Monday, 24 October 2016
They say that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. All the ideas are in there – tick those boxes - but the fox would be laughing his head off if the Quorn tried to pursue it mounted on a herd of dromedary. Back to the drawing board you might think, but there is a perversity in human nature that makes purity of vision a rare thing and imperfect outcomes of those committee decisions have a habit of persisting whether they work or not.
Consider the European migrant crisis. Despite various ‘summits’ and much tub-thumping and the will of the people being expressed in frustration on a daily and very clear basis, there is still no coordinated approach to solving the problem. The problem is, of course, that all of Africa seems to want to move here. Africa, with all its abundant resources, is incapable of solving its own problems; imagine an African committee designing a horse. No, don’t. The migrants may reconsider their plan after a few months in a British winter. Unlike, say, a Scandinavian winter wonderland we just seem to get all the left over bits of weather – wet, dark, gloomy... maybe some slush.
On the climate committee nobody can even agree what the real problems are, let alone establish priorities with the result that we simultaneously throw £billions at schemes which benefit landowners and foreign manufacturers while ignoring the less sexy, closer to home and ore effective solutions of better energy performance and education. If the windfarms are still standing in fifty years it will be interesting to measure their true cost-benefit performance, rather than just the sometimes fraudulent claims used to attract funding.
Wherever you look, everything is too complicated for governments to solve; too many competing opinions and theories clog up the system and prevent effective solution from being driven through. In education there is the perpetual merit versus equality conundrum; how can we promote excellence while allocating so many resources to controlling behaviour and struggling to achieve mediocrity? Our police forces are failing to tackle what most of us regard as real wrongdoing, but logging like crazy anything which can remotely be described as a hate crime.
Politics, government at least, is supposed to try and solve all this but in trying to accommodate every crackpot principle and leave no group knowingly unoffended, they tie themselves in Gordian knots of indecision. And look at the groups supposed to hold the government to account; Ukip is going through its death throes, Labour appears determined to remain in ineffective opposition for ever, the Greens continue to make no impact at all and the LibDems, despite the illusory ‘Witney surge’ are pretty much done for.
British politics has become that horse drawn by committee. Too many fingers, too many pies, too detached from the people who elect it. We need to throw away the blueprint and go back to the drawing board but as that isn’t going to happen we need to content ourselves with the closest thing to a recognisable government we can find. Love her or loathe her, Theresa May is currently the only horse in this race. Short of turning the country off and turning it back on again we have to work with what we’ve got.