Events, Dear Boy, Events

Published: Dec 09 , 2011
Author: Alan Smith

In the late 1950s, a journalist asked incumbent British prime minister Harold Macmillan what he considered was most likely to blow his government off course. In an answer that has gone down in history - perhaps as much for its Edwardian construction as its content - Macmillan replied, "Events, dear boy, events." This response hits at a fundamental truth. Things do change rapidly, and when one is least expecting them to do so.

George Osborne in his address to the House of Commons in London last week, must be keeping very close eye on the weather vane as the problems in the European Union and the debt storm that rages around his ears threaten to put his Governments long term plans at severe risk.

It seemed that the plan was very much to spend the first years of the new Liberal Conservative administration in austerity mode, cutting spending dramatically, reducing debt and getting the pain in early. This would lead to a reversal in bad fortune (hopefully) creating the opportunity for a feel good budget in 2014 prior to the planned general election in 2015 and a landslide win for the Conservatives or Lib Dems (or a combination of the above).

Trouble is things do not appear to have gone that way.

There appears to be a supreme lack of confidence in consumer spending. In turn this has caused a reluctance to invest by UK companies exacerbated by the poor performance of exports due to the crisis in Europe. The cuts in spending further reducing demand may be necessary, but may be throwing water on a fire that is already going out.

I am not suggesting that borrowing more to get out of debt is any cleverer. Anyone with a Barclaycard who borrows from her MasterCard to make the payments can see the flaw in that.

What I am saying is that the government, like all good negotiators, should have alternative strategies for achieving their core objectives.

Having a flexible strategy is a key tenet to developing negotiation skills. Plan D just might be more palatable. 

Alan Smith




Alan Smith

About the author:

Alan Smith
My background is marketing and advertising. After graduating in Economics I entered the agency world to become, at 28, MD of London's largest independent below-the-line marketing provider.

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“When it comes to the qualifications we demand of our president, to start with, we need someone who will take the job seriously.” Michelle Obama. Don’t stop reading - this blog is not about Donald Trump. In the run up to the election of a new Labour Party Leader 4 years ago, the four candidates were invited by LBC radio to quiz each other. You can see the questions to Jeremy Corbyn here. There are two points of note. Firstly, when asked if he wants to be Prime Minister he ducks the question several times, instead referring to the ideological changes he wants to make within the Labour Party. Secondly when asked about his qualifications and experience to be leader of a major political party his answer is objectively underwhelming – before being an MP, he says, he had been a local councillor for 10 years. I don’t think it is difficult to relate those answers in 2015 to the current divided state of the Labour Party.

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