The dark side of the entrepeneur

The recent disgrace of Peter Cruddas is particularly interesting to me as a way of illustrating the dangers of bring the vaunted “skills” of the the private sector into public life. I actually feel sorry for Cruddas, I consulted at his company once and met him at a project conclusion meeting. When he talks about “bluster” and the fact that he was not in a position to deliver what he was claiming to be able to I actually believe him.

A lot of “enterprising” sorts (not just the ones born in the East End) are in the habit of “over-promising” what they can deliver. Less politely, a lot of them lie about their achievements, support and capabilities. Partly out of insecurity, like Cruddas, partly out of habit, partly out of ego. The thing is that in their natural environment they mix mostly with people who are doing the same thing and are never subject to any kind of meaningful scrutiny. Everyone can swim along in their happy bubble of hyperbole.

Stepping outside of that cosy world into the more brutal and unforgiving political one is fraught with dangers. Talking a load of shit to an investor or customer is unlikely to result in the conversation being plastered over the Internet. In fact often these conversations are private because of the collusion of the listeners, everyone is after something after all.

Entrepreneurs often regard journalists and politicians with scorn and they often find it hard to break the swaggering, boastful exaggerating habits of their private world. Working in public life requires a very different approach, despite the best efforts of vested interests public business is a lot more transparent than the private sector.

Private individuals have a lot to offer the state but I suspect that direct employment is the worst way to access those abilities. Contracting deliverable products would seem far more sensible. Advice is far better taken for the price of a coffee than a “premier league” donation.


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