Saturday, 15 December 2012

Cameron isn't the spider

I’m sure it is a mistake to see David Cameron as Prime Minister in a traditional sense. His role could usefully be translated as Area Manager (UK).

It is his primary role to oversee a complex and evolving process whereby the UK meets a vast and rapidly evolving network of transnational obligations deriving from treaties, international law and international standards.

It's a continually evolving web where Cameron isn't the spider.

From defence to climate change, from international banking to road signs, from internet standards to human rights and thereby to social norms, there is virtually nothing beyond these obligations for Cameron to pursue. So they are almost all he pursues. Even where there is apparent latitude, such as tax policies, vested interests set the rules.

His role as Area Manager (UK) is virtually his only role, the role he signed up for, the role he probably knew he was signing up for and the role he intends to carry out. His successor will do the same.

Transnational obligations stem primarily from the EU and UN, but there are many others too, such as NATO and the ECHR. It seems to me though, that the crucial point is the rate at which these obligations have grown over a matter of a few decades. Today, they are so complex and numerous, that it is impossible for one individual to understand, or even research them effectively.

A further complexity entangling what used to be the Prime Minister’s role are a huge number of lobbying groups from fake charities to trade bodies with directorships and consultancy sinecures in their back pockets. Their role is both to maintain established narratives and to ensure governments do not go off-message or get carried away by a party manifesto or any other wild promises.

As for the future, it will be more of the same because there are certainly no countervailing trends. On the whole, the obligations Cameron manages directly are few – he has ministers and the civil service for that. In that, he is much the same as other recent Prime Ministers and the next will be much the same as Cameron. Hairstyle may change, but little else.

The issue is so complex and the forces perpetuating it so powerful, that nothing we do as voters makes the slightest difference. Pointing these things out as best we are able may be balm to the soul, but is not an effective call to action as most voters still vote for the current trend by voting for one of the big three parties. As far as I can see, only disaster will trigger genuine change.

By the next UK general election, the UK network of obligations will be even more extensive and even more complex and limiting on the Prime Minister's sphere of action, simply because this is what the EU and UN do – what they have the power and the funds to continue doing.


Scrobs... said...

Dear old lefties like Wedgie used to say that we must listen to the issues, not the personalities. (Actually in his case, 'dangerous' springs to mind)

While the issues become hopelessly entangled and even less understood, the easiest retort is to bash the 'personalities' and leave it at that!

Good post!

Sam Vega said...

Who is the CEO, and who are the shareholders? I'm pretty sure I haven't received a dividend in ages.

Demetrius said...

I like the idea of Area Manager. And the trouble he that he is taking care of an area that is is one huge mess. So he cannot and will not deliver. The Cameron Clan territory has a lot of midges, so is he a midge rather than a spider?

Anonymous said...

What cheerful soul you are AK. I agree with your situation analysis - so what to do? Perhaps a 'strong leader', perhaps we could take over some other country and pinch their resources - Denmark or Norway say. Best not tackle Germany, we'll get handbagged good and proper. Perhaps an alliance with a strong up-and-coming nation - er maybe
not. Perhaps the brainboxes in Oxbridge have some clever ideas we can export - er all the clever students are foreigners who email the secrets home asap.

The Japanese have been in this boat for a while and look like implementing the answer - massive inflation plus currency devaluation. Kiss goodby to your savings and pension. All that house-price value - poof - gone. Wheelbarrows anyone? Good news for the young though.

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - yes, the issues are a distraction when what matters is behaviour. Cameron does not behave as a PM - so he isn't one.

Sam - no you haven't, so you could vote accordingly.

Demetrius - he's annoying enough to be a midge. The trouble is, they all are.

Roger - maybe we should buy gold?

James Higham said...

His role as Area Manager (UK) is virtually his only role, the role he signed up for, the role he probably knew he was signing up for and the role he intends to carry out. His successor will do the same.

Except, his successor won't be in power.

A K Haart said...

James - I wonder how long we'll pretend otherwise.