In a party in Strasbourg last Monday for the Ambassadors for the Council of Europe, one dignitary revealed how he was met with just concealed hostility” by delegates from Germany and Belgium.
Herein, though, lies a paradox. I’ve claimed that Labour’s obsession with direction is a symptom of managerialism. And however well-run companies avoid the mistake that the party is producing. Among the key roles of a good CEO would be to recognize what the business is best at doing – its core competences – and also to ask how best to deliver them. Labour is just not doing this, but rather engaging in what I Have called cargo-cult direction. There’s a world of difference between great and managerialism management – and Labour reveals no hint of education this.
On the other, if we learned anything from the past five years it’s where the narrative is set, that this first period of government is. If you don’t stand up to the story now then you’re starting from in a hole.
So – perhaps, just like the Roman Dictator, Labour needs to be drafting in somebody who I wouldn’t like (self awareness minute) but the media do (Alan Johnson?) to keep nipping at the heels of the government while they work out a leader and a platform for the future.
Labour’s difficulty is that the Blair years have weakened the institutional capability of the celebration to listen to both members and admirers, having changed an energetic (and so annoying) organisation with an inactive one, and having produced autonomy suspect (thereby handing the SNP a gift in Scotland). The legacy of Philip Gould is a party incapable of creating new thinking in the grassroots, compared to taste-tasting the result of the media bubble as well as thinktanks.