Friday 24 May 2019

The end is still not nigh enough

Getting things right with the benefit of hindsight is easy enough; getting them right in advance is a lot harder.  But Theresa May’s premiership was doomed to end in tears from the point at which she picked up a red pen and started drawing impossible and contradictory red lines.  From the outset, the approach she deployed was hopelessly inappropriate for the task in hand, but even as she departs, I don’t think she understands where she went wrong.  Everything is the fault of someone else.
One phenomenon which I’ve observed over many years, both in politics and in the world of work, is the inability of some people – Theresa May being a classic example, but far from the only one – to distinguish between the roles of leader, manager and boss.  The result of such an inability is that such people see ‘leadership’ as a role to which they are appointed or elected rather than a series of attributes and approaches, and once in the role behave as though their job is to give instructions – ‘boss mode’.  If a boss is what is required, it can work; but in the field of politics in particular, expecting others to do as you say ‘because I’m the boss’ is rarely an effective strategy.
Yet that is the strategy which we have seen time and again.  We saw it in the way in which she attempted to bounce the DUP into agreeing her original agreement with the EU27 in December 2017.  She hadn’t thought it necessary to consult or even discuss what she had agreed with the DUP, assuming instead that they would simply fall into line.  We’ve seen it several times in Cabinet meetings, where members come out not knowing what has been agreed and end up being surprised at what got presented as the ‘agreed’ outcome.  It was precisely that approach which caused the ultimate meltdown this week – Cabinet members appear not to have understood that she was assuming they were agreeing to her latest plan.
Some are expressing sympathy for her now that she’s been so unceremoniously forced out – I’m afraid that I have none.  She was the wrong person for the job from the outset, elected accidentally after her internal opponents’ campaigns went into meltdown, and appears still not to understand why.  Her repeated failure to understand that applying a winner-takes-all majoritarian approach was never going to heal divisions or reunite people has only made things worse.  Looking at the likely successors fills me with trepidation, and the Brexit clock is still ticking.  Her biggest – perhaps only – achievement has been to steal the title of worst PM from her predecessor.  Sympathy and false praise from those whose futures she has tried so hard to trash are wholly inappropriate responses.

1 comment:

John Dixon said...

Spirit of BME said (on a different post, but I think he probably intended it to be here....)

A good post.
I think that the red lines she made were lost by the time the ink was dry, as she forgot the basic rule of any negotiation – Control the timing and the agenda.
On your observation on Leader. Manager and Boss, totally agree – been there done that.
She was a classic boss who got people to do things for her by fear and intimidation, which indicates most times I have observed this, as a deep lack of confidence in themselves, hence the reputation she cultivated of “being a bloody difficult woman to deal with”. She had another problem that she was not a “lucky manager” in that she failed to spot, recruit good people around her, as we saw in the 2016 election.
Finally, my valet reports that below stairs in the servant’s hall, she is attracting the “poor mare” sympathy vote, but above stairs I am of the same mind as yourself, she stood for the job and was found out.