Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Getting Away With Being Thick

It's not at all necessary to be very bright at the top: indeed, it may even be a disadvantage (see O.Letwin, D.Willetts).  Instead, you can get away with:
  • being clever enough (ideally, a bit cunning)
  • stamina, not to say relentlessness
  • scrubbing up nicely
  • being thought a decent chap(ess)
  • delivering a good soundbite in a nice tone of voice
  • not frightening the horses
  • knowing your limitations
  • surrounding yourself with really bright people you can trust
Readers will know that from the get-go I've accused T.May of being a bit thick.  I know that of which I speak.  Furthermore, because her Oxford generation is rather well represented in the Westminster Bubble, so do P.Hammond, D.Green, D.Grieve, A.Duncan ... the list goes on.  (She read geography, FFS.)  Oh, and M.Crick too.

That said, I've tended to think that she ticks boxes 1-7 above.  It's her people that are the problem.  By their acolytes shall ye know them, and hers don't give grounds for confidence.  I've never met Nick Timothy, so there's an element of speculation about this - but hey, this is a blog, not a newspaper of record.  I'd say he's neither really bright, nor someone who can be wholly trusted by May.  

Can't be trusted?  I say that not because of the recent cock-ups that are laid at his door (the profile in the link above says he's "capable of spotting, amid a mass of papers, problems which could turn out to be serious" - Oh yeah?).

It's because he seems to be using May to further his personal agenda.  And that is something the Person at the Top should not tolerate.  When you sign up as a hired brain, you check your own agenda in at the door.

BTW, Crick's got his number, too.

ND

29 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

Oh great list. And it is no use being a genius if you just push people away.

I seem to do OK without being especially intelligent or original. I do know how to to a tie, which helps I think.

I am furious about this suggestion that the original care idea was to have a floor and a cap (not a perfect policy, but at least explainable to the relevant people) but Timothy removed the cap from the manifesto. Maybe we should now call him Nice But Dim.

If the story is right, then he shredded May's credibility just when she needed to show she knew what she is about.

Blue Eyes said...

Clearly I cannot type, though.

Anonymous said...

Timothy is one of those dreadful people who is not quite as bright as he thinks he is, but makes up for it in shitiness.

He and Fiona make a nice pair if you're recruiting for the Waffen-SS, but for dear old Theresa, it's like going to a gunfight with your best two buddies armed with gelignite as their weapon of choice.

CityUnslicker said...

Well, I have met him and he comes over as thinking he is vey clever indeed. Given I am prone to this it is a characteristic that I find hard to criticise...

however, the real issue with May - in her bid to be an Anti-Cameron - is the tight knit circle. The best Government has a few big players, who come and go, not a tight circle of 3 or 4. This is to allow views to be aired.

May is learning, perhaps she will develop after the election.

E-K said...

I don't think I'm clever, but with the passing of so many talented and beautiful people of late (Moore, Prince, Hurt, Rickman...) I'm getting worried.

James Higham said...

"It's her people that are the problem."

Yes but Nick, it's those people who run her, not the other way about. She is far to subject to the deep state or Them or whatever you wish to call it. go down to Chatham House and ask what they'd like to be known as.

This is the issue - the one we elect [well all right, she was crowned undemocratically, admittedly] - they should be the ones who are running things.

Nick Drew said...

James - agreed: she must run them

By their acolytes shall ye know them

when John Moore (remember him?) was at the peak of his powers at the Court of St Maggie, Sec of State at the biggest-spending department of all, and earmarked by many as the Next Leader ...

... you could tell it wasn't true as soon as you met his SpAds - an obvious chancer, and a slip of a girl, both utterly useless

Bill Quango MP said...

Very prone to this since 1997.
Pasty tax being the most memorable. But there were many others. The 05p rise for pensioners under Brown. And the 10p tax rate scrappage debacle.

I suspect the decision to rule by media grid is behind much of the recent unforced calamities. And the chancellors playing biggest balls rabbit-hat games crashed on them once the media discovered how the trick was done.

This time around, I suspect a combination of media stories and semi-senior ego.

Even the most cursory of focus group testing would have shown the danger of the dementia tax being portrayed as such. And the terrible damage to an election campaign that would bring.

I can't believe Sir Lynton would have passed this off. He has a very, very astute grasp of winning elections.

"What should we say about funding social care?"
"Don't say anything at all. If it comes up, its a green/white/red/blue issue."
"Yes...but ..its a serious problem for the future..."
"Precisely why we don't mention it. Make sure you don't."

Anonymous said...

@EK - yeah, skipped a generation down to your lads!

I've never met the chap and he could be Einstein for all I know but politics ain't physics. Brains are good, to be sure, but it's like engineering; if you miss the initial stages or circumvent the processes - you could have the most awesome widget ever devised and it still ain't gonna work.

It may be youth, arrogance, power driven conceit - that all politics is roughly the same and all specialism is filtered to the top so they have an overview but whatever. This is a monumental wake-up call and needs to be fixed pronto for their own sake, let alone Blighty's!

DtP

Anonymous said...

Oh, and not wanting to sound like a twat - but taking 5 insulin injections per day is gonna create peaks and troughs, would have been a relatively closely guarded affair and would have probably given rise to her praetorian that were highly sensitive to ensure promotion.

She's reached the top now and the cat's out of the bag - it's time to lose the ego or the pretense of full health.

DtP

dearieme said...

