Posted tagged ‘risk’

What If Gordon Brown Is Telling The Truth?

May 15, 2008

Listening to John Humphrys interviewing Gordon Brown on Radio’s 4 Today programme this morning, I was reminded why I don’t like Brown’s style of Government and management.

Let’s start with one simple assumption. That he’s not being a typical politician. That what he is saying is true. The presumptions and predictions from the economy to public and private life in the UK and abroad are generally promising and uplifting.

But I don’t want that in a leader – not in a group, a business, or running the country. I believe that if you are in charge of anything, the most frequent question you should be asking yourself if “what if this is wrong? And if so, what will I be able to do?” There should be multiple ways forward at every point in the decision making process. Given the choice between a plan that has 100% good effects, but has absolutely no flexibility if conditions deviate from the expected, or a plan that has (say) 60% good effects if everything works as expected but can accommodate changing conditions to reduce any negative effects when it (inevitably) goes tits up, I want someone who chooses the later option.

Listening to Brown (and the members of his Cabinet) I hear zero evidence that they actually plan for the bad things to happen. The 10p income tax band doubling situation is evidence of that. Again, taking the Chancellor at his word, there was absolutely zero slack in the Budget to allow any adjustments to be made without ringing up 2.7 billion pounds of debt. More to the point, if the call on the 10p tax was really triggered by the changing international economic conditions, then the Chancellor is not even taking a short term view of ten weeks of what could go wrong and to make provisions in case of things not working out perfectly.

And the reserve cash before we hit the self imposed rule is only £100 million… which isn’t a reserve at all; it’s a single chip to tip the croupier after your gamble in Las Vegas fails. Remember I’m going on the assumption that we’re not being lied to; pop in the money in Northern Rock and the PFI’s and we’d be well over the 40% ‘maximum.’

I want a Government that believes in policies that have less reward, but that also carry less risk. There’s no replay option in real life. I want to know you’ve considered and planned for the worst case scenarios, and not just crossing your fingers that the best predictions are going to come true. I don’t get that vibe from the words or the actions of Gordon Brown and his government.

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