Tag Archives: Blair

In Praise of the Psychopath

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One of the most misused and least understood words in the English language is ‘psychopath’.

Thanks to the media, as well as the arts, the word is confused with ‘violent psychopath’.

Many years ago when I was still cavorting on the corporate stage, I asked one of my American ‘matrix’ bosses (who went on to head up one of the world’s biggest banks) what his ideal senior manager was. He studied me intently and replied, ‘An entrepreneurial psychopath with an MBA’…………..

‘Well,’ I thought, ‘at least I’m half qualified.’…..

If you’ve ever come across someone who exudes confidence, shows no fear, is quick to make decisions, is considered charming but has that edge of ruthlessness and is the best man or woman to have by your side in a crisis, the odds are that they have a psychopathic personality.

If someone ever calls you ‘psycho’ and you haven’t murdered your neighbour or drowned your young children’s kittens, take it as a compliment.

So what is suddenly making me think about the psychopathic personality? It is no more than the election to very high political office of a leader who is probably the most misunderstood individual to step onto the world stage in recent years.

I have already listed some psychopathic traits but if I add to them the fact that psychopaths don’t waste time, and only focus on the positive whilst being very assertive with a clear view of what they wish to achieve and remain totally controlled even when under pressure, you may already have guessed which brand-new leader I am referring to. Add to that the fact that psychopaths don’t become depressed or blame themselves if things go wrong because they never take things personally, but can be quite affable and lovable when they want to be – you know exactly to whom I am referring.

Company CEOs and many senior politicians are definitely psychopaths, which brings me to yet another trait which they all share and that is an ego with its own postcode! These people love themselves – they are narcissists of the first order. That means that you will not be surprised when I tell you that surgeons and lawyers, especially the ones who have climbed the greasy pole of stardom also tend to be psychopaths.

The Merrill-Reid Social Styles Model splits individuals into four main groups: Drivers, Expressives, Analyticals and Amiables. The psychopaths are the Drivers. They enjoy power – especially over their disciples or followers. Notice that I didn’t say ’employees’ or anything silly like that. These people enjoy being worshipped and looked up to. Those egos need sustenance! They demand worship!

So, don’t be surprised by Donald Trump signing executive orders like confetti. It is what he does. He needs to do it and to be seen to do it.

He does not want to be seen to procrastinate and is driven to get the job done as soon as possible without worrying too much about any collateral damage. Focus is not on the people, but on the end-result.

British Prime Minister Theresa May could not help but be charmed by Mr Trump on her recent visit to the United States. That is because many ‘Drivers’ such as Mr Trump can turn on the charm like a chocolate fountain – but that charm tends to be no more than a ‘learned behaviour’. Emotion-based traits do not come naturally or easily to the average psychopath but have to be studied gradually and learned to be used as no more than a ‘tool’ when needed.

Finally, a word of warning. When any individual who relies on learned behaviours in order to fit in with conventional society (or politics!) is ever put under extreme pressure, it is the learned behaviours which disappear and they revert to type – and the sparks begin to fly. In other words – no more Mr Nice Guy…….

I believe that we are in for a very interesting time.

p.s. If you are concerned about Theresa May being a psychopath – you will be pleased to know that she is most definitely an Analytical. That means procrastination – usually in the guise of  ‘I like all the information in front of me before I make a decision’. Just like that nice Gordon Brown.  As for Tony Blair? You decide.

Blair’s Dodgy Decision Making

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tony-blair

 

Judging by all the searingly emotional and often savage reactions to Tony Blair as a result of the invasion of Iraq, the continuing death toll and the Chilcot Report, purely for balance, I think it would be interesting if there was more understanding of Blair’s decision-making process. Such an understanding  may help many to begin to comprehend what prompted Tony Blair to invade and destroy a sovereign state.

I am certainly not a fan of Blair’s (and neither am I an apologist for Blair or his actions)…. but I do think it only fair that everyone should at least attempt to understand what he may have gone through in the weeks before he gave the green light for the British military to invade Iraq.

He is often portrayed as some sort of monster-warmonger and yet he was so loved by the majority of the British electorate until the moment that he latched onto George W. Bush’s shirt tails. Plus, he is a barrister and I therefore, I believe him to be a moral and honourable man.

Many decisions delivered by senior people are made on historical data rather than measurement. In other words, whenever a problem arises analogies are drawn between today’s problem and past difficulties with a decision being made on what may have provided reasonable solutions in the past. I hate labels but this is known as ‘decision-making by analogy’. In Saddam’s case it was “Remove the bad bloke and then it will  be much easier for us to put everything right.”

