Category Archives: public relations

A service economy without the service

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

Whenever Dalrymple is in Amsterdam, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all Dutch.

Whenever he is in London, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all foreign.

This is just as well, writes Dalrymple,

for if they were English the hotel would not be well-run for long. When the English try to run an hotel, they combine pomposity with slovenliness.

Perhaps this would not be so serious a matter

if the British economy were not a so-called service economy. It has been such since Margaret Thatcher solved Britain’s chronic industrial relations problem by the expedient of getting rid of industry. This worked, and perhaps was inevitable, but it was necessary for Britain to find some other way of making its way in the world. This it has not done.

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

In Britain, Dalrymple points out,

incapacity is everywhere.

Incompetence starts at the top. The prime minister, David Cameron, is

a careerist and opportunist in the mould of Tony Blair. Not only was Mr. Cameron’s only pre-political job in public relations, hardly a school for intellectual and moral probity, but he has subscribed to every fashionable policy nostrum from environmentalism to profligate government expenditure. Not truth, but the latest poll, guides him.

Cameron has been

truly representative as prime minister. Like his country, he is without substance.

Every ad agency’s dream

With Gerry Adams at the Bobby Sands and James Connolly commemorationSome observations on the next prime minister of Great Britain

Jeremy Corbyn, writes Dalrymple, has throughout his years in the House of Commons

voted for his beliefs, not for his career,

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.34.30refusing to join

the majority of the MPs at the trough of expenses.

While Tony Blair, for instance, is a public egalitarian in search of a private fortune, Corbyn is no hypocrite. He

lives his ideals. He is a man of grinding and unnerving integrity, a man of such probity that he would let the heavens fall so long as his version of social justice was done.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.40.08There is, says Dalrymple,

not a bien pensant cause in sight to which Corbyn does not wholeheartedly subscribe with the uncritical belief of an apostle, and for which he would be unprepared to go to the stake.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.28.50A point in his favour is that he does not appear to be

a man of erudition, culture or literary talent.

Another plus is

his evident authenticity by comparison with other politicians, most of whom are as synthetic as the toys that used to be put in cereal packets.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.39.09This dour monomaniac dresses

like a social worker from the 1970s, but at least it is from his own choice, not that of a public relations firm. He is genuine. He is not the product of an advertising agency, and by self-evidently not being such a product he is an advertising agency’s dream.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.49.21Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.47.52Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.46.24 Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.48.16

Payment of my mortgage requires my silence

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 08.11.26Integrity, writes Dalrymple,

is a fragile thing, and most people have only a limited reserve of it. They are usually more concerned for their private welfare than the public good. (I mean this as no criticism. It seems to me to be an ineluctable fact about being human.) So when intellectual, moral and financial corruption grows, they will not resist it to the bitter end. Rather they will join in – most with a heavy heart, some joyfully — and keep their traps shut.

But

the knowledge that they have sold their souls means that they live the rest of their lives in fear and self-loathing.

And the deep-seated cynicism

is inimical to real work and progress. Ersatz work comes to replace work: the production of signs, for example, saying ‘Allow us to help you’ when there is no intention of helping anyone. The cynicism corrodes the public servant and the public alike: everyone treats everything as a source of plunder and personal advancement.

Take the police. They are

adept at producing pleasing figures. They are very good at changing the category of crime into which a reported incident falls. Just as universities have an interest in inflating marks, thanks to government targets, so the police have an interest in deflating the seriousness of the crimes reported to them.

The job of chief constable, for instance,

is not that of a policeman any longer, but that of public relations officer and political toady. This is not because they are by nature wicked men, but because of the nature of modern administration, in which reality is less real, or at least less important, than the presentation of reality.

Backbone of a mollusc and morals of a jackal

His face is so moistly smooth and characterless that it looks as though it would disappear leaving a trail of slime if caught in the rain

His face is so moistly smooth and characterless that it looks as though it would disappear leaving a trail of slime if caught in the rain

Cameron is not the man for the job

In the Greece of the North Sea, writes Dalrymple,

several things need to be done, among them the reform and even dismantlement of the educational and social-security systems, the liberalisation of the labour laws, and the much firmer repression of crime. David Cameron is not the man for the job.

Cameron, says Dalrymple,

is Focus Group Man made flesh. This is not altogether surprising since his only known employment, other than politician, was in public relations. He appears not to know what to think until he has consulted a variety of gauges of public opinion, and then he announces his own opinion as if from deep conviction.

Blancmange-like, he

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 07.24.15

Moulds himself to any shape going

moulds himself to any shape going.

Raised on public relations,

Cameron cannot think back further than yesterday’s focus group or ahead further than tomorrow’s opinion poll. Strategy is alien to him.

He made a commitment to further Scottish devolution,

thus conjuring constitutional problems from thin air. He was panicked into doing so by a single Gallup poll, whose authors must be very proud that a single poll of theirs affected a significant power so profoundly.

This was a typically Cameronian act of foolishness and incompetence. Moreover, the promise

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 07.25.38

Acted like a tin-pot dictator

was not Cameron’s to make: he acted more like a tin-pot dictator proposing a change to the constitution to allow himself a seventh term than a democratic politician.

Then came his pledge to protect the funding of the NHS,

because he knows through focus groups, opinion polls, etc., that the British people worship the NHS as the Israelites once worshipped the golden calf.

Cameron

cannot see a bad idea without embracing it with what he imagines is vote-getting fervour.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 07.27.10Nothing for Cameron

is a matter of principle, only of advantage, and short-term advantage at that, his sole discernible goal being that of maintaining himself in power.

What of his physiognomy?

His face is so moistly smooth and characterless that it looks as though it would disappear leaving a trail of slime if caught in the rain.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 07.35.41

Backbone

Morals

Morals

No escape from the squalor of politics

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 07.55.29Britain’s prime minister, writes Dalrymple,

is Focus Group Man made flesh. This is not altogether surprising since his only known employment, other than politician, was in public relations. He appears not to know what to think until he has consulted a variety of gauges of public opinion, and then he announces his own opinion as if from deep conviction.

Dalrymple supposes that it is

naïve to want politicians to believe in something and to say what they mean. When you come to think of it, those who have done so have probably done more damage than the equivocators.