No, not a casting call for Pride & Prejudice but The Bullingdon Club some time in the distant past, a breeding ground for our Commanders-in-chief. Prime Minister David ‘call me Dave’ Cameron at #2 and the London Mayor Boris Johnston at #8
Until the Great War, it was standard operating procedure to let your smartest son manage your family business and to send the dim one off to work in the church or the army. That’s what anyone with any sense did and consequently we had business managers who really knew their stuff but an officer class that were, to a large degree idiots. The phrase ‘Lions lead by donkeys’ was around even before the Great War and is thought to have been used during the Crimea War around 1854.
These days not much has changed but with one slight difference, the army is now run by exceptional professionals, so the dim children don’t go into the army, they go into politics.
At the time of writing there are about 500 protesters in the City of London protesting about corporate greed, and in NYC and around the world many many more are doing much the same. I am of the same opinion as them, I think we have all been screwed by the banks but rather than protesting against Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, I think they should be protesting against the politicians that allowed it to happen in the first place. We tend not to have very bright leaders in this country, the bright ones tend to go off into global enterprises and manage mega-corporations and Westminster is left with the dregs, our choice of whom to vote for is to choose the least incompetent.
For some perspective; the UK has a population of 62 million and is the world’s seventh largest economy, the government has trillions of pounds to manage, the NHS has 1.4 million employees alone – that’s seventh in the world league of employers*, 1.3 trillion of funds goes through the City of London’s banks each day and being in government is a licence to print money (literally).
So, let’s see how well the Prime Minister is qualified to manage such a large venture, this country we call the United Kingdom. A degree from Oxford in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and then three months working in Hong Kong in an administrative post requiring no experience. Everything else is politics politics politics.. Never been chairman of a national organisation, never had to manage a large diverse staff, never had to fire anyone, never been unemployed and never had to collect social security and this is the man who thinks he can manage the lives, hopes and dreams of 62 million, who thinks he can understand the complexities of the global financial markets and play them at their own game, a man who can take this country to war, a man who has the final say on whether to use nuclear weapons, a man who has practically no experience of the real world, no experience of grinding poverty, someone who has never had to go without, someone who went to Eton College and has been primed to become Prime Minister from an early age. Well, at least he has an older brother, Allan Alexander is obviously has the brains because now he’s a Barrister and Queens Counsellor.
Oh well, perhaps the other party was better qualified. Tony Blair, management experience.. zilch. His teachers were unimpressed with him, his biographer John Rentoul, reported that “All the teachers I spoke to when researching the book said he was a complete pain in the backside and they were very glad to see the back of him”. As a student, he played guitar, sang in a rock band called Ugly Rumours and he reportedly modelled himself on Mick Jagger. He graduated from Oxford in 1975 with a Second Class Honours BA in Jurisprudence, so not outstanding academically but that won’t matter because he will go into politics and his smarter older brother, Sir William James Lynton Blair will become a judge and Queens Counsellor specialising in domestic and international banking and finance law. Of course it was Tony Blair who sent troops into Afghanistan in 2001 and then in 2003 insisted there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and sent in the troops. I wonder how his interview went for the Labour Party when he applied to be an MP;
What qualities can you bring to the Labour Party Mr Blair?
Oh I can do a great impression of Mick Jagger.. I Wanna Be Your Man
Excellent Mr Blair, say no more, here are the keys to Great Britain’s nuclear arsenal..
Who else, hmmm Margaret Thatcher, management experience, zilch, graduated from Oxford with a second class degree in chemistry, a perfect grounding for starting a war in the South Atlantic. Her older sister owned and managed a 900 acre farm and died a very rich woman.
So, leader after leader, not great source material, none of them have any real work experience and yet they manage the lives of millions and I think the one thing they all do have in common is that they have a very high regard for themselves, much higher than I have for them, after all, IBM or Apple wouldn’t put someone in charge that had no experience and yet all Prime Minsters ultimately manage organisations massively larger than IBM and Apple combined.
Politics does seem to be a strange occupation, Groucho Marks said “I do not care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members” and I think you gotta have a very big regard for yourself to think you can manage this country with bugger all previous management experience. Personally I’d rather see someone with long experience in managing huge complex global intuitions as Prime Minister of this country, it’s not like there’s a shortage, there’s Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Stelios Haji-Ioannou and even outgoing chairman of BP, Peter Sutherland, well, if you can manage a global corporation like BP with it’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill then managing this country will seem like a gentle stroll in the park. However, if one of these chaps do one day decide they would like to manage Great Britain PLC then I have some advice for him, it’s called Grandma Soderquist’s Rule for Political Speeches, a little known rule that goes like this;
Don’t ever make a speech with more than one thousand words. The speech should contain and repeat certain key words like: people, 81 times; our country, 26 times; liberty, 17 times; the poor, 33 times; I promise you, 77 times; and call all opponents incompetent as many times as you can squeeze it in.
Trust me; you will never get sued for calling your opponents incompetent, because that’s exactly why they are in politics.
(*at the top of the list is not the People’s Liberation Army but the US Department of Defense at 3.2 million employees, I was VERY surprised at that).