How many people do you know who, within the last few months, have described the government’s handling of any of Covid, Brexit or A-levels and GCSEs, incompetent, catastrophic or any synonym thereof?
Some of the most talked about examples of ‘things not being handled perfectly’ include, breaking the law over Brexit, 20,000 more lives being lost than implementing lockdown one week earlier would have, or indeed the omnishambles round exams grades that plunged hundreds of thousands of kids and parents into panic and despair.
Against this backdrop, how many of the people citing these complaints who voted for the current government would vote Conservative if there was a general election tomorrow? My guess is nearly all of them, without a flicker of doubt.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about party politics, the Conservatives just happen to be the party currently in power. I firmly believe that if Labour had presided over the same set of circumstances with the same outcomes, the same would be true of their voters too.
If the board of your company demonstrated such poor leadership and oversaw failures causing a fraction of the hardships for their clients, would you vote them back in? Of course not, that would be insane, but this is exactly what happens time after time when it comes to voting in the UK. Why do continually give governments a free pass?
We can blame the antiquated first-past-the-post system designed for feudal Britain, but the real problem is that the majority of voters are so intransigent in our views that we overlook and excuse incompetence in deference to ideology. This is why the government can ask Gavin Williamson to resign from his position as defence secretary for leaking state secrets, yet subsequently promote him into another cabinet post in which he oversees colossal failure. If he does resign from his current role, he will no doubt pop up in another cabinet position within the next 12 months. Even Chris Grayling still has cabinet support (as evidenced by their ultimately futile and ironic backing of him for Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee) with his record of multiple cabinet positions on the back of spectacular failures.
Why does the government continue to reward failure and incompetence like premier league football clubs do with managerial appointments? One could argue it is because of their lack of ‘real-world’ or business experience, or the commercial interests of the media that shape the narrative to the masses. These factors undoubtedly play a part, but I suspect the fundamental problem is complacency in the blind loyalty of voters and the parties reliance on ideological beliefs being more important to most of us than holding them to account over their competence. I speculate that virtually everyone who supported Brexit voted for the current government and that if Brexit is not concluded prior to the next general election, they will almost certainly vote Conservative again, even if they lost relatives to Covid and perceived the government’s handling of it to be poor
If you have any doubts about the leadership of your firm, what are you prepared to do about it? Will you attempt to address these failings, investigate a move to another firm or stay put regardless of how poorly the management perform? Bear the following in mind as a warning.
Donald Trump recently said that he “could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose voters”. Notwithstanding the very real possibility he would lose one by shooting the wrong person, he’s probably right. British politics is nowhere near as poisonous as in the USA, but it feels like polarisation is moving that way, and that ought not be good news for any citizen, regardless of your ideological beliefs. Do not allow this complacency into your work life as the end result could be nearly as unappetising.