Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The left's frustration with Brown has become obsessive. In the Guardian John Harris was at it last week and today there's Polly Toynbee complaining about Labour's sickly fixation on the rich. She's right about that, but she doesn't get under the skin of this strange neurosis. Blair wanted non-civil service expertise so he turned to wealthy business men - not, on the whole, real ones but management consultants. Brown has continued this (it is his continuance of most things Blair that is the main source of the left's frustration). Now, in David Pitt-Watson we have a fund manager General Secretary of the party, a post once occupied by inarticulate but consoling trade unionists with pleasantly lumpy faces. The illusion of the expertise of the rich and successful is twofold. First, their expertise tends to be either non-existent in the case of the consultants or very narrow. The points about the narrowness has been made many times in the context of the banking crisis. Very few highly paid bankers whose bonuses bear no relation to the success of their businesses could, it has been pointed out, actually get jobs anywhere else so it would be quite safe for shareholders to insist on a cut in their 'packages'. Secondly, expertise itself is an illusion because, in the management of human affairs, a set of skills acquired in one culture will not transfer to another. Running a business is not like running a government; it can't and shouldn't be. There is no magical concept like 'efficiency' that can be frictionlessly transferred from one to the other. You only have to look at the fantastic wastefulness of this and the previous administration to see it's not working. Excessive faith in this kind external expertise is a sign of fear and weakness. Which brings me back to Brown and the frustrated left. Don't you get it? He's weak.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:54 am