Sunday, 4 December 2016

Listen to the silence

Most people will have heard newly elected Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney's catastrophic interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer where a minder had to step in and cut the carnage short.

Briefly Hartley-Brewer dived straight in by suggesting that there should be another Richmond Park by election because voters did not really know what they were voting for when they elected Ms Olney. This of course is an obvious dig at the Lib Dem position on Brexit, a sauce for the goose argument.

Apart from Lib Dem duplicity which is old news, the interesting aspects were Sarah Olney's silences during the disaster. Stuck with an incoherent political position which nobody seems to have told her is incoherent, she did not know what to say. Neither has she acquired the political skill to babble her way to safety.

What did her silences signify? they showed us that the incoherence of her position stopped her nascent political personality from functioning. It highlighted how a personality can simply stop working when faced with situations which are too unfamiliar.

She stepped out of the Lib Dem bubble and like a failed light bulb she flickered then just went out when faced with Hartley-Brewer's breezy challenge. She stopped emitting. With no previous behaviour to draw on and imitate, her ability to improvise around her political personality was stumped. She doesn’t yet have a seasoned political personality to guide her through incoherent standpoints. In time she’ll acquire one.

Which is why governments will take more and more interest in behavioural psychology. It explains the silence, the stalled personality of this wet behind the ears MP. Personalities are not stable features of what we are; they vary from situation to situation. They improvise, create new responses while adapting to new situations. To do that successfully they need a history of passably successful responses to imitate. Without it they stall and Sarah Olney showed us a fascinating glimpse of a stalled personality. Not her everyday personality, but her naive political personality.

Listen to the silence.


Michael said...

It was rather like the time I was pulled over by plod on Christmas Eve.

I'd determined not to have even a sniff of alcohol during lunch, so was totally clear, but, hellfire, I just couldn't do a thing right...

I couldn't make the wipers work and when they did, they wouldn't turn off; the washers were empty, and PC Plod said is was probably my wife's fault for some reason. The lights went on and stayed on for some reason, and all I could do was gibber inanely after several more mishaps!

If I'd had eight pints, I'd have probably sailed through - naaaaah...

But she was awful in that interview. Just like a fifth-former in a school debate but more like her gabbling 'boss', who has absolutely nothing to say, so I suppose she learnt it all from him!

wiggiatlarge said...

This was a classic shoe in politician who could not answer any question because the interviewer was not of the usual "same mind set" as so many are and the questions were not vetted as in most cases.
She evidently had no thoughts about going into politics until a year ago, which begs the question on what basis the Lib Dems thought she would be good at the job.
When will political parties learn that putting in people 'they' want rather than people who are capable will come back to bite them in the arse, probably not soon as they keep doing it and tribal voting encourages it.

To say we are badly served by the political system is a gross understatement.

Sackerson said...

If you liked that you'll love this:

Demetrius said...

Captain Charles Waterhouse (see Wiki), where are you when we need you?

Sackerson said...

Sorry, Demetrius, bit thick today, please explain.

Demetrius said...

Errr, yes, met Captain Waterhouse a time or two, the local MP he was President of the rugger club I played for. First War veteran, served in The Lifeguards, business, charity etc. a very capable all round man. Also, very much to the point when speaking and made sure he knew what he was talking about. Did not suffer fools. In his later period he was a rallying point for Tory back benchers averse to all this nationalisation and Butskellism. Just a lit bit different from MP's of today. He was not alone in his talents then in The House, there were a lot of men and women who had done some real things. Even Dr. Edith Summerskill, I met her as well.

Sackerson said...

Thanks for the clarification.

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - virtually no experience too. How do they pick such a nobody?

Wiggia - it baffles me at times. What does she bring to the Lib Dems? Nothing as far as I can see. They need far more than she could ever offer.

Sackers - I don't really understand why they get themselves into such incoherent positions. It is so tempting to dismiss them as thick, but that's not it. Political bubbles must be part of it.

Demetrius - what would he have made of Sarah Olney and the Lib Dems? Different world with different values.