Snakes and ladders

Kevin McKenna’s merciless excoriation of Kezia Dugdale in today’s National is well worth reading. His ire has been provoked by the revelation that Kezia Dugdale – one of the people best placed to rival Chris Grayling in the area of brass-necked ineptitude and unabashed self-aggrandisement – is to join what Mr McKenna calls the “travelling troupe of political opportunists who feed off our ever-increasing political sector”.

It’s a familiar story: an individual with vaunting delusions of competence, a sense of entitlement massive enough to sink the Isle of Arran and a cold, dark void where their self-awareness should be, manages, by the arcane processes of party patronage, to achieve some high office, Said individual almost immediately discovers the limits of their meagre capacities and proceeds to screw up in ways which are manifold and often quite inventive.

Eventually, either one particularly unfortunate cock-up or the aggregate of a proliferation of lesser ones, renders the situation untenable and obliges the individual to remove themselves from high office – or be removed.

By virtue of their undeserved elevation and the process by which it was facilitated, the individual is now part of the British political elite. (The term ‘elite’ having a special meaning in this context.) One of the defining characteristics of the British political elite is impunity. So, unless they are irrefutably guilty of an offence so heinous as to rule out a sideways move and make rehabilitation, at least in the short term, a bit of a challenge – running down old ladies with the SUV for sport; barbecuing babies (and serving them with the wrong wine!); cheating at croquet… that sort of thing – our individual cannot be seen to be suffering the consequences of their inadequacy.

Rather than being consigned to obscurity, the individual is ‘head-hunted’ by one of the think-tanks, consultancies or agencies which make up that “travelling troupe of political opportunists” mentioned by Kevin McKenna. Alternatively, and if the individual in question is sufficiently ‘high-profile’, they might launch their own consultancy… or whatever. The only requirements – aside from that all-important public recognition factor – are a modest but well-appointed office in the right location; a slick website laden with glittering generalities but so devoid of actual information that you actually feel it sucking the enlightenment out of you with every mouse click; and a handful of inexplicably generous ‘clients’ channelling monthly ‘retainers’ through the Murky Money Corporation of the British Virgin Islands.

It should be noted that this is seldom, if ever, a serious career move. It’s a stopgap. The purpose of the private-sector role into which the individual is parachuted is, not to provide long-term employment, but to be the base-camp for another attempt to scale the heights of the British ruling elite. Sooner or later, those practised in the manipulation of public perceptions will manage to waft away the stench of whatever shit-storm necessitated the temporary departure from high office sufficiently to allow a sleekit insinuation back into the public sphere. An appointment to a Royal Commission, perhaps. Or a sinecure with some quango. Maybe a seat on the Board of Governors of the BBC.

Like I said, a depressingly familiar story. The British political system is like a game of snakes and ladders where all the ladders are equipped with stair-lifts and all the snakes’ tails take the player to a point high on another ladder.


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3 thoughts on “Snakes and ladders

  1. Never have I witnessed such a talentless non entity of a person, making so much money out of doing absolutely nothing. She has nothing to say of any merit or value. Why she even exists in politics says so much about what society has become.

    A career entirely constructed out of hollow straws!

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  2. On the face of it the Dugdale *career* trajectory is a challenge to the Peter Principle. The reality is more prosaic. The roots of patronage in the United Kingdom nourish legions of self serving incompetents in a mutual support structure. They are owned by the state and a major barrier to self determination.

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