Government and Management

This is quite an interesting bit of detail about the Labour Party before this year’s election.

What strikes me about it is that Miliband was not in any kind of control of his immediate colleagues.

In a sane system, the chief ability of a leader, of government or of something intending to become the goverrnment, would be the ability to get a small group of people to work with him. In business, that is the most vital ability of a manager. Ed Miliband seems to have been greatly lacking in that ability.

The reason, obviously, is that he was not chosen for his ability to lead. He was chosen for his appeal to outsiders—party members, unions, voters. None of those groups would even be aware of his actual managerial competence.

People talk about the lack of “real world” experience of politicians, with backgrounds in think tanks or as assistants to other assistants. My assumption has been that the valuable experience is of the hard problems of keeping a business solvent, or whatever. But that’s much less relevant to a politicians job than the ability to take control of a meeting.

Of course, as with Nick Clegg, the fact that those around him are “rivals and enemies” makes the task much harder than it might be. All the more reason to demand exceptional ability at it.

Reading Jonathan Rauch on party machines (still free!), this was the main ability that politics selected for in the age of strong parties. The incompetence of Miliband and the like is a new thing.