My mission statement

The times we are working in now need a great deal of accelerated change and there must be no negotiating that down. So my mission statement for this part of my consultancy career is to be clear that there needs to be and will be a lot of change from the work that I do with individuals and organisations and if organisations don’t want that, then it is probably best to go somewhere else.

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Be careful what you wish for! Now let’s see how the nation gets on without strong politics power

Filed Under (Election campaign) by Paul on 08-05-2010

For once and only once I am going to allow myself a post which does not concern itself with health care practice, policy or politics but does deal with the bigger picture of outcome of the May 6th election. Let’s look at the wider issue of politics and politicians in general.

I have spent most of my life closely working with and within politics. And the people who practice it – politicians- are also my very closest friends. It is the main topic of our conversation on most days. This means it matters to me not just in the abstract but concretely through the real people I love doing real things with their lives.

And whilst my own politics are of the left, I have respect for all (non fascist) politicians that dedicate their lives to this activity.

At a very early stage of my life I have a memory of asking my Dad why we in our family went on about politics so much. In most other families that I knew there was very little political discussion. He said that what I had to understand is that there were some people – rich people – who had wealth that they could use to look after themselves and their family- and that given poor people did not have wealth, all they had was politics. Rich people have wealth – poorer people have politics.

At the time I felt this was odd – as a child I could understand that money could buy you opportunities and chances that others did not have. So I could see how wealth could create safety and opportunity, but politics was men (by and large) talking and arguing. Then every now and again there were elections with a lot of fury and all this voting. How was that as powerful as money?

In my teens this became clear and the long march of progressive politics and organisation demonstrated to me how politics and, if you won it, political power could change the day to day opportunities of ordinary people. I was 3 when the politics of the post war Labour Party created the NHS and much of the welfare state. When I began to study history it became clear that this created safety and opportunity in the same way that wealth could create it. Money could buy some people a home (as it has done for me in my adult life). If you did not have money politics created social housing (which was the fantastic prefab we lived in).

But it also became clear to me that the majority of the population did not think like this. They saw politics as an odd and essentially external thing. The men (and by now a few women) arguing about things was for many people disturbing and they really didn’t like it. They didn’t like the disagreement (which I really loved) and they didn’t like the fact that elected politicians – if they won a majority – had power over you.

So politics and politicians became bad things that involved disagreement and someone having power over you. Majority opinion came to dislike the rows of politics and the power of political outcomes. The combination of these two things meant that many many people became anti-politics.

Why couldn’t every one agree? Why do they have to argue with each other? And if they win why can’t they run the country without any sort of nasty thing like power?

The onslaught on politics – fed by those people who do not need it because they have wealth – has been almost total since Tony Blair formed his first Government in 1997. What gave him the right to have power over us? (Actually it was winning three general elections) and how do we withdraw that legitimacy from him. (Trash trash trash)

So whilst the onslaught has been on a particular government, it was and is also an onslaught upon politics itself, and a weakening of politics as a method of developing and using power in society. The onslaught has been designed to deliberately weaken politics, to give it less power.

And in a very real way this has created the outcome of the 2010 election. The anti politicians have constructed an outcome where all three political parties have been denied the majority that gives politics the power to operate and to intervene through strong government.

Now the only way in which any intervention can be made to happen is by day to day agreements on this or that issue. It’s a political campaign that has led to a triumph of anti politics.

And I hope, without any schadenfreude, I can now point out that in the summer of 2010 what the British nation is going to need is strong politics to lead the country out of its worst post war recession. I have my own ideas about the political party that would be best placed to do this, but that is not what the people have said.

They have agreed with the anti politics that we don’t want politicians to have power over us. They don’t want strong political power in the country. The public don’t like it.

Let’s just see how weak political power is going to cope with getting the economy moving again.

Let’s see how the nation really works when politics is not given the power to solve an economic crisis and let’s see for how long non political power can run the country.

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