Saturday, April 19, 2014

David Cameron and the Maria Miller scandal: Cameron's personality flaws exposed again.

The resignation of Culture Secretary, Maria Miller after a week of political theatre, has exposed the flaws of David Cameron's personality once more.

I wrote an article last year summarising the many flaws evident in Cameron's personality and manner of governing. Again, similar traits have been on show for the past week, culminating in Miller's resignation. An article (here) explains some of the key points that stand out about Cameron's handling of the whole matter. It was Osborne that pushed for Miller to be sacked; Cameron simply caved in, after refusing to budge on the whole issue, seemingly out of a combination of pride and a poor sense of priorities.

A "wannabe" Vladimir Putin?

First and foremost, Cameron's handling of Miller's wrongdoing displays his tendency to prefer loyalty in his staff over competence. The common perception is that Miller was so staunchly supported by Cameron because she was one of the few token women in his cabinet, as well as one of his "loyalists" who supported the "Cameroon" project (such as his stances on social issues). The fact that Cameron rules his cabinet like a closed cabal of medieval courtiers lends unhelpful comparisons to the way that Vladimir Putin rules Russia and the Kremlin in a similar way. In such a dysfunctional polity, loyalty and connections rules over competence and morality.

It's not often that you can compare David Cameron and Vladimir Putin in the same sentence; the exception in Cameron's case is that although he tries to rule his cabinet and party like a medieval despot, he can't even do that competently. Cameron's staff the other day tersely reminded the political sphere that it was the Prime Minister that appointed and dismissed ministers, and not MPs. The minister was then forced to quit anyway. So, Cameron's circle of aides then look like ineffective bullies and tyrants; not a good combination. Cameron's style of governing is like Putin, minus the cunning and competence.

Fraser Nelson, editor of the "Spectator", explained in a conversation with "The Guardian" why Cameron's personality flaws may well be a factor in preventing the Conservatives from staying in power beyond next year. I made some similar points a few months ago, such as Cameron's poor managerial skills over his party, as well the lack of trust that much of the public have with the Conservatives as a brand (apart from appearing economically-competent, regardless of the reality).
As Nelson said, Cameron appears to have two modes: complacency and panic. This analysis gives credit my the analysis I made last year about Cameron's personality. His approach to government veers between beaming self-confidence (that then turns into mocking arrogance over his opponents), leading to a cock-up and crisis of his own creation (which he then seems to thrive on).

A Third World government

But such behaviour is comparable to a medieval despot or (more contemporaneously) a leader of a corrupt, Third World country. The sad truth is that, in many ways, Britain is run like a Third World country.

The leader of the country chooses his ministers according to how well he knows them; if they are long-term friends, this makes them all the more trustworthy. Errors, cock-ups and even casual corruption are ignored or excused when they are in the "circle" of the Prime Minister. The government's economic plan is based on an intellectually-bankrupt model: property inflation, financial mismanagment and speculation, selling off national assets to foreign companies, reducing the rights of employees in order to create more "jobs" - it's the same broken economic model that Blair and Brown had before, but with less money spent on welfare, and a degradation of economic lifestyle of the average Briton.

The Palace of Westminster may be a venerated institution, but it is now truly showing its age. The culture within Westminster has been shown to compare poorly to that of a corporation, for example. But this is what happens when many of the MPs come from the same, privately-educated background, especially those in the Conservatives.

Cameron is simply a product of this closed and stagnant political culture. It's no wonder that people are looking to UKIP as the only alternative to a stale political orthodoxy in Westminster; Nigel Farage looks like the only politician who has charisma as well as sounding like a normal person.

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