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Brexit, complexity and the tangle of European minds
British debate is dumbing down arguments to misleading simplicity
One of the most worrying features of Brexit is that the UK seems to have lost the capacity to manage complexity. Many individuals in Britain can, of course, still grapple with difficult issues as well as anyone.

But the UK system, taken as a whole, seems to have become unable to understand and manage the complex issues arising from the country's efforts to disentangle itself from the EU.

This incapacity to deal with reality is evident in the ongoing fiction that there are serious negotiations going on to change the Northern Ireland backstop.

There seems to be a growing need in the British public debate to boil arguments down to a level so simplistic that they end up somewhere between misleading and meaningless.

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However, our nearest neighbour raised to a fine art the presentation of competing views as half-witted, shared achievements as national victories, compromise as national defeat, and above all childish fiction as gospel fact.

On the path which led towards Brexit, the unwillingness of the UK tabloid media and many politicians to absorb, or even admit the existence of, complex detail led to David Cameron's abandonment of any effort to sell the deal he had painstakingly agreed with EU partners.

The popular British perception is that Cameron was offered next to nothing by the EU; the truth is that, in terms of the balance of interests involved, the deal was reasonable and significant. Cameron, having negotiated the package, decided on the basis of the initial media reaction that it was just too complex to sell.

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Not surprisingly, the deal which Theresa May negotiated, shaped and signed up to in the autumn, with its necessary compromises, has proved too complicated for those who were fed for many years on a diet of straight bananas rather than straight talk.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 10:09:18 AM EST
It's not that Cameron's deal was too complex, it was that he'd set up a narrative beforehand of "Victory or Referendum".

What the media expected was for Cameron to go to Brussels and give them a Thatcher-esque handbagging. When Cameron emerged from the meeting conspicuously lacking Angela Merkel's head on a plate, the obvious tabloid interpretation was that he'd failed.

Farage seized his opportunity to shout into every microphone he could see (and there were many) that Europe could not be negotiated with. Given the expectations he'd already set up, by the time Cameron got near a microphone, he was already a loser.

Cameron's problem was that, although he was Prime Minister, he was really only playing one on TV. He had no political intelligence, no low cunning. He should never have fallen into making himself hostage to an impossible bargain in the cheap way that he did.In this he was consistently outplayed by flyweights like Boris and Gove. But, given his Eton and Oxford background he thought he'd be good at poltics because he was privileged and entitled and so deserved it. The idea that it had to be worked for and worked at simply never occured to him.

The moment he encountered a difficulty, he resigned. It would have been better for everybody if he'd retired to the library with a good cigar, a bottle of whisky and a revolver. Indeed he could have done that in 2010 for the betterment of us all. But we aren't so blessed with men of principle nowadays. Just over-promoted chancers

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 03:42:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the author, Bobby McDonagh, former Irish Ambassador to the EU, UK and Italy, covers your point by writing "However, our nearest neighbour raised to a fine art the presentation of competing views as half-witted, shared achievements as national victories, compromise as national defeat, and above all childish fiction as gospel fact".

In my latter years as a senior manager in Diageo the management culture had effectively changed from Irish and Scottish to English dominated. Managers who had spent decades working for what they believed to be the best interests of the company were dismissed as dead wood to be replaced by English "young turks" good at PowerPoint presentations but little else.

What had been a production and quality dominated management ethos become dominated by a marketing ethos where facts mattered little and we started selling "consumer experiences" rather than quality drinks - perhaps best exemplified by the alcopops boom.

IT systems which had a demonstrated track record of delivering huge benefits in a production environment where replaced by "vapourware" which operated only on powerpoint - at a cost of millions. I finally resigned on principle after one such episode although there were also personal factors driving my decision.

But it left me with an abiding impression of a UK management culture dominated by the marketing of simplistic illusions rather than the complexities of making sophisticated products or managing complex processes.

Cameron always struck me as the epitome of that genre: probably a nice enough bloke, personable and charming if he wanted to be, and with an ability to sell oil to the Arabs. But don't ever put him in charge of a complex negotiation or governmental reform.

And yet compared to the current lot, he was probably an intellectual giant!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 04:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's McKinsey ethos aka seagull management. Fly in, shit on everything, fly out with promotion

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 05:37:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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