This story from the Telegraph this morning provokes an understandably immediate and cheesed-off reaction: “Who knew?” As a newly-appointed junior minister admits the government screwed up over the NHS reforms, it’s hardly surprising that the reactions prior to the bill’s passing should already, back in February, have been thus.
But the big story for me today is not that the government finally admits it screwed up. The big story for me today is that the government is bad before it’s mad.
Any intelligent and sentient beings, understanding that things were getting as grave as they have been with a subject as impactful as the nation’s health service, would surely have found it within themselves to seek support and help across party lines in order to resolve the encroaching mess. Now I’m not arguing that Cameron & Co are anything but intelligent and sentient beings. What I am saying is that, despite this fact, they are sufficiently lacking in self-confidence – even now, two and a half years after half-winning/half-losing a general election – for them to feel incapable of such acts of sensible politics.
They’re not primarily mad ideologues out to destroy the entire fabric of English society – though this may yet be the case – but, rather, simply awfully insecure politicians who don’t really know what they’re doing to our country and, actually, in the light of these recent declarations, know they don’t know.
The world suffers often from the securities of the single-minded. But there is a moment in the political cycle when the insecure and inept are far more dangerous than the pig-headedly decisive. And that moment has now arrived. That moment is when the insecure and inept realise they may not be up to the job they are responsible for; that their previous decisions have made things far worse; and that history will almost certainly judge them poorly.
When the insecure and inept realise – with security – how inept they are, and even so do not want to give up on the responsibilities which make their lives so astonishingly attractive and powerful, is when the rest of us do need to begin to watch our steps. Nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal, after all.
Nothing more dangerous than ineptness in charge.