Only a fucking fool uses bullet points and then asks us to count down to number seven. Mrs May apparently isn't alone in being rather thick.

Anonymous said...

She read geography, FFS

Is that like PPE?

Have to fully agree with this. She needs to go or have a really strong minder - someone that can not only take out bins but can take out PM's too,

Anonymous said...

A lot of very clever people can be damn stupid - IMHO Michael Gove is one. I remember he praised the Muslims of Balsall Heath, Birmingham for their successful campaign against local prostitution - which campaign was straight-up intimidation which the police were ****-scared of confronting (imagine how the Guardian/BBC axis would have reported such a campaign in a white area, every student feminist would have been demonstrating there), and the take-away lesson for the campaigners was about power and who ruled the streets.

Anonymous said...

Churchill - "The loyalties which center upon number one are enormous. If he trips, he must be sustained. If he make mistakes, they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good, he must be pole-axed."

However he goes on that you can't pole-axe someone who's only just got the job.

(As Home Secretary May was crap on immigration and crap on policing and prisons (reducing budgets a la Ken Clarke), yet she led a charmed media life - odd, that.)

Malcolm Stevas said...

Dead right about brightness. One of the brightest Tories is John Redwood, with whose blog posts I almost always agree, and I admire him for his consistency over many years as well as the straighforwardly rational, sensible, practical, conservative ideas he has always espoused. Naturally he's sidelined, especially under the social-democrat regime of Cameron, the archetypal oleaginous PPE/PR type with the attention span of a small insect.
The brightest Parliamentarian I can recall since I was old enough to vote was Enoch Powell, intellectually head & shoulders above the present bunch of 2nd-raters, an excellent MP and a great man. His memory is of course still excoriated, not least by the, er, "Conservative Party" I think it's called - though this might be a satirical label, Private Eye style.

Nick Drew said...

To be fair, Malcolm, Redwood can be very odd indeed. One day I shall recount the story of the (perfectly ordinary) comment I left on his blog, and how he dealt with it.

Steven_L said...

You see a lot of folk complaining JR doesn't publish their comments etc. He's never edited nor deleted one of mine.

There was a time in days gone by when not only was I about the only person who left comments on his blog, he actually used to reply in person to what seemed like half of them.

Anonymous said...

Malcolm - it wasn't so long since a prospective Tory candidate (in the Black Country IIRC - John Stokes' old seat?) was dropped for saying he thought Powell may have had a point.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel_Hastilow

Sounds a bit like Dominic Cummings, save that Cummings would import as many high-IQ people as we could fit in.

Blue Eyes said...

"asks us to count down to number seven"

Did you find that very taxing, dear?

Redwood blocked me from commenting on his blog. Can't remember the deets, but I didn't think it was warranted at the time. He is obsessive about certain things. Not a quality one looks for in a national leader.

Lots of very negative comments about May. However May shows that by pushing on, one can do quite well without necessarily being the best in one's field. What are the commenters' excuses?

Anonymous said...

ND must have high standards of intelligence - I didn't think Oxford took people with poor A levels unless they were either heirs to the throne or children of noted Marxist professors.

E-K said...

DtP You're not wrong. Laddo number 2 being awarded by Sophie Wessex this afternoon.

Y Ddraig Goch said...

Anonymous @ 6:09 pm

I think there has to be a third category - they let Polly Toynbee in as well.

Charlie said...

May was the perfect example of the Peter Principle as Home Sec. As PM, she's just a rather poor joke.

Charlie said...

...and that, in combination with the fact that my local Con candidate is a buffoon, is why she won't get my vote.


Which, as a natural Tory voter, means I think the polls are understating Corbyn.

Steven_L said...

Redwood blocked me from commenting on his blog.

Really? He doesn't even block that Lifelogic bore or newmania. He must really hate you. All the MPs seem to have have social media and twitter and all that now. I'd imagine they get their interns to look after them too.

But back when the first few started out a surprising number of them used to have banter with me. Which is a bit odd really, as I was 26 and permanently drunk back then so you'd have thought they would have better things to.

Steven_L said...

ND must have high standards of intelligence

He definitely strikes me as a pretty bright chap. But he was wrong about oil never going under $100 again.

And if you'd taken then piece he wrote about Glencore being the next Enron as a contrary indicator you'd have a 4 bagger in your ISA now.

E-K said...

I don't think politicians are thick. I just think most of them are wankers.

CityUnslicker said...

SL - re Glencore you are right!

AndrewZ said...

"Yes...but ..its a serious problem for the future..."
"Precisely why we don't mention it. Make sure you don't."


No doubt that is what usually happens, and that's the problem. Dealing with the big issues means taking difficult decisions that will inevitably be opposed by some sections of the electorate. So, the usual practice is to kick the can down the road for another few years and put off any hard choices until they become somebody else's problem. It's been happening with immigration and integration, energy, pensions, NHS reform and many other things.

Even the circumstances of Brexit are a result of years of can-kicking. The hard choice there was whether Britain should embrace the project of European integration and try to shape it for the better, or accept that EU reform was impossible and make serious plans to leave. Successive governments refused to make a clear choice either way, until one was suddenly forced upon them. As a result, the current government is struggling to implement a decision that it didn't want, didn't expect and was totally unprepared for.

Putting off necessary decisions always leads to even more difficult choices later on. The danger is that all these years of kicking every can down the road will result not merely in the usual government omnishambles but in an omnicrisis, in which everything begins to break down at once. Interesting times ahead.