Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Perhaps she has been reading the blog

Am I the only person around who is beginning to feel that David Cameron’s honeymoon with the media is coming to an end? Even the Daily Telegraph is finding him and his various appointees (Master Oliver Leftwing springs to mind) rather hard going.

In yesterday’s paper an article by Rachel Sylvester went beyond that. So much so, that we are wondering whether she has been peeking at the blog. She does not quite use the expression “governance by management”, which I think I might copyright, but she does castigate the three party leaders for not, apparently, having any convictions.

Let us set aside Charles Kennedy, when last heard of still the Lib-dim leader, whose

“main defining principle is that he is a "fully signed-up member of the human race". He cannot decide whether he is a free-market liberal or a a fully fledged Left-winger”.
As Ms Sylvester says:
“Tony Blair's defining philosophy has always been to do "what works" - he uses targets, consultation documents and focus groups to run a government that is influenced more by McKinsey's than Marx.”
“In a similar way, David Cameron prides himself on being a manager rather than a moralist: "I'm not a deeply ideological person," he said recently. "I'm a practical one." Conservatives are going to be in a minority on his policy review teams and it was Tony Benn's book Arguments for Democracy, not Friedrich von Hayek's writings, that got him interested in politics. His optimism is pragmatic rather than visionary; his slogans - "Change to Win" and "We're All in it Together" - are big on tone and small on values. In fact, his former boss Norman Lamont says his views are not yet fully formed.”
The trouble is that very little does work under Blair and the rather vacuous slogans put forward by the Tories are not what we want to hear.

On the one hand Ms Sylvester thinks that most people do not want to have ideological politicians; on the other hand they would like some idealism. Unfortunately, the only example of idealism she can think of is “millions of people campaigned to Make Poverty History”. How many millions, precisely? And, in any case if that is the sort of juvenile so-called idealism that is the alternative to managerialism then a large number of people will plump for the latter. At least, that could have the slogan: Make Stupidity History.

While I go along with much of Ms Sylvester’s thesis and, indeed, wonder whether she has read some of it on this or some other blog, so different it is from her usual verbiage, I don’t think she really gets the point.

Firstly, she does not even hint that she might understand how the managerial system of politics works. To be fair the politicians do not understand it either. Naturally, the words European and Union do not come into the article at all.

Secondly, she seems unable to grasp the difference between solid ideology and political beliefs on the one hand and unfocused idealism on the other. It seems that if people mention moral crusades they become politicians of stature rather than believers in managerialism.

The problem is that talking of moral compasses in order to throw lots of tax money at intractable problems instead of using some kind of a political guideline to try to solve them is no better than boasting of being “practical” or “managerial”.

So, Ms Sylvester, we are glad to see that you are making progress in political understanding. But, please keep reading the blog.


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