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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Watch the skies

The thing I can't take seriously about elections is the manifestos. Where else in life do organisations or people come up with a whole booklet detailing all the things they intend to do over the next few years, outlining how their measures (what a silly, misleading word that is) will change things and what's more change things for the better? I can't take it seriously, particularly on a morning where the biggest story of the moment, the planes crisis, wasn't even in anyone's thinking a whole week ago.

If this government had known that its time in office would be dominated by an unprecedented terrorist outrage perpetrated with Stanley knives, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, a national fit of righteous indignation over MPs expenses, the violent death of an estranged member of the Royal Family and the worst worldwide financial crisis since 1929, to name but a few, or that its last days in office it would be spent dealing with the fact that Middle England was stranded in its holiday resorts because of a volcano in Iceland, I don't think they would have spent quite so long dotting the i's and crossing the t's on their policy plan.

When Harold Macmillan was asked what he feared most in government he said "Events, dear boy, events". In his, relatively slow moving world, events came as single spies. In our connected one they come in battalions. The wise prime minister would say, I'm just going to sit here and wait for events.

7 comments:

  1. "Where else in life do organisations or people come up with a whole booklet detailing all the things they intend to do over the next few years, outlining how their measures (what a silly, misleading word that is) will change things and what's more change things for the better?"

    Corporate budgets?

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  2. Absolutely right, David. Black Swans will get you every time.

    I'm wary of becoming an evangelist, but Taleb's analysis of randomness seems so profound it almost makes me want to go back to Uni to really get to grips with maths/philosophy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory

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  3. Back in December 1980 John Lennon was dotting the i's and crossing the t's regarding a return to Blighty. Events overtook him, somewhat.

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  4. from the radio the other night:

    manifesto made up of the words manifest 'to make it happen' and o as in 'Oh! nothing's happened'

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  5. "Measures" come in "rafts".
    Looks like Cleggy's winning the contest to be the new Doctor Who. Isn't it exciting. No doubt the stuffy old IMF will come in soon and tell us all to get real and grow up. Squares.

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  6. I used to have to take part in dreaded planning meetings where we'd come up with all the things we were going to do that year, and my main contribution was usually "let's just deal with stuff that crops up", because there would always be stuff that would happen that we couldn't possibly know about.

    And then, 12 months later when we reviewed the original plan and tried to come up with reasons why things didn't get done, I'd take great pleasure in pointing out that things didn't get done because of the unexpected stuff that cropped up...

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