Friday, 23 June 2023

Being 'on it'


A colleague in one of the various places I worked over the years told us one day that she’d come up with a brilliant way of impressing our mutual boss with her commitment to the job. She had set up an ‘auto-reply’ rule in Outlook such that every e-mail from said boss received an instant response, saying “OK, I’m on it”. The potential flaws in this approach seemed a little obvious to me; whilst it’s a good response to a request for information or the completion of a task, there are plenty of other boss-originated e-mails to which it is a pretty poor response. And always receiving such a response within seconds to an e-mail sent at 3am (said boss did work all hours; the organisation had something of a culture of presenteeism) is never going to be entirely credible. Even leaving aside the practical issues and potential misunderstandings, what does the phrase even mean anyway? Sent automatically without the ‘sender’ having even read the original e-mail, it is an inherent lie from the outset.

It’s probably no surprise, therefore, that it was a phrase used by Sunak yesterday, albeit with the added flourish of him being ‘100%’ on it in relation to the cost of living problem. And it is, equally obviously, a lie. In this particular case, being ‘on it’ means that he has no plans to actually do anything except shout a bit of encouragement from the sidelines while the Bank of England engineer a deliberate recession in the strange belief that denying people money to spend will somehow overcome the barriers to trade which his government has chosen to erect. And being ‘100%’ on it implies that he is doing nothing else at all (although, on reflection, it might be better if that bit were true, given how much damage he causes when he does do anything).

In theory, it shouldn’t matter how wealthy a PM is, but a bland reassurance that “It is going to be OK and we are going to get through this” will always sound more than a little tone deaf coming from a multimillionaire who clearly doesn’t understand the sort of financial pressures which most of the population are facing, and who certainly isn’t facing them himself. His ‘we’ is really a ‘you’ in that context. Whilst he’s obviously trying to sound positive and upbeat, he really doesn’t have a clue as to how his statements sound. Telling people in increasingly desperate financial straits that all will be well as long as they don’t ask for pay increases sounds a bit like telling someone suffering from serious depression to pull themselves together, as though the solution is entirely in their own hands. The crisis is of the government’s own making, resulting from decisions that they have taken, and demanding that the majority suffer a drop in living standards to pay for the government’s mistakes is no substitute for action. Getting poorer more slowly isn’t the killer campaign line that they seem to think it should be.

1 comment:

dafis said...

Sunak is proving to be an even bigger cnut than I thought he was. At one time I saw him as a possible counterweight (despite his lack of Kg's!) to Boris' worst excesses when the Chunky One was P.M. Now he sits in a continuum of dross - Boris> Truss> Sunak,- with their innovative capacities entirely focussed on finding new or old ways of wrecking the UK. I don't think we can get out before UK sinks completely.