This is a coun­try that suc­ceeds in the face of chaos

The Sunday Telegraph - - Sunday Comment - DIA CHAKRAVARTY READ MORE

The uni­verse has a strange knack of grant­ing our wishes in a way which leaves us won­der­ing if we really did want what we asked for.

Re­mem­ber when our lead­ers were masters of spin? When sleek and savvy “com­mu­ni­ca­tion di­rec­tors” would care­fully stage­m­an­age me­dia ap­pear­ances, when Cab­i­net spats were glossed over, when nine out of 10 crises were swiftly dealt with, and when politi­cians – granted, all look­ing very sim­i­lar and from very sim­i­lar back­grounds – pro­vided at least a ve­neer of ev­ery­thing go­ing ac­cord­ing to plan? When our lead­ers ac­tu­ally had a plan?

But we weren’t hav­ing any of that. We felt that we needed our politi­cians to be real peo­ple, and we wanted to see their hu­man side, warts and all, in­stead of the man­i­cured Step­ford per­sonas pre­sented to us by their min­ders.

Well, we’ve had our wish granted. Ab­so­lutely noth­ing ap­pears to be stage­m­an­aged or even man­aged these days, and those lead­ing us are cer­tainly a dis­parate bunch. But we seem to have ended up in more of a Mon­key’s Paw­style hor­ror story than an Aladdin-es­que fairy­tale.

Of course the Gov­ern­ment doesn’t need spin to suc­ceed and the pub­lic were right to re­ject it. What it does need is a vi­sion for the fu­ture that is com­mu­ni­cated in a way which in­spires peo­ple. That is what lends an ad­min­is­tra­tion au­thor­ity

– so lack­ing at the mo­ment – and one earned rather than fab­ri­cated through smoke-and-mir­rors pol­i­tics.

The strange thing is that if one looks be­hind the chaos in West­min­ster, many key fundamentals show a coun­try that is suc­ceed­ing, go­ing about its daily busi­ness with a drive and vi­sion of its own. In­dus­trial pro­duc­tion is en­joy­ing its long­est growth streak in 23 years, and the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Eco­nomic and So­cial Re­search says over­all GDP growth in the three months to Oc­to­ber will be faster than in any other quar­ter this year. With the high­est lev­els of em­ploy­ment in 42 years, our unem­ploy­ment rate is just un­der half the Eu­ro­zone av­er­age. Even the most ar­dent pes­simist must take heart from these sta­tis­tics at a time when ev­ery day seems to usher in a new scan­dal or cri­sis, mak­ing an al­ready shaky Gov­ern­ment a lit­tle bit more un­steady.

The trou­ble is, even while the coun­try puts in an en­cour­ag­ing per­for­mance against a back­drop of po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty, Theresa May’s ap­par­ent lack of au­thor­ity makes it im­pos­si­ble for her to re­act to events in a way she or the Gov­ern­ment might want.

Whether in ac­cept­ing the EU’s ab­surd se­quenc­ing de­mand in Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions over the sum­mer or in the han­dling of the me­dia cir­cus that en­gulfed the de­par­ture of Priti Pa­tel from the Cab­i­net, given her tech­no­cratic na­ture Mrs May seems to fail to grasp that the process in which she is so prone to seek com­fort is the very thing pre­vent­ing her from tak­ing con­trol of events, by out­lin­ing her vi­sion and lead­ing the na­tion to­wards it. She has be­come a pris­oner of that process.

It is a tes­ta­ment to the in­her­ent sta­bil­ity of our coun­try that, de­spite the po­lit­i­cal chaos, there is much to be en­cour­aged about if one looks be­yond the head­lines. If the Prime Min­is­ter can­not in­spire the na­tion, per­haps the na­tion can in­spire her to find her vi­sion. FOL­LOW Di­aChakravarty on Twit­ter @Di­aChakravarty;

at tele­­ion

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