Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Hold my beer...
I read a tweet the other day. In a familiar theme it said: “...I object to contributing to so-called "Talent" fat cat salaries, a trained chimp could read from an auto cue for God’s sake...” These are the kind of things we all say from time to time – “I could do that. And I’d do a better job of it.” But could we? In theory, anybody could conduct an interview, but would it be watchable in the way a Frost or a Parkinson interview always was? And could there ever be an easy replacement for Andrew Neil and his unerring ability to take his prey to task and reveal the weakness of their ill-considered pronouncements?
No doubt some ‘talent’ does get paid way in excess of their worth by any objective analysis, but, in economic terms, how is ‘worth’ measured other than by the remuneration you can attract? Nurses and policemen, soldiers and ambulance drivers receive the apparent pittance they do in return for their vital and often harrowing work because at that salary it is usually possible to attract sufficient bodies to fill the spaces. Would paying more and being more rigorous in selection yield better results? Undoubtedly, but who pays for it?
At the extreme other end of the scale you get the abilities for which people rarely object to paying. World champions in every sporting arena don’t just spring from somebody saying “I could do that!” without then backing it up with gruelling training, perseverance and yes, ultimately, talent. Practice alone, supervised by the very best, is still not enough to quite literally go the extra mile if it just isn’t in you. Yet we all harbour an inner wannabe which manifests itself whenever we see somebody cack-handedly dealing a with a problem for which we think we have the answer. Oh yes, politics.
When it comes to running the country, balancing the national budget, bringing law and order to our streets, stabilising the climate and bringing peace and health and harmony to all we are all suddenly experts. And in fact, when it comes down to expertise we may just be right, because politics requires talents more akin to show business than to actual competence in the government roles our elected representatives find themselves. An interview with former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborn was aired on yesterday’s PM, in which he freely confessed to not being much of an economist and argued that it just wasn't important for the job.
Similarly, Home Secretaries rarely grasp law and order and social justice and immigration and, er, people. Defence ministers have little understanding of the detail involved in going about the world killing our enemies and the diplomatic skills of most Foreign Secretaries would, well... see Boris Johnson. And having, finally, got to the point of this edition of the blog, what of Boris; Prime Minister elect? The pundits think so, the media seem pretty sure and the opposition (which includes most of the Tory Party, by all accounts) are driving themselves into a frenzy of envious fizz at the prospect.
What talents does he possess? Look at his appalling record of back-tracking, lying, committing public gaffes, adultery, rugby-club behaviour... hair! And of course, none of this is in the least bit relevant. It ought to be, but it’s not. Because all that matters here is his single, unique attribute – he is Boris Johnson. Love him or loathe him – and I wouldn’t trust him an inch – he is the one thoroughbred in the race and everybody who thinks otherwise is looking at the wrong form guide.
Har, phwa-fwafaar... wiff-waff!
The other names, the also-rans, are trying to pretend they have the talents to do the impossible job. But everybody knows that whoever gets to occupy the big chair will almost immediately face the challenge of a general election. And when it comes down to it, almost none of the other faces in the starting blocks have any traction with the voters. No matter what qualities you think you want in a Prime Minister, Boris has the only talent that matters right now. He is electable – gawd knows why; he just is. You couldn’t do it, I could never do it, the Rory Stewarts of the world can’t do it as long as their arses point downwards, but Boris can. Brace yourselves for a bumpy ride.