Dhaka, Bangladesh
Politicians do really well

Politicians do really well

By Andre Spicer

If the British political system were a restaurant, there would be one special on the menu: the omnishambles. The way this dish has been served has changed over time. Recent variants include Brexit, universal credit and the new railway timetable. Past versions include the Iraq war, the NHS computer system and single payment scheme for farmers. It is as if, somewhere in the House of Commons library, there is a large, well-thumbed leather-bound volume containing the recipe for an omnishambles. Imagine opening it up. What would you find inside? Step one, take a good helping of people with an over- inflated sense of their own abilities. They should think their experiences in sectors such as consultancy, banking or the law apply perfectly to all other areas of human endeavour. If you are lucky, you will find they also have stubborn ideas about how the world should be which no amount of evidence will move. This will mean they will think the world should be forced to fit their idealised model of it. Next, give these people an opportunity to make a decision. Ideally that decision will be about an issue they have little or no experience in. The less knowledge they have about it, the better. Their lack of experience means they will apply simple solutions to complex problems and complex solutions to simple problems. If you have picked people with a really inflated sense of their own abilities, they will not listen to any experts in the area. In most cases their preconceptions will do. But if an expert is absolutely necessary, then they will find an expert who is willing to confirm their own views. Now leave this mixture to ferment. The issue is only likely to become more volatile when nothing substantial happens for a significant amount of time. This means what may have started out as a potentially soluble issue slowly grows into a wicked problem which even the most talented and well-resourced team could not deal with. Once the issue has started to overflow, jam it into the oven and apply heat. The best way to do this is by getting third parties involved. As tough questions start to be asked, the issue is likely to expand further. Keep up the heat for as long as you can. It will only make matters worse. When smoke begins to spew from your toxic creation, you need to be ready. Your instincts might be to remove it from the oven, dowse it with water, and start again. But it is crucial to resist your instincts. Double down, add more of your toxic mixture and turn up the heat even further. But at the same time, you need to be ready to make a quick exit. After all, you don't want to be around when the whole thing blows. After you are decisively out the door, your mixture should go up with a bang. There is a chance it will take a good number of innocent bystanders with it. Soon calls for a "show of leadership" will be heard. This is your cue to arrive back on the scene and start making grand symbolic gestures which get in way of people cleaning up the mess you made. Once the worst is over, you can start proclaiming that "this should never happen again" and "someone must be held to account". Ideal targets in your hunt for blame fodder could be the people who tried to stop you from doing it in the first place, those who reluctantly followed your orders or even those currently cleaning up your mess. After holding a few bystanders to account for the tragedy you created, you can go out and find yourself another omnishambles to cook-up. But beware, it is absolutely critical that you learning nothing from the last time. This means you should be able to repeat the procedure with the same reckless abandonment.

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