Introducing the next UK Prime Minister?
In the last few weeks, my two daughters have started to talk about Jacob Rees-Mogg and follow him on Twitter for a bit of a laugh. I am not sure that they have looked into his politics too closely, but he is getting what his Twitter fan club calls “Moggmentum”. This slightly amazed me, because I thought a posh, Oxford-educated, Catholic, Euro-sceptic, old Etonian who historically opposed gay marriage was not exactly what the doctor ordered in the current politically correct world. But start to think of him as the absolute opposite of Donald, and maybe it makes sense. The interview below is not for the fainthearted, it’s about as politically incorrect as it gets from the Ali G side of the fence, so be warned.
Although the footage is old, it does demonstrate a young Jacob Rees-Mogg doing a reasonable job of holding off one of the world’s greatest pranksters. It also goes some way to explain why this clip has recently had 175,000 hits on Facebook despite the footage being years old.
The odds on Rees-Mogg being the next Prime Minister have been slashed to 4-to-1, and the posh father of six’s moggmentum in the polls comes from the young and old. I’m not a fan of many of his policies, but what does that have to to with popularity in politics these days? What fascinates me is what being authentic in a world of scripted politics can do for your popularity.
If you can be bothered, have a read of the article I have written below, which I think contains a couple of interesting ideas.
Have a good laugh and a good weekend,
The credibility gap
The biggest problem currently facing the world is not the standard of public health services, the grotesque inequality that exists in society, or even the somewhat terrifying geopolitical risks facing the world, it is the quality of politicians we entrust to run our countries and address these issues on our behalf. The logic is simple, without world-class talent running a country, how can we attempt to fix the vastly complex problems listed above?
Symptoms versus cause
The meteoric rises of President Trump in the US, Emmanuel Macron in France, or Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, have two simple root causes.
Firstly, the deflationary impact of technology over the past decade has eroded real incomes for the middle- to lower-class. In practical terms, this means that people have been working harder for less, and it is quite natural that they blame the incumbents who oversaw the decline in living standards.
Secondly, a disenfranchised electorate has become so disillusioned with the authenticity of candidates across all parties, that they now feel compelled to disrupt the status quo no matter how great the pain.
Business versus politics
If one thinks of countries as socially-conscious businesses looking to maximise their tax take to help society’s most disadvantaged and our politicians as untrained CEO’s placed at the helm of their state or constituency, then it’s easy to see the absurdity of the situation.
It is almost inconceivable that we require stringent training of our doctors, nurses teachers, lawyers and even football coaches, but expect our politicians to be fit for the complexities of running the country with “on-the-job training”.
Maybe if the UK’s MPs had been trained in risk and compliance, two thirds of them might not have transcended the parliamentary rules in the Commons expense scandal several years ago?
The unelected adviser
Due to a poor fundamental grasp of so many deeply complex situations, and being moved from job to job, our politicians have become too heavily dependent on unelected advisers. This causes further trauma with the electorate, which wants politicians to be fluent in their understanding of situations and have conviction in their own beliefs; most sound-scripted politics have become a breeding ground for electoral disaffection.
I would argue strongly that recent political results suggest voters treasure authenticity almost as highly as their own political beliefs. This goes some way to explaining the Trump effect. You may violently disagree with his politics and his behaviour, but somehow people became enchanted by his authenticity, not his politics.
It has been obvious for years that since the modern media became so incredibly intrusive, our most talented members of society shy away from politics and for good reason.
It’s time to come up with some really big ideas to help lift the quality and training of the people in power, for without inspirational leadership almost any cause is lost. Here are a couple of my ideas to help drag politics out of the abyss.
Holding politicians to the standards they hold for others
Let’s create cross-party political academies whose sole purpose is to train politicians from an apprenticeship level and throughout their careers. We should use public money to recruit, train and educate people from all backgrounds and political beliefs so that they learn the skills necessary to do the job. Where possible, let’s expose them to scientific and economic case studies underpinning their own beliefs so that they can better scrutinise the basis of their political foundations.
These institutions should be set on modernising politics and teaching both incoming and existing politicians about automation, gene sequencing, the environment, foreign affairs, economics, disruption and numerous other different subjects.
Students could graduate and specialise with recognised qualifications and, most importantly, reinforce their knowledge with regular and relevant maintenance courses over the duration of their careers in a rapidly-changing world.
If you study medicine, you very often go on to specialise. It’s unusual to see a brain surgeon being given the job as Head of Oncology, and yet with politics that is exactly what happens. Under the current system, the finance minister of any country could be innumerate, they can then be moved on to run foreign affairs. Put simply, our politicians are not immune to the same laws that govern every single student, teacher, lawyer, nurse and business – they need constant and continual training.
Finally, let’s deweaponise healthcare so that politicians can’t use people’s health as a campaign differentiator. If central banks can be given their independence to stop interest rates being used for political purposes, then why can’t we do something similar with healthcare?
Healthcare policy should be run by a cross-party body with experts in genomics, liquid biopsy, gene editing, AI, telemedicine, finance and a representative body of healthcare experts and employees. Budgets would be set at a percentage of GDP and the institution given autonomy in the same way as central banks. This would achieve two potentially important things.
Firstly, it would stop politics descending into the abyss during campaigns, which protects both the elected and the electorate, and secondly, it would be fit for purpose in the rapidly-evolving world of healthcare.
Unlike many, I believe that our current crop of politicians are exceptionally well-intentioned people who really wish to make a difference. I also believe that they are set up to fail, due to a lack of structure in recruitment and training.
What better use of public- or privately-donated funds than to invest in the people who run the country, by applying the same philosophy to them as they wish to apply to others when it comes to education, training and apprenticeships?