Monday, 12 April 2021

The way things work


Some years ago, when I was working as an IT Project Manager, I went for an interview for a similar job with another company. From their advert, they seemed to be seeking exactly the experience which I could offer – a match which turned out to be far from accidental. At the interview, it rapidly became clear that they were looking to do business with my, then, current employer, and weren’t in the least interested in what I thought was my brilliant skillset and experience in the field, only in who I knew and what doors I could open for them. The advert had been worded specifically to attract applicants from the staff of the company which employed me at the time. Charitably, I marked it down to experience and a misunderstanding, and moved on.

I doubt that there was anything as formal as an interview involved when David Cameron was appointed to his nice little earner at Greensill. But whatever appointment processed was used, he can surely have been under no delusion that he was being sought out for any presumed skills or experience in the world of finance, because even he must be sufficiently self-aware to realise that he possesses neither. They wanted him – and appointed him – for one thing only: his contacts in government and his supposed ability as a consequence to get the company preferential access and preferential treatment. His messages to the Chancellor, his cosy chat with the Health Secretary – this bypassing of official channels in pursuit of favours was exactly what he was being paid for, and he seems to have been quite assiduous in carrying out his duties, even if, ultimately, rather less than entirely successful.

This is, of course, as my own experience on a much smaller scale attests, simply the way things work. It’s not the exception, it’s the norm. Mutual back scratching and the Old Boy network still hold sway over vast areas of business and politics in the UK. The really strange thing is that so many people seem to believe that the Cameron affair is some sort of newsworthy exception, and that meritocracy is the norm. But the only thing that’s truly different about the current government is that they’re so blatant and shameless about it all.

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