Friday, 6 March 2020

The Tory mindset isn't complicated enough for conspiracy

It’s often said that there are always two possible explanations of events – the conspiracy theory and the cock-up theory.  Conspiracies are much more fun for pundits and soothsayers, but observation, experience of life, and judicious application of Occam’s Razor have long since led me to the conclusion that there are very few actual conspiracies in the real world.  The alternative explanation is much more probable.
That brings me to the curious statement by Paul Davies, leader of the Conservative group in the Senedd, today that if he becomes First Minister (and it’s not even the 1st of April yet), then he will clamp down on the Senedd ‘gravy train’, a euphemism which appears to be a reference to having the resources to do its job properly.  Ifan Morgan Jones, over at Nation.Cymru, suggests that this is evidence that Davies has realised that his only hope of being a part of any government is via some sort of arrangement with Plaid and that such an arrangement is so unlikely that he can ignore the possibility and concentrate on trying to get the Tories into first place so that they can label the inevitable Labour-Plaid government which would follow as a “losers’ coalition”.  Alternatively, it could be an even more cunning plan in which “Paul Davies loves devolution so much that he’s willing to sacrifice any hope of government in order to preserve the Senedd, by becoming a safe repository for anti-devolution votes”.  They’re both good and interesting theories and speculation is always good fun, but as an attempt to read the mind of a Tory in 2020, I wonder whether they might both be overcomplex and wide of the mark.
My alternative hypothesis would be that he’s identified a pool of disillusioned voters who, if he could get them all to support his party, could potentially give that party its best ever result, and that he hasn’t even begun to think beyond that about what happens after the election.  But then, why would he bother to think that far ahead?  If there’s one thing that the EU referendum, Trump’s victory, and last December’s election have taught us, it is that politicians don’t need to worry about any conflict between what they say to win a vote and what they do afterwards; not even their own core supporters will expect that of them.


Jonathan said...

Trump - don't fall for the idea that he doesn't do what he says he'll do. He does, he has to keep his base. Move Embassy to Jerusalem, 'build that wall', appoint originalist Judges, bring back jobs from Mexico and China, fracking, tackle China. His base is expanding (slowly)into women, blacks and Hispanics, as they reluctantly realise he is credible. I've only caught him out in one porkie, about the size of the crown on Inauguration. I realise lot of US voters don't like him. But they face the fact that he has more credibility than Democrats. His actual policies are fairly popular. He'd like to crack the big one, health. But he's up against the odd fact that neither party in Congress wants change - because they are both in hock to lobbyists and health sector donations. He wants re-election so tries hard to find out what his base wants, and to give it to them.
Johnson - OK he pleased his base with "Get Brexit Done", and won a vote in Parliament. Whether he can deliver Brexit in fact, or an upgrade for N.England is another matter. Its not clear to me that he knows who his base are or what they want beyond the Brexit slogan.I suspect he's too lazy to work it all out. We'll see.
Wales - what do the Welsh base want? I think all the parties are lost on this problem. Maybe because London pays them, not the Welsh taxpayers. McEvoy is good on potholes, and housing, and children in care. He is the Welsh politician best in touch with his base. But he'd admit that he needs to know more and needs, for example, a credible policy for the Wales NHS.
Personally, I think the Welsh feel the state of Wales badly. But they need a credible approach to Indy (or what ever the answer is) and they do turn to Welsh politicians for answers. Who can't work it out either.

dafis said...

Jonathan underestimates McEvoy's capacity to think through a bigger picture. True, much of his recent good work has been done addressing and solving issues at local community level. Not a bad start when you consider that many A.M's behave as though they are in some way absolved from giving a tuppeny toss about "constituents or communities despite such words cropping up frequently in their bursts of hot air. Despite, or perhaps because of, their self-built lofty detached aloofness those A.M's are generally pretty feeble at looking at any kind of bigger picture either except perhaps to draw fanciful conclusions and projections t pad out their hot air. To re-energise that building down the Bay and its occupants there needs to be a massive increase in contact with communities so that the boys and girls in grey suits get a better appreciation of needs and priorities. Then we might get away from some of the flabby nonsense that is now peddled as political dialogue/discourse and begin to make real progress. McEvoy looks most likely to manage that transition without straining his head or his heart.

CapM said...

I think your hypothesis of Paul Davies' Senedd election strategy is spot on.
It's been a charge against the "Left" that it sets out to attract support from as many and diverse minorities as possible in order to attain a majority.
Perhaps the "Right" have identified a similar potential winning strategy - attract the support of as many and diverse malcontents as possible.

Regarding the - conspiracy theory and the cock-up theory - dichotomy as it's applied generally I think it's false. There's a third option and if only to maintain all Cs lets say - Cock-up, Conspiracy or Concurrance.

As an example if the front doors of every house in one street are painted orange
It's not by chance - Cockup.
It's not necessarily because residents have met and come to a group decision on door colour - Conspiracy.
It's because the residents in the street have the same opinion which leads them to choose orange. The residents in the street need never even to talk to one another -Concurrance.

Jonathan said...

No, Dafis, I don't underestimate McEvoy. Health policy & finance is the toughest problem for a 2020 democracy. My daughter and son-in-law have been treating Neil's dad recently in cardiology. Get well soon, Mal! Neil takes Mal to the hospital and the NHS is very much on his mind. But here's the problem. If you ask a voter in South Wales Central what Wales should do about the Wales NHS, what will the voter say? Might they say 'the rich/London' should pay more, limitless'? Or'Wales should pay more, up to what Wales can afford, which will not be a lot"? Or (as some Tories might hope)"make us all pay for insurance, with Medicare for those who can't pay'? Neil (and I) might think we need an independent Wales to have a hope of growing enough to pay for a decent Wales NHS. Wales needs a simple proposition which makes sense to actual Welsh voters. Not easy.

dafis said...

Jonathan The point I make, perhaps with insufficient clarity, is that NM has the capacity because when confronted with a serious challenging problem he will draw on the thoughts and experiences of others. I didn't say it was easy but his efforts are more likely to produce a positive outcome because he doesn't come at it with a fixed ideological stance other than "we got to get this to work better by being smarter".

Pseudo-socialist thought leaders(oxymoron?) just want to "spend more, raise taxes" without giving much,if any,thought to the wider context that affects health or any other major policy area. Reactionary Tories and like minded types will purport to focus on "waste", not the real inefficiencies that need addressing but some illusion behind which they can hack away at a service until it falls apart. Both these extremes offer no value to our people. Only politicians who are prepared to innovate and drive change with real conviction will serve any good purpose. We are alarmingly short of such people right now.