What Philip Hammond meant to say was a fairly reasonable comment. Economies are more organic than mechanical. They adapt to change. If, over the ages, technological innovation had impacted in the mechanistic way commonly predicted, there would be no employed people. It’s quite sensible to note that economies do not function in simplistic ways.
The manner in which Hammond expressed himself. however, is yet further evidence of the amateurishness and ineptitude of the current British political elite. It is another small indication of how the British political system facilitates the elevation of individuals to roles which are far beyond their capacities. A defective system must produce deficient government.
We could discuss at length the particulars of the flaws which render the British political system unfit for purpose. We could talk about cliques and networks and entrenched cultures such as that in which talent at lower levels of the organisational hierarchy is viewed as a threat by those at the higher levels and suppressed accordingly. We could discuss how organisations, such as political parties, tend to evolve to serve their own existence and internal interests rather than the purpose for which they were formed, unless they are effectively managed so as to prevent this. We might reflect on how the individuals at the top tend to exist in a bubble of disinformation as those around them are pressured into offering reassurances and congratulations where warnings and corrections are required.
We could talk about all of the things which lead to gaffes such as Hammond’s. Or we could decide to do better. Sometimes, an organisation or a system is just so corrupt and dysfunctional that the effort to reform and retrieve it is more costly than simply starting afresh. Sometimes, you have to break a system in order to break free of its damaging effects.
So it is with the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. The political system which produces foolish, if relatively minor, clumsiness such as Hammond’s also gives us Brexit, austerity fetishism and the Iraq war. Scotland cannot continue to be associated with such a system. It is time to bring our government home.
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