful scheme the council came up with – to build 600 odd car parking spaces on the parks football pitches. “No cars in our park period”, was the message the council carried off ringing in their ears.

No private business in any of our parks period. No discussion about architecture and a few low paid jobs – nothing in our parks that cant be removed easily should be our message to the council. (if the lessons of history mean anything)

Our city is being brutalised by public funded administrators whose vision for Glasgow is based on oil and the car, which is a primitive dying technology. While even in American cities, freeways building is in decline, and some are being converted into greenspace – meanwhile our city chiefs are still engaged in carrying out ancient plans (which even they know are moribund) to construct 8 lane motorways. Who will gain? Banks. Think about it council people – If we end up looking like Manchester – tourists will go to Manchester.
We have beautiful, unique, autonomous, uncluttered, uncommercialised, therapeutic open green space called Glasgow Parks. People will come to our city for that, and do. And in a few years time when we can’t move in our grid locked cars. When we can’t just pop into the 4×4 and dash to the country. That’s when we, and our children, will appreciate the effort we took in caring for our open space. It’s the only place we will have in the city to stay sane.

What the city needs now is not NIMBYism but a Glasgow wide campaign to stop the theft of our Common Good. All of our common good. All of our parks. I don’t think we will do this, just because we know the law, or can read an architects drawing, or have time to sit up the University library researching text books. These are very useful tools, but they do not motivate the majority of folk into action and that’s what we need if we want to stop the colonisers taking over our city.
The whole is much greater than the sum of it’s parts. The parks issue which I think is one of the most important public concerns to arise in years and is part of a much wider strategy to monopolise public life into private finance.

In a positive note, I think it could be an opportunity for a show of public solidarity just when all of our communities might need it most, when all parts of the city are being ravished and folks needs are being put to the subservience of banks. To use the words of Glasgow City Council PR machine. “An opportunity has been recognised” – and we would be daft to ignore it.

All of our Parks – for all of our people – Unite the fight for the common good. See what you want to see, not what your told you’ll see.

The scottish office is open for business.

Common Good Links

Constructing Neoliberal Glasgow

The common Good in Scotland Film

Save Pollok Park

Save the Botanic’s

Save our parks