Is the mistake is ours? Maybe we assume that our so-called ‘leaders’ are exceptional people, that their ordinariness is just a mask, and that buried deep inside their unimpressive forms there’s a Churchillian spirit waiting to be unleashed. I wish it were so!
The reality is that our leaders are clever, but they are also really very ordinary and very unimpressive. Leaders? Mmmm…they have the responsibility of leadership, they understand what it is, but have very little idea of its practice. The reality is that our leaders are political technocrats. They work to predetermined party formulas that are meant to give us the impression that they are in control and have the measure of things – and that they are working for the common good, which they are not. Their prime motivation is personal and political survival. They work harder at this than anything else…until….well, until circumstances lay bare their inadequacy and they have to deliver something big to survive. That’s where we are now.
Today, Miliband cuts a rather pathetic figure. Everything is catching up with him. His technocratic instincts tell him that he must fight his political opponents point by point. (Blind to the fact that his agenda is being set for him!) Viewed from inside his Westminster cocoon that might seem the right thing to do, but from the outside it’s a very boring, uninspiring spectacle. And the worrying thing is that he doesn’t seem to understand why we find it so unutterably boring and uninspiring. Even more worrying is that it appears he doesn’t know what the answer is…and it’s really not all that difficult!
Swingeing austerity should have been a gift to a Labour opposition. They should be fifteen points ahead in the opinion polls. Loyal Labour supporters have been waiting in anticipation for big new ideas, but they have failed to materialise. As the election draws closer it’s becoming more apparent that there are no big ideas, no radical new policies. All that Labour supporters are going to get are technical ‘tweaks’ to existing coalition policies. To be blunt, Labour has been more than useless, they have been utterly, utterly wet, and they are about to pay a heavy price…actually, we are about to pay a very heavy price, which hurts – a lot!
Is there still time? Just, but the dead weight of the party machine and the ‘cleverer than thou’ Hampstead Labour elite will probably sink any new initiative or any new big idea. Look what happened last weekend when Ed announced that he was planning to scrap the House of Lords and introduce some better form of regional representation. A big idea if ever there was one! The announcement happened on a Saturday and hardly anybody noticed. Reason? Because it was a hastily dredged up ‘big idea’ that Ed had been frightened to voice.
We are witnessing a race to the bottom of the political mini-talents. What the country needs is a new political order, new political parties and new big ideas. Too much to ask? Just wait and see!