by Alan Davies, FuW managing director
WoRds. We all use them, lots of them every day. And they can be so helpful. Yet they can also be less than helpful, even obstructive at times if used without understanding, or definition or even used at the wrong time with the wrong nuance.
“What Three Words” is a marvellous example of how to use words in a powerful, new way. W3W is a service that has mapped the world to provide a new way of defining location. We all know about postcodes and how inaccurate they are in rural areas in particular. Their “problem” is that they are a collection of a number of properties, rather a definition of location. so in a town, a postcode will cover 20 or so houses, within 100 yards of each other. In rural areas the same number of houses would be spread over a far wider area. But by using W3W far more specific locations can be given.
W3W has put a grid on the whole of the surface of the earth that defines a 3 metre by 3 metre square and then gives each square a reference based on three words.
so if you want to go to the Head office of the union you go to “Mooring.Condense.Milder”. But if you wanted the entrance to the car park the address is “Hooks.Ticked.Harmonica”
This might sound all a bit strange, but it is based on a very simple notion that provides absolute clarity for a location. And it uses three simple words to convey the message.
If only we could achieve the same clarity from all the words we use. At the moment three words that are in very regular use as we move towards Brexit are Frameworks.Power.Grab.
Each has a meaning, but sadly each has multiple meanings when used in the context of planning our exit from the EU. It reminds me of the old adage that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”.
But getting clarity on what these three words mean will have a big impact on our future. For Frameworks we need to think about different options for doing things. Frameworks that allow us to discuss and negotiate alternative and agreed solutions. We don’t need to think about rigid sets of imposed change. But we do need to see the solutions developed through respectful negotiation, and methods of dealing with perceived breaches of Framework rules agreed mutually between the UK’s four nations.
The union called for appropriate frameworks for the future management of agriculture within days of the referendum – after all, we’ve been living and working within frameworks whilst in the EU, so continuing within newly created ones would not be too
great a hardship, and there are very few nations that do not operate within a range of international frameworks and agreements.
The response from some quarters though is to
see the need for frameworks as a power grab.
For those obsessed with power in its own right,
and the pursuit of power as an end in itself, that
may be true. But in reality what is now becoming clear is that there could and should be better ways of re-allocating powers currently
held by the EU in a fashion that makes for the best solution, at a legal as well as at a practical level – and for this to be done by sensible mutual agreement without upsetting current balances of power between devolved administrations and Westminster.
In particular, our call for a special pot of
money to fund agriculture in Wales, ring-
fenced to ensure that it cannot be used
for other spending commitments,
would be a framework within which to
operate. Moreover, such ring-fencing
and the agreement of uniform financial
and operational rules similar to those
currently in place under EU law is
essential if we are to avoid divergence between our four nations – divergence that would severely distort competition between our farmers and food industries. But for some it could be seen as taking away the power to determine spending priorities.
For the greater good of Wales and in particular our rural economies, I would hope that we are able to see a solution that generates the right financial framework to secure funding for the future of farming and rural Wales.
If I could have three words now I’d use: Respect.discuss.Agree. That might just create a win-win that everyone could sign up to.