The question as to whether it was Blair’s job to ‘put everything right’ is not relevant  and debatable but throughout history, removing the bad guy at the top has proved to be the correct fix….and I believe that removal of Saddam was Bair’s core assumption and the premis upon which he based everything that followed.

Nowadays it is widely recognised that the best decision-making method is a systematic logical approach which actually looks at all the alternatives available, together with all possible consequences. This method removes what is known as the ‘gut’ decision and also takes all the emotion out of the decision-making process. This is not an infallible system any more than decision-making by analogy.  It is simply the best available to us at this time.

Here’s the simple straight-line thought process:

  1. Set objectives. In this case it would have been to remove Saddam Hussein and by doing so, to introduce democracy to Iraq.
  2. Evaluate objectives. For instance, would killing Saddam conflict with other goals and is democracy the right answer for a society with such a complex social system of religion, class, sect, politics and ethnicity?
  3. Collect information. The intelligence services were so obsessed with a specific type of information that everything else appeared to be ignored.  Was the correct information collected?
  4. Analyse all the information. Then re-analyse it.
  5. Develop alternatives. In this case, were different methods available? For instance, killing Saddam Hussein or possibly taking him out of Iraq. Did the Iraqi people actually understand what was meant by democracy? In which case, might it have simply been a case of replacing the man at the top rather than relying on people who had neither sense nor experience of government?
  6. Evaluation of all of the alternatives and then choosing the ‘best’ all-round alternative. For instance, the assassination of Saddam may have done the trick. Remember Gen Colin Powell pointing to possible WMD sites on satellite maps? Would destruction of those have emasculated Saddam?
  7. Communicating the final decision to all stakeholders – including Saddam and his people.
  8. Setting up control systems by deciding what was to be measured, how it was to be measured and when. Whatever solution was chosen, its effectiveness  and consequences needed to be measured or estimated.
  9. Implementing the decision after proper preparation and a detailed plan, including several ‘consequence’ scenarios.
  10. Finally, it’s the evaluation of the decision/solution. If the original objective was to introduce  Iraq to democracy – has it been successful?

In retrospect, it appears to be quite obvious that a modern approach to decision-making was not used, and that Tony Blair had made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein as an end and not as a means to an end.

However, when Tony Blair says that he feels that he took the ‘right’ decision, I believe him.

I also think that the root cause of everything that has happened since Blair made the decision to invade Iraq was a total lack of knowledge of a proper decision-making process compounded by an unnecessarily emotional attachment to George W Bush plus a strange and  yet-to-be-explained craving for a place in the history books.

Blair has certainly earned his place in history…so it really was a personal ‘Mission Accomplished’….but not as an evil person, merely as an incompetent.

Toynbee or not Toynbee?

The daily circulation of the Sun newspaper is just over 3 million, closely followed by the Daily Mail at 2.14 million with the once-great Daily Mirror at a struggling 1.2million.

At the other end of the scale ( below the Daily Star and the Daily Record) , the Guardian limps in at 275,000 and the Independent at 185,000.

The Times, Financial Times, Guardian and Independent , together with the Daily Record  represent the bottom 5.

So who is writing for whom? What differentiates the Guardian from say, the Sun? Which is the more influential?

The reader ship can be split into three main groups:

1. Those who believe everything they read

2. Those who no longer believe anything

3. Those who critically examine what they read and form their judgments accordingly.

The above groupings are important because the decision as to who , for instance governs the country,  is in the gift of the numerically strongest group –  the first one.

It is the Sun and Mail readers who call the shots.

The thick and the credulous have inherited the power to make or break governments.

Here in the United Kingdom, the whole ‘mix’ is further complicated by the once-trendy but now dead-hand of the Oxbridge Socialists. The ones who feed  the Guardian and Independent readers.

During Tony Blair’s tenure, these middle-class ‘Beau monde’ Socialists had their admirers. They were even briefly identified as ‘Champagne Socialists’. Teachers, middle managers, council white-collar workers and media people decided that the new Beau Monde Socialism was for them.  After all, Chief Druid Blair was from a middle-class public-school Tory background, so it had to be OK for the aspirational classes to think of themselves as ‘Socialist’. For a while, the bandwagon creaked.

Now that Blair has disappeared, the High Priests and  Priestesses of Beau Monde Socialism are beginning to struggle because it is now perfectly acceptable to be and think like a modern Conservative.

Now they are neither Socialist nor Conservative.  Nevertheless, they should be identified as a unique political species.

The collapse in the Guardian and Independent readership  has been largely driven by the very transparent insincerity of that particular flavour of Beau Monde Socialism whose roots developed  around   heavy  pine kitchen tables and  Notting Hill Agas.  This posh Socialism was nothing to do with the working classes.  It was (and still is) merely a rib ripped from the side of traditional Socialism.

