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Rainieri and the Blairites

By the time you next visit your local airport there’s likely to be, on the revolving book display aimed at future masters of the universe (or desperate sales reps who fear the worst)  a book explaining, in fluent management consultant speak, how to make your fortune by managing like Claudio Rainieri.

Sports coaches are always popular sources for the curious mix of psychobabble and motivational miasma that makes up a good airport business book. Two of the basic books for any business coach are by sports coaches- Timothy Gallwey and John Whitmore, and the most fashionable such book of recent years was by Steve Peters,who is less well known for being  a forensic psychiatrist and academic than for his association with the British cycling team and Team Sky.

The odds are good that the Rainieri method will be the subject of a book by some chancer, sorry, management guru* wishing to make a quick buck, sorry, to spread enlightenment and success.

So, a book about the Rainieri method is almost inevitable. Once the dust has settled, doubtless therewill also be those of sober opinionwho will point out the huge set of contingent events that made Leicester’s success possible; management upheavals at Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, inertia and the nagging friction of needing to service debt at Manchester United, managerial inexperience at Tottenham…

And the Blairites?

Over the weekend social media has been taken up in part by a coterie of Blairites posting about their memories of Blair’svictory in 1997, 19 years ago. The subtext, about winning being better than losing, about Blair’s ‘unique’ talent for winning over Middle England, is appealingly superficial. It also requires a complete absence of sober reflection on the reality, that Blair’s job in 1997 was no to lose an election in which, according to Bob Worcester, a balloon on a stick could have won for Labour. Blair’s triumph was in not dropping the ball while all around him other political parties foundered. The Tories imploded, the nationalists were not ready and the LibDems were not willing to face the consequences of either government or their own recovery from the shambolic years of the SDP Liberal love-in. Like Rainieri’s Leicester, all Blair’s Labour had too was keep plodding forward while all their rivals self destructed around them.

Alistair Campbell is fond of reminding politicians not to mistake media opinion for public opinion.  So are we. Labour politicians need reminding that elections are won not in the stairwells of Westminster by grandstanding MPs having shouting matches but on the streets of Grimsby and in the housing estates of Nuneaton.

I’ll venture even further. As a democratic socialist, as someone who has fought forequality all my adult life, and as a queer, I know that the rights I enjoy now were won not because the British electorate embraced complex, intersectional versions of liberalism, but because they embraced politicians who addressed their economic and social concerns who happened also to be liberals. That may have huge implications about compromise and coalition building, but that’s the reality of British politics. It’s also the reality of the popularity of UKIP; many people who vote for UKIP would never do anything racist, but they accept UKIP’s racism and bizarre approach to politics in return for UKIP talking about issues that matter to them; housing, jobs and communities.

Labour needs to take care that it does not lose Corbyn’s apparent connection to the concerns of many who feel uncared for in its concern to silence the media clamour about anti-semitism. Labour needs to take care, too, to make clear that whatever the problem with the ways some criticisms of Israel are expressed, it will not set aside its concern for universal human rights to seek favour in the salons and stairwells of London. Labour’s distinctive approach should be expressed by a foreign policy statement that sets out the sorts of regimes Labour will not do business with – and if that means both Israel and Saudi Arabia are unacceptable, then at least it will be a balanced and fair policy, the way we would want our neighbours to judge us and vice versa.



*It was Deming, I think, who said that we call them gurus because charlatan has too many letters.


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This entry was posted on May 3, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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