Take me to your leader…

July 19, 2022 10:28
Photo: Reuters

The most accurate description I have ever heard of a leader, is the person who knows what to do in a given situation.

On an ad hoc basis, this invariably proves to be correct. But when talking about selecting a country’s leader, the definition has to be refined to the person who makes the right judgment calls.

As with any organisation, it is essential to bring together a team of individuals who, each for his or her own part, brings both knowledge and judgment to the table.

Consequently, the skilled leader must also have the capacity to combine the individual talents of the team, in order to distil the best solutions.

The current leadership contest to head the United Kingdom’s Conservative party and become Prime Minister of the country throws these qualities into sharp focus.

More accurately, it would create such definition if the candidates had such skills and were applying them to the burning issues of these times.

The debate, if that word can be sufficiently debased to describe what looks increasingly like the spat between the cats of Kilkenny, is skewed to appeal to the little Englander faction of the party instead of the pressing issues that beset the country.

Once the Conservative party defenestrated mature, balanced members like Rory Stewart, Ken Clarke and Sir Nicholas Soames, it lost its moral and ethical compass.

The massive economic damage that has been caused by leaving the European Union is not being faced squarely.

The internecine strife that bubbles just below the surface of Northern Ireland could all too easily burst into open violence because the Johnson government signed up to an agreement that it knew was unworkable.

The effects of the pandemic brought the country to its knees, casting people into debt, causing psychological harm that has yet to be measured and damaged the education of hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren.

To date, the current UK government has not even thought out a plan to rescue the economy and mitigate the loss of full-time education, let alone begun to implement it.

Despite which, the contestants waffle on about tax cuts and inflation in a way that conveys their disconnection with the realities faced by the population at large.

What does it say about Rishi Sunak, whose message is that people are looking for honesty, when he evades the direct question of whether or not Boris Johnson is honest?

To Tom Tugenhadt’s credit, he definitively shook his head to the direct question. The fact that China has banned him from entering any of their territory is highly unfortunate but could be regarded as the seal of good housekeeping in some quarters.

Reality TV was never more depressing than watching these wannabe Prime Ministers duck and dive like seasoned criminals being questioned about a crime for which they have just been caught, red-handed.

The fatuous studio audience – from which funny farm were they selected? – roared their approval when a contestant said it was not about winning the leadership contest but winning the next election.

If the contestants could only get their heads out of the sands of delusion in which they are so firmly embedded, they would realise that the electorate knows that the country is drifting, rudderless and leaderless into ignominy.

A situation largely brought about by a Prime Minister with an incurable allergy to honesty, shored up by a collection of cabinet Ministers you would not trust to baby-sit your guinea-pig.

There are questions to which a simple yes or no would demand some elaboration but there are others that scream out for a one-word response.

It was sickening to watch these contestants, in the main, evading direct answers to questions which cried out for a clear, definitive response.

Liz Truss’ macabre attempt to imitate Margaret Thatcher was the most puke-inducing spectacle of the night.

Meanwhile all the ‘extras’ from Central Casting are running around shoving their rubber knives into the backs of the opponent their favourite fears most.

One of the most revealing of such attacks was by Fatty Frost who complained that when Penny Mordaunt was his junior as Brexit Minister, she had not attacked the EU with sufficient vehemence.

All these people are living in the past, like Rees-Mogg with his declaration that Crecy, Agincourt and Waterloo are what the UK is all about.

Unless and until politicians square up to the fact that leaving the single market and the European Customs Union has created phenomenal damage to the country’s financial equilibrium, the downward spiral will continue unabated.

That Sir Keir Starmer has declared that his party will not seek to rejoin these two institutions, means that the country is condemned to wander, in self-induced blindness, in an increasingly hostile world, looking for band-aid solutions when redemptive surgery is what is most needed.

The conclusion to which one is driven, is that the UK’s political system is in need of life-saving reconstruction.

What we are seeing is the weakness of democracy when in the hands of fools and mountebanks.

The entire system needs a detox and a massive transfusion of whole new blood, no frozen plasma. Failing which, I fear fatal hypovolaemic shock.

Did I hear someone say ‘Leader?’

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