In the 70s and 80s , Beau Monde Socialism developed in the intellectually-castrated Oxbridge canteens and cafes where second-hand ideas led to a third-rate pretend- ideology .

This Elito-Socialism, as for instance practised by Oxford dropout and occasional Guardian Columnist Polly Toynbee already feels a bit anachronistic and is certainly out-of-touch with the far less polarised political thinking of today.

Last week, for instance, Ms Toynbee wrote a convoluted piece on ‘chavs’. Her primary purpose was to weave in a couple of book ‘plugs’ but the poor old dear nevertheless managed to show how completely out-of-touch  she is with modern word usage and the current social scene.  She wrote as if the word ‘chav’ was a class-insult aimed at the poor.

Fifteen years ago she may have been right but nowadays the word is used as a mild insult which merely flags-up a lack of style or possibly bad behaviour.

It would seem that Elito-Socialism froze solid in the mid-90s. Modern Elito-Socialists should sometimes look-up from their Ipads and Macbooks to listen and see rather than surmise and sermonise.

Theirs  is not the ‘dirty hands’ socialism of the Welsh miner. That seemed so uncomplicated just 50 years ago. This is a Socialism borne of Chardonnay-fuelled discussion and  the over-intellectualisation of borrowed (proper) socialist views which have somehow mutated into comfortable middle-class chatter – but always with a decent shot of Guardian-spawned pseudo-intellect and the odd hand-made metaphor.

Instead of a defence of Workers’ rights, you are far more likely to hear Chomsky, Engels or Howard Zinn slip into the conversation. The substance is in the discussion and the end-product is the misconstructed and often fallacious idea.

It was refreshing to have clear evidence of this dying and once never-noble political breed.

Meanwhile, the Sun reader grunts as he runs his finger along the words.  Polly who?

( I would have added that Middle-of-the-Road Liberal Conservatism is the new Black but Ms Toynbee may have accused me of racism.)

Gaddafi – mad, bad or “fitted-up”

Politicians are pack animals and their chosen mode of transport is the bandwagon.  They have now gathered around Gaddafi and individually are beginning to bite lumps out of him and then scuttling back to the pack  in order to give the next one the opportunity to rip-off another strip.  The name of the game is isolationism.

The United Nations is busying itself condemning Muammar Gaddafi while simultaneously, the UN Human Rights Council is about to adopt a report which praises Libya’s human rights record. The report  extols Libya for improving its education and  constitutional framework. Several countries have made a special mention of the new legal protections which Libyan citizens now enjoy and the report praises Libyas efforts in making human rights “a priority”.  

The report was put together as a result of the Council’s November 2010 session but now, because of recent and ongoing events in Libya, it seems that it was all a collective “mistake” ( by 47 countries).

UN Watch, a  Geneva-based quango, is demanding that  the report be withdrawn and “the truth” be printed. It seems that in a matter of days, Gaddafi has gone from hero to zero but more importantly, the principle of “doublethink” exposes the United Nations as an organisation which deals in expediency rather than truth.

A few days ago, with encouragement from the United States, the Human Rights Council council passed a new  resolution condemning Libya’s abuses in response to the latest unrest. The Council has called for an international inquiry and has  recommended that Libya’s membership of the Council be suspended.

We have accepted that Gaddafi is “mad”, “deluded” and “isolated”.  But that seems to be at odds with the rather unedifying sight, just a few years ago of Tony Blair trying to get Gaddafi in a clinch and the unbounded joy as BP signed a deal with Libya. Then we had the rather speedy release of Al Megrahi from prison because of his yet-to-be-terminal prostate cancer.

Gaddafi seemed to have been fully rehabilitated and the propaganda machine painted him as maybe a bit eccentric but definitely doing his best towards his people.

Yesterday, when  Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor interviewed the Libyan leader, Gaddafi confirmed that the people “loved him” and that his security forces had been ordered NOT to shoot at his people. 

Elsewhere, the Americans are talking about  Gaddafi “slaughtering” his people.

In propaganda battles of this type, the truth is often the first casualty. So where is the truth hiding?

The reportage from Libya is biased against the Libyan leader and most will say “and quite right too”. However, in the interests of balance, let’s look at another scenario – probably ficticious and purely an illustration of another view.

Imagine a leader who lives an isolated life whilst at the same time, delegating the day-to-day running of the country to his family and trusted aides. He is an ex-soldier and not even remotely interested in the more mundane aspects of administration. He sees himself, not as a dictator but as a figurehead. He is a titular Head of State, such as we have here in the UK . He does not manage – he reigns.

One day, his subjects hear and see demonstrations in adjoining countries and think “We can do that. That democracy lark looks good”.

