A big wobbly strop – 23 February 2010

So, all over the British news is the unstartling revelation that the Prime Minister is prone to the occasional big-wobbly-strop. This is not exactly news. Someone in the MoD told me years ago that it was pointless trying to tell the Prime Minister something he didn’t like. The big-wobbly-strop would immediately come flying out the pram, and it was best to don the hard-hat and the spittle protective glasses.

I was quite amused to hear Labour commentators on the radio yesterday saying ‘we’re all prone to this kind of strop’… are we? I’m not prone to this kind of strop. Not even in my own home. If it’s official government policy, though, I might give it a go. I’ll have the wobbly bit down to a tee…

Anyhow, why bring this to the KoW forum. Well, whilst upsetting the typing pool is regrettable (although in my experience in a former employment the use of that term was enough to get a particular senior administrator frothy…) it doesn’t really upset the strategic balance. However, the implied charge that the PM throws big-wobbly-strops when he hears something he doesn’t like and that deters officials from bringing things to him, or according to the former Labour GS they adopt strategies to avoid and manage him, then that is a serious matter when it comes to war fighting and countering terrorism.

Effective strategic leadership is about responding to difficult circumstances, seeing opportunity in adversity, and making decisions with as cool a head as possible. The big-wobbly-strop is something my kids deploy because they know no different. The big-wobbly-strop has no real place in a place of work (point one) because it’s unprofessional, and you might think you’re God, but no-one elected you (by the way) and two, the big-wobbly-strop is frankly dangerous if it leads to a military or security lapse because no-one wants to tell the Emperor that the policy has no clothes.

There’s something clearly about Downing Street… good people go in, and after not very long the disconnect from decent policy circles, and dare I say ‘the electorate’ (who they?) turns people into hubristic monsters. It happened to Maggie, it didn’t really happen to Major, but it definitely happened to Tony and it seems to have happened to Gordon in a big way. But if it’s all the same to those blahing on, on the radio, can we have our effective leadership back please? And can we leave the big-wobbly-strop to the two year old wondering where her mittens have gone?


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