Sunday, April 03, 2016


David Runciman in the review Delivorlogy of book on Blair:
"Deliverology is itself a false prospectus. It relies on the assumption that Blair gradually mastered these skills on the job and that he was forced out just when he had got on top of the government machine. Certainly that’s what he says in his memoirs, where he insists that he only worked out how to exercise power effectively towards the end of his time in office. Now he wants to help others start out with the wisdom he had to acquire through ‘bitter experience’. But political leaders always say this: that governing starts to make sense when time is running out. That’s why it’s so hard to persuade them to move on. Obama told Marc Maron earlier this year that he was finally getting the hang of it seven years in, just when he has one foot out of the door. For democratic leaders this is the tragedy of power: they only learn how to do their jobs once the public is sick of the sight of them, or the constitution is telling them they have reached their limit. But it’s an illusion: it just seems easier because the end is in sight and they have stopped worrying about what might come next. Blair felt he was really getting things done at the point when his struggle with Gordon Brown was over. But it wasn’t because he had worked out how to deal with an obstructive rival; it was because he had ultimately been defeated by him. He was liberated by having little left to lose. Obama has been increasingly willing to assert his executive authority because he no longer feels it’s worth trying to deal with Congress. Yet if his successor starts with that attitude he (or she) will be pilloried, just as any prime minister who caves before his chancellor from the outset won’t be in charge for long. Delivery depends much more on context than it does on technique. In that respect, it’s not a transferable skill."

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