Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Harold Wilson and other thoughts

Recently I have been writing to an old school friend in the U.K. We haven't talked in twenty years and so there is a lot of catching up. He has moved to an area of Cornwall I used to live in, virtually the same village. There are people around the area that I remember well, and some that have moved on or died. One of those is a guy I will call Bobby.

Bobby was as Cornish as they come, he could fish and build houses. His other talent was to tell long stories to anyone who would listen. I used to see him as I walked down to the fishing cove just below our village. One day he told me a story about Harold Wilson, who at the time was the Prime minister of England. Wilson had had a difficult time in office. Things like Rhodesia and Miners etc. He used to like coming down to Cornwall for his holidays and stayed on the Isles of Scilly which you can get to from Penzance not far from where I lived.

One day Bobby was talking to one of Harold Wilsons aides a top civil servant with the ear of the Prime minister. So Bobby asked the aid how things were going. "

Was the Prime minister on top of everything, coping, so to speak. "

The aid answered by saying,


"And why is that". asked Bobby.

"We are never on top of things in Government". said the aid

"What do you mean." said Bobby.

"Lets put it like this," said the aid.

"In government you react you don't act."

There was a pause, and then he went on to describe how it was like putting fires out all the time.

"You never have time to make things happen they happen around you and then you react and try and put the fires out and settle the troops."

He gave the impression that being in government was a game of chance and if you were lucky you got out ok and if not you left office covered in shite.

Not a lot has changed. Here in Victoria we have a premier called Steve Bracks and he is waiting for rain. He is praying for the stuff to drop from the sky [big time] cause if it doesn't, he will have trouble facing his electorate. He will appear to have done nothing to solve the problem [to react to the situation] Maybe there already too many things he is having to react to.

And here in Australia we have a Prime minister who goes by the name of John Howard. He used to be a failed treasurer many years ago. He is a politician they call 'Lazarus with a treble by pass.' He too wishes that he had taken retirement when he turned 65 years old. He could be enjoying retirement but instead by the time he goes [next election] this year, he will have gone from longest serving Prime minister to possibly one of only two Prime Ministers who lost their seat in parliament while serving as Prime minister.

So some of it is luck some of their own making, but don't ever think those in high office have time to get on top of the job. They just don't.


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