Teetering on the brink

Teetering on the brink

Teetering on the brink….

As the British Government teeters on the brink of disintegration it is worth giving a thought to the implications of what is happening. From an observer’s point of view it appears that the people playing the current political game in Britain are jockeying for position against the day Mrs May gets the boot. Our collective distrust of politicians is based on a perception that they spend most of their time fighting for the next rung up the ladder. If they do, who can blame the voter for cynicism?

Is democracy, the foundation of most Western-oriented political systems, going the way of gambling – dominated by hard-core addicts hoping for success with the rest of us making the odd throw just for fun to see what turns up? Is the professional politician who has emerged in the last twenty-five years better than the amateur who did a real job in the morning, politics in the afternoon and dinner with the great and the good in the evening?

Everyone is aware that fulltime politics runs the risk of isolation from the voter. That is why politicians spend so much time visiting their constituencies, meeting and greeting the people. And there’s the problem, ‘meeting and greeting’. That’s actually what the Queen or President is there to do. Representatives of the people are expected to know what is really happening in the world. You don’t find that out by ‘meeting and greeting’. You have to work to know that.

And is the rapid change of political job, now commonplace in the west, conducive to ministers who really understand their departments? Or are top political jobs merely ducks on a funfair shooting range? Sometimes, as with the new Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, there is some stability. He has been Minister for Health for six years, the longest a Minister has ever held that job. The average British Minister holds his or her job for less than two years.

It is time also to consider the role and job of Prime Minister. Although I don’t agree with Brexit I do find the persistent disloyalty of members of the cabinet galling. Brexit was wrong, in my opinion, but it was the result of a referendum – stupid as referenda are. Every business man in the world knows that a committee cannot negotiate a difficult issue. The EU rightly appointed Michel Barnier to negotiate on its behalf. No doubt he gets lots of helpful comments and ideas behind the scenes but he has been allowed to negotiate in his own way.

David Davis on the other hand was undermined at every turn. I do not have much affinity for Mr Davis but the way he has been treated during this negotiation is disgraceful. I wonder why he didn’t resign before. To have half the Brexit team in the PM’s office and half in the Brexit Department was bound to spell disaster. The cards in Brexit are stacked in favour of Europe. As with any deal, it is best to recognise where they are from the start. Davis was treated as though be held all the cards.

If your criticism is then one of lack of leadership by the Prime Minister you must ask why she was made PM in the first place. The answer, of course, is because there was no credible alternative. Glance around the world and answer two questions: [1] Which leaders are really strong leaders? [2] Do we want the kind of leadership they exhibit? I think you will, like me, begin to conclude that the era of strong individuals may be starting to blow itself out. It will take several years to do so
but I think we shall then have a more collective leadership, even in business, than previously.

Before that happens regimes will suffer dictators, discrimination and disasters. When collectivity comes about they will settle for a voice at the table rather than a gun in the holster.