Monday, 22 February 2016


When “Management by Objectives” was in vogue, a colleague suggested that “Management by Lethargy” might serve us better. He argued that while we rushed around like busy fools, in the long run nothing changed.

Phil Angelides, who was Chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in America, has argued strongly that guilty bankers be charged. But ironically, he notes, we seem to have witnessed “Immaculate corruption” whereby no human being can be held accountable. The Banking Crisis was an act of God.
What is the point of doing anything if events turn out as they must do by some force of destiny? “Que sera sera”, sang Doris Day in the film “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” Increasingly, however, most men know far too little.

Economists, forecasters, politicians and journalists all seem stumped and, despite occasional displays of great certainty, experts keep on dropping the ball. Bobby Rao, one time Strategy Director at Vodafone and now a founding partner at Hermes Growth Partners, said presciently a few years back “no one knows where the ball is now.”

This is not a time for useless energy except insofar as being alert so when that ball pops into sight we can thwack it. So has life been reduced to Whac-A-Mole?

Maybe for some it has. Stephen Leacock the Canadian writer and economist wrote this in 1911 in “Gertrude the Governess” one of his nonsense novels: “Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.

He could have been writing about the Brexit crowd. On Friday at Westminster Hall they announced to tumultuous applause that they had a new, important recruit….  George Galloway.  Ah yes, that Churchillian figure….

Yet what makes democracy so special is it reflects the will (or the idiosyncrasy) of the people - hence the Trump, Sanders, Bloomberg (if he stands) story; hence the Corbyn story: hence Le Pen and all the rest.
But what I find strange about the burning desire to “do something …anything about Europe” is what the alternative might be including, maybe, destroying the EU? Most in the democratic west disliked Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi yet what’s succeeded them is almost certainly worse.

After a month or so trekking around meetings in Europe with intelligent businessmen I found none to whom the dead hand of the EU was seen as a reality let alone a problem. As part of Europe we are “torchbearers of the age of reason” in an unstable world - thank you Matthew Parris that was nicely put.

So not management by lethargy but how about management by reason, thought and a feeling for what we should be leaving our grandchildren?  The good things Europe offers not the Euro-myth of straight bananas.

Things like European Football; cheap, easy travel; being an important part of the world’s largest market and of a congress of civilisation.

I remember pre-EU. Our world is a better one now.

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