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Saturday, 7 April 2012

Prattling Politicians and Pasty Palava? Please…

There was a time when sensational headlines were the arena of the rich and bizarre – playboys spending millions on yachts and then sinking them, nutty pop-stars turning up to awards ceremonies wearing half the meat counter from the local shop – but these days they have serious competition. 

The political fallout post-budget was phenomenal - but it all started before then. The fact that George Osborne swanned off to America with Cameron just days before the budget was announced was cause for concern for journalists everywhere. Shouldn’t he have been finalising policy decisions and ensuring that he presented a water-tight budget, rather than piggy-backing on Cameron’s love-in with Obama?

Once the budget came out, it was clear that it was just a little leaky – the press fell upon it like an expert plumber on a dodgy U-bend.  In particular, the pasty tax caused outrage – although the idea that pasties are the sole foodstuff of ‘the working class’ was an inflammatory and condescending insinuation on the part of the press.   Osborne’s decision to up the VAT on one of Britain’s favourite foods was bizarre and to add fuel to the fire (to use what is either an apt, or inappropriate turn of phrase) the planned petrol strikes threatened to bring the UK to a standstill. In some forecourts, it very much did. Whether you were worrying about your lunchtime treat, or fretting about filling up the car in Hampshire or some other non London county, the men and women running the country did little of substance to try and reassure voters. 

In fact, it seemed that politicians were more interested in playing a game of juvenile one-up-manship and headline grabbing than actually governing or trying to get their message across clearly to the people who matter – you and me. And surely the message they should be trying to get across is that as a nation we are STILL having to borrow £180 billion a year to pay for excessive government spending - if the UK was a private company, the liquidators would have been called in long ago! We have to close the gap between spending and tax receipts - because it's you and me that's paying for the spending frenzy that the previous government went on.

If you’ve ever had the misfortune to experience a management style which is all bluster and buzz words, all mouth and no trouser, then you’ll know what this feels like first-hand. It’s easy to dress up ignorance with fancy words and spin – but it’s a veneer that doesn’t stick, and won’t fool anyone for long. Clarity is underrated.

The same applies to when you start looking for a job - whether it's your first job or a new job.  Employers expect clean, clear, CVs from candidates – hyperbole and sensationalism don’t cut it, and often enough they’ll be covering up short-comings in other areas.  Instead of papering over the cracks, draw attention to your strengths. Likewise, trying to amaze or blind colleagues with superannuated jargon when you’re presenting them with what may be a difficult decision is lunacy. If it’s the right decision, then be bold, clear and confident when presenting it – even if it’s difficult to stomach, your colleagues will have far more respect for you than if you’d tried to disguise it as something else. 

Don’t fall into the same trap as politicians – engaging in a shouting match and playing to the gallery (which seems to be the order of the day for every PMQs at the moment) is the stuff of school boys and it doesn’t impress anyone in the long-run.

Politicians love the sound of their own voices - the fact that we can't hear what they think they are saying says a lot for the lack of respect they have for the people that elected them.  Don't fall into the same trap - apply the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid!  Remember though that in this case the stupid is not the person you are talking to, it's to remind you not to be stupid and make things complicated - anyone listening out there in Westminster?

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