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.


Email “too easy”

I was just listening to Jon Ronson’s piece for Radio 4 about how writing to MPs via email is apparently deemed to be irrelevant and that, unsurprisingly the No. 10 Petitions are ignored. The thing that struck me was that it took a while for radio to be adopted as a tool by politicians. Why should it be surprising that the Internet should be viewed with equal suspicion by politicians?

Ultimately, like a lot of technology someone comes along who has grown up with it and uses it instinctively as part of their lives. You have kind of already seen this in the Obama presidential campaign (although far from perfect). You see it with computer games and social networking.

No-one thinks that an MP’s office shouldn’t have a phone or a fax but you wouldn’t send them a telegram. So let the Luddites pour scorn on web constituents, someone else will probably value the votes.


Kirsty Allsop located in alternative universe

Kirsty Allsop, property matron, contributed a unintentionally hilarious moment to the otherwise tedious ING Direct newsletter I receive solely because they want me to take out a mortgage with them. During a self-serving rant about HIPS Kirsty charmingly declared in an outraged tone that the government would never dare interfere with professions such as teaching or doctors as they have so shamelessly interfered with property “professions”.

Presumably she would also be in favour of nationalising estate agents to ensure that their independence would never again be so threatened.


Local May Elections

I have been struggling to decide who to vote for this year. Obviously for tribal reasons I can't go Tory even though I think the current Conservative counciller is probably a good guy. That narrows down to whether I should vote for the Liberals, Greens or Labour.

Camden (currently Labour) is a pretty hotly contented seat and seems a likely canididate to swing given the current discontent with the Parliamentary government. However using local elections to send a national message is a losing game. Councillers probably affect your day to day quality of life more than any other politician and living with a protest vote for two years is something you can really come to regret.

In the end it was the Labour leaflet that persuaded me how to cast my votes. The Liberals run Islington and the Torys run Westminster. Can I live with two years of either of those?