Thursday, November 16, 2006

Persuasion

Brian Appleyard seems to object to the one of the only things that I like about Tony Blair -namely that he believes that he can persuade people to come alongside him in almost any debate.

Of course, there are bits that are irksome. In the first few years of his premiership, his office believed that people were persuaded by the image of him speaking to an appreciative audience of clones in suits and pinkish twinsets. This was a mistake.

His decision that God will be his judge on Iraq, is another example of how this conviction can be a bit annoying.

But if you substitute 'history' for God, I'd be happy with it as a statement. Indeed, wouldn't it be nice if a few more politicans had the guts to say something like that.

Rampant self-belief is never a particularly attractive characteristic. But objecting to it in a political leader is, surely, absurd? It is better than the standard charge that was levelled at him before 2003 - that he simply followed the dictates of focus groups and his private polling.

Blair appears to occasionally stand on his principles these days. I suspect that a lot of the real objection to this is based upon a disagreement with those principles.

To my mind, the real problem lies elsewhere. It is that Blair is complicit in the maintenance of a political ecology in which there is only one persuader. One in which elected politicians are a very diminshed force, and one in which their rivals (pressure groups, the media, bureaucrats etc) are in the ascendency.

If every MP and local Councillor believed that it was possible to test themselves in front of the public in the way that Blair does, the country would surely be a better place?

It may also be a country that was run by the people that are elected to do so. And that would be a change for the better.

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