by Chris Burn
You wake with three questions in your head – a head that is spinning like a three-legged washing machine – where am I, what happened last night, and how will I get through this present day? Lurking in the background is a deep-seated anxiety that at some point you made a fool of yourself.
Many alcoholics and junkies will be familiar with this scene and now presumably, quite a few of our politicians too. Theresa May, Nick Clegg, Alex Salmond to name some obvious ones.
Britain appears to be in the grip of a self-destructive syndrome that is becoming increasingly alarming. We seem to be becoming addicted to chaos. Does it reflect a yearning for the good old days when British idiocy placed us in and then pulled us out of disaster after disaster in foreign lands– Dunkirk, Suez, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan….? It’s as if we now want to try our own home-grown game of ‘chicken’. Blair, Brown and Cameron all displayed shockingly bad decision-making at times and Theresa May seems to have been determined not to be left out.
The Electorate is fed up with the situation and reacts with indiscriminate gestures of chastisement aimed at whoever is trying to run the country. But the squabbling recipients don’t seem to learn. It simply will not do. Change is needed. And fast.
Perhaps the metaphors of addiction could give us a clue or two…. sadly we can’t put all our politicians into moral Rehab but there are some therapies that they could administer to themselves. Every disaster contains the seeds of its own solution and something needs to be done about this one. What has happened has happened. It is what it is. The only question worth considering now is – what next?
After all, our very own British Cassandra, Prince Charles, once said: ‘There’s nothing like a jolly good disaster to get people to start doing something. ‘
In therapeutic terms, for change to happen, there are three requirements – honesty, openness and willingness to change. Probably very few of our parliamentarians could display all three of these. But without these vital attributes, disaster repeating itself becomes almost inevitable.
Take honesty for example – if a politician knowingly makes an untrue (or half-true) statement, they are at some level uncomfortable and need to justify this morally abnormal behaviour to themselves – the only way they can do so is to enter the realm of unreality by believing that fiction is fact. That way lies bad decision making. Such as gambling on a snap election with inadequate preparation.
How does a politician become honest? Well – in a Rehab, the most powerful tool available is the therapy group where participants work towards common goals by telling each other honestly how they see each other. Could the Mother of Parliaments pull itself together sufficiently to serve as the mother of all therapy groups, or is that too fanciful? Sadly, I think I know the answer to that.
So what can we do?
Desperate times call for desperate measures. In the words of Sherlock Holmes, ‘If you’ve eliminated all other possibilities whatever remains must be the truth’. Brexit, terrorism and the economy are the main issues for the country. Together they represent a threat equal to Hitler’s Germany in 1939. Then, Britain faced it with an honest coalition of good hearted men drawn from all the main parties. They had differing political beliefs but were prepared to unite to ensure the safety of the country. To do so was a necessary and a grown-up decision. And it worked. We should do the same again.