I agree with every word that he's written here. I'd go further. It is a terrifically banal article. It says nothing that I would normally think controversial or even particularly interesting. But since I've started saying similar banal things rather a lot, I've been quite surprised to find that only a small proportion of those who choose to comment on the government of this country actually agree with this article.
Here's a sample:
"Brown’s inscrutability is a matter of choice. Although he is determined that his premiership will be very different from Blair’s, he is equally determined not to show his hand too clearly. Indeed, his more recent tactic has been to suggest that he agrees with the present prime minister on everything (replacing Trident, for example) on the grounds that the more Blair can be convinced that Brown is his clone, the sooner he will leave Number 10.
What has been less noticed, however, is that the same choice — inscrutability over transparency — has been made by practically every would-be prime minister before he got the job."
"the capacity of prime ministers to shape events is limited. They are leaders of a medium-sized power in a world dominated by globalisation and big international companies. They are blown about by forces outwith their control; in particular today a press that is powerful, ignorant and vicious. They have their party to consider as well as their country.
And anyway, beyond all this, they are largely the creature of the electorate, who have either voted them in or will get the chance to vote them out."
The interesting question, to me, is this: Is Lipsey's article really an accurate reflection of how government works? And if it is, is it a satisfactory state of affairs that we - as a society - are increasingly prepared to allow people think / pretend to think otherwise to shape public debate in the way that they do?
And do the political class / chattering class have a role to play in providing a counterweight to the idiotic generalists that make up the paid commentariat? Or should they just sit on the sidelines, gloating about it, blaming everyone else, and flicking random V-signs instead?
It's a tough one, innit?