Every week the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the Young Britons’ Foundation,
Donal Blaney, explains one of Morton Blackwell’s Laws of the Public
Policy Process. Morton Blackwell is the Founder and President of the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.
Given that politics is very much about the art of communicating ideas, it has often astonished me how bad politicians are at communicating with each other. Misunderstandings frequently arise and all too frequently result in mountains being made out of molehills.
While some disputes are based on matters of principle (such as over Europe during the Thatcher Years) or naked personal ambition (such as between Blair and Brown since 1994), all too often a minor issue will develop into a festering sore, thereby destroying relationships between erstwhile friends when this could all have been avoided if the lines of communication had run smoothly. Email has, of course, a lot to answer for in this regard given that emails meant as humourous by the sender can often come across as terse or inappropriate to the reader.
Many people involved in politics are either blowhards or simply too
busy to do everything they say they will do. All of us, at one time or
another, will have promised to do things and simply not had the time to
do so (or, worse, forgotten to do so). I hold my hands up to this too.
In today’s digital age, where information, gossip and news can spread
around the political village and the globe so quickly, it is imperative
that when tasks have been assigned and work has been agreed to be done,
the person who has undertaken the task in question reports the outcome
to his superior.
To beat a machine as formidable as New Labour – and despite their poll
troubles, let us not assume for one minute that their Labour Lie
Machine is not still a formidable beast – requires that conservatives
work efficiently, proactively and diligently.
Time is not a luxury if we are to avoid a fourth successive election
defeat. It is therefore crucial that if someone agrees to do something,
they do it promptly and they report the outcome promptly too. If
someone fails to do what they said they would do, the task should be
reassigned and the recalcitrant individual should be given less
time-sensitive tasks and responsibilities. This is nothing more than
common sense but it is astonishing how often it is ignored for fear of
upsetting the individual in question.
It is for those in leadership positions to ensure that the right people
are given the right responsibilities, often against the will of those
who are being sidelined or whose responsibilities are reallocated
against their wishes. This naturally requires careful man-management,
lest a seasoned but perhaps now unreliable activist becomes so
disenchanted as to cease offering his or her time as a volunteer or,
worse, leaves the conservative fold.
Prompt action, proactivity and reporting of results is essential if
conservatives are to regain control of the levers of power in 2009 (or
whenever the next election is to be held). The days of genteel
amateurism must be behind us. A more ruthless, focussed and efficient
animal is needed if we are to drive this inept government from power.
Previous entry in this series: The test of moral ideas is moral results