I may be a little tired and ragged. Perhaps the heat has sapped my patience too, but I need to rant. I think for the first time in my life I am witnessing a Government’s inner circle prepared to indulge in wilful incompetence.
A-Level results moderated by algorithm is the latest example and a metaphor for our times.
A small group of politicians who distrust experts so much (in this case teachers) that they have sanctioned a technology that is palpably unjust, and yet they still hold to its incredulous results. All to serve their insatiable belief in their own infallible self-regard. The magic thinking is that their algorithm must be a better test than the lived experience of teachers and students who actually did the work, together, in a classroom over the last two years.
Similarly, we have had a failed “Track and Trace” app for Covid that was meant to be “world beating”, and non-existent border technology for Brexit that was meant to enable frictionless trade. Instead we could not track or trace a Minister with a clue, and we risk turning Kent into a lorry park of such a scale that the International Space Station will have a new landmark to navigate by.
Real experts with real expertise are disparaged for, presumably, failing to be a disciple of those with magic thinking. The sort of magic thinking that flows from a mandate from “the People” to promise what cannot be delivered. However, magic thinking also ensures that there is no such thing as failure, just an opportunity to spend fortunes (of our money) to fund outrageously speculative solutions.
This is the logic of the addicted gambler playing longer and longer odds to recoup what is already lost. He sells everything including his soul, but with a con-man’s smile and a hint of what the hell have I got to lose.
Meanwhile people have died who should be alive; businesses have failed that could still be trading and now students will carry a lifetime of “what if” anxiety – and for what? Mostly, it seems to me, to keep a few super-inflated egos topped-up with the noxious gas of populism and a rubber tube fitted to whiff their own shameless arrogance.
Leadership in public life used to mean something important, now the playbook says never apologise, double-down; insult rather than debate, assert rather than test, bully don’t listen, sack dissenters and then personalise the criticism of them. Drive on, no map required, because the mandate we have is to do whatever we like.
In the end we are all gas-lit to the point of wondering if we might be making too much of it all. After all, at least this isn’t America, and there is football back on the telly, and we can go to the pub. But we’re not making too much of it all. This is lazy, careless, destructive, shameless, self-aggrandising and self-amused naughty boy politics.
It has long been said that power corrupts, but I think it is worse than that this time. Corruption is a contained irritant. It is something that leaves a stain, but one that can be cleaned up. What we are seeing now is that power corrodes. It is disfiguring public life in general, and scarring generations for possibly decades to come.
This is not something to make fun of in a satirical half hour on TV, this is the debasement of our values, our communities, our hopes. It is a disgrace.
Mistakes are forgivable. Making the wrong call when not all the information is available is not shameful, and caring counts for a lot. However, this is not what is happening. Time, after time, after time we are being played.
Public health matters less than backing your mates. Pretending you protected care homes matters more than the lessons you could learn from a catastrophic mis-judgment. Throwing money at implausible technology is better than admitting we might have got things wrong. Buying ferries that do not exit and PPE that does not protect is just so much whiff-whaff. What’s a few million quid among donors and loyal friends? As for close family, obviously, let’s give a peerage to our little brother because we had to be a bit beastly to him over supper last year.
Now, the primus knobhead inter pares is pouring anxiety over thousands of teenagers for no better reason than to do the right thing would reveal an uncomfortable truth about the whole sorry shitshow he leads. It is all utterly, utterly damning. You cannot op-ed your way out of this. Simply put, lives have been wrecked for your sense of infallible entitlement.
Born to lead? Chosen to succeed? My arse.
Take care everyone, I’m sorry for ranting. Rant over.