The 1970s are back in fashion again – at least from the TV schedules’ point of view. It is fascinating watching and reading ‘history’ that I can, just about, dimly remember bits of. No doubt, Dominic Sandbrook’s Seasons in the Sun will make it on to my colleague Keith Simpson’s summer reading list he issues to colleagues, but for once I hope I have earned a few brownie points by reading it a little early. And frightening reading it is too – the extent of the industrial chaos, squeeze on living standards and political inability to cope make my hair stand on end.
So given the ‘headless chickens’ within the Party are on the run again and all because we have not had the most perfect few weeks imaginable, and we have had a setback at the real polls also, I am left wondering how we would have coped during the Three Day Week? Of course, this isn’t to dismiss what has occurred. Far from it, there are ‘lessons to be learned’ amidst 1001 other clichés. But we don’t just need ‘answers’, we need to make sure we ask the right questions as to what has happened, and why, and what can be done to improve it.
So I don’t find it helpful when colleagues rush to Twitter, TV or whatever, within seconds of polls closing, to offer an opinion or a one-word solution. Far better, in my view, to observe, listen and analyse. We have plenty of statements, not enough suggestions about what to do next. And whilst I don’t agree with the prescription that we should just ‘lurch/move/turn to the right’ <employ verb according to simplistic label>, at least it can be the start of a discussion. For example, it’s no use diagnosing a Northern problem without actually coming up with a solution (and I could write a whole article just on my answer to that question).