Thursday, 16 March 2017

Storms and Teacups

I made a mistake at work. I made a mistake and for three whole months nobody noticed. Yesterday, somebody sort of noticed; they were confused, because they didn’t understand what they were looking at but, called in to help, I found it and fixed it... and then happily admitted that it was my fuck-up. Had I been a politician... or Katie Hopkins, I would have been pilloried on social media, tarred and feathered in the national press and hounded from my livelihood, the snapping jaws of angry commentators at my heels.

Humans make mistakes. It’s what we do; it’s actually how we get good at stuff. Everything is simultaneously both more simple and far more complex than it seems from the outside and it’s only by prototyping, failing and trying again that we have ever achieved anything. If at first and all that... Pretty much every minister, in every administration, from any party in any given year has fucked up. Given that they rarely get the chance to stay in office for long, so demanding are public expectations and so destructive a force is politics, that it is a wonder anybody manages to get good enough to achieve anything satisfactory at all.

So, Spreadsheet Phil’s fiscal calculus turns out, on examination, to be not to everybody’s taste. But what a circus has surrounded what has now been concluded was a failure to check what the party to which he belongs had committed to at the last general election. If that’s true – and it seems highly unlikely on the face of it – it was a fuck up, but then 2015 is an entire political era ago. So what? He has cancelled what was genuinely a pretty insignificant policy in order to quell a potential revolt at a time when a low-majority government needs the support of its back benches. The ‘optics’ may have been clumsily managed but it’s hardly the major political nightmare some people so desperately want it to be.

Labour MP Angela Rayner tweeted “Philip Hammond announces full U-turn on National Insurance hike for self-employed workers, the Tory budget continues to fall apart.” Which is somewhat odd as she is on record as having been spitting mad on behalf of the self-employed in her constituency when he announced the policy. Is this really the job of opposition? To boo and jeer when absolutely anything is announced by government and then to boo and jeer when, on further reflection, a proposal is rejected or reversed? We hate you for suggesting it and now we hate you for acting on our hate?

Storm still comin'...

Meanwhile in Holland, the governing party losing a few seats, but not as many as expected and the Freedom Party gaining a third more, but not as many as hoped is being portrayed in all the media as some form of rout for Geert Wilders. The focus shifts from Phil Hammond’s so-last-week affair to – in the view of the more lefty press – the utter defeat of the ‘far right’. Is it any wonder we get the politicians we do? Has nobody been noticing all the attention given to misinformation and ‘fake news’ and sheer, unadulterated, hyped-up bullshit that spews from the partisan press on all sides? As one storm subsides another gathers and every now and then comes a storm big enough to change everything. Brace yourselves.

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