The street activities in Egypt and Tunisia gave the ordinary voiceless Libyan confidence and resolve, courage and hope.  They prepare placards and go out onto the streets because they too want “democracy”. What they all REALLY want is the  affluence which so-called democratic countries appear to enjoy and a fair share of the oil billions which their leader mistakenly continues to  confuse with his own money.

An air force general and a head of security services both see an opportunity. The air force general orders one of his planes to make a couple of low passes and shoot a few rounds into the gathering crowd. He then orders a couple of pilots to fly abroad and denounce the leader. The air force general then resigns and calls a press conference, blaming his leader for giving orders to kill protesters.

The Security Chief is persuaded by a well-known secret agency belonging to a big Western power. He orders  troops to shoot a few more protesters, then resigns and denounces the leader.

Meanwhile, the leader is in his bunker, being fed good news by his flunkeys. After all, people who once gave the leader bad news mysteriously disappeared.

Ambassadors, diplomats and other senior people all over the world suddenly withdraw their allegiance and denounce the leader.  They resign for a variety of reasons, ranging from self-preservation to being participants in a bigger oil-conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the leader is wondering what all the fuss is all about. After all, he loves his country and specifically requested that his people should not be harmed. He continues to be fed good news and (not unreasonably) declares that the people all love him.

However, his son (who was once very popular among London’s tosserati) then blows his democratic credentials by waving a gun in front of a crowd and declaring that they will fight “to the last bullet”.

Although it is very likely that the leader’s supporters are still measured in millions, Western media continue to only interview individuals who are anti-leader. Close-ups of burning vehicles and bodies in the streets give the impression that many thousands of the country’s citizens have been “slaughtered”.  In fact, the big Western power now openly uses the s-word.

The world’s political pack closes the air-space over the leader’s land and his country’s money is stolen by the politicians who by now, sense that the leader is blissfully oblivious of the fact that he is terminally wounded and has no escape.

He has been totally encircled. The politicians have closed ALL the doors and then paradoxically, tell him to “get out”. Understandably, the leader feels very let down and betrayed  because a few days ago, the same openly aggressive  politicians used to be his friends.

The politicians are already slavering over the prospect of rebuilding contracts, mining, oil and of course….more oil.

So what of the bruised and battered “truth”? Well, that’s purely relative.

A few days ago, the United Nations were about to publish a report praising the truth of Libya’s new approach to human rights. Now, the truth is that they are dealing with a deluded murderer who kills his own people. A genocidal maniac.

The truth always depends on where you are standing.

….and here are a couple of reminders from the family album:

and of course:

plus:

Gordon the Barbarian?

Why is Gordon Brown so unpopular? I am sure that he is a very nice bloke. THAT is where the problem lies. He is what we call (using the Tracom Social Styles model) an Analytical with a slight touch of Amiable. Predominately though, he is an Analytical.

Let me show you the behavioural traits of each type:

Analytical: He is driven by numbers – the accountant, the nerd, the engineer. At University, he will study a subject with lots of facts and figures. Stuff that can be analysed and reanalysed.  He is driven by facts and not emotions. The analytical  needs proof and the “numbers” have to make sense. The Analytical is  not a risk-taker  – only if it is a sure-thing. He suffers from what is known as “analysis paralysis” and will not make decisions on 90% of the facts. He needs all the facts. He does  not release his stress very often but when he does or when you cross cross him, you are in deep trouble. He will bury you. When he insults you – it will be personal! If you want to be loved by an analytical – give him the facts – the bottom line. Even so, he will say “No” a lot. He will procrastinate and use the fact that he still does not have all the information as an excuse. He is only liked by other analyticals. He prefers a road map to a compass when going from A to B. In spite of that, he may not always get there because the map is not detailed enough.

He will not say : ” I really feel for all of you who are struggling with their mortgage and household bills. I will do everything to ease your pain.” (Clinton, Blair) . (Clinton would probably add: “Your pain is my pain”.) 

The analytical will say: ” I will do my utmost to ensure that the economy comes back on track as soon as possible.”

The Analytical can be considerate and is self-controlled but very moralistic – with an over-developed sense of right and wrong. He is a  prude who always comes across as a bit stiff and starchy. He prefers the missionary position and a cup of tea. His dress sense is very “straight” and conservative. No Levis.

Amiable: Very much related to the Analytical. This is the submissive church-going type who is kind in his personal life. He makes a  good Staff Officer but needs a Driver-type to show him the way and to make the decisions. He is an idealist who wants a better world. He cannot lead.

Politics is all about “perception” not fact. Once a politician is perceived  as a certain type, it will stick. There is no going back.

As a “herd” we want and need to be led – preferably from the fiscal swamplands  into the sunshine of the Plains of Plenty. When Gordon Brown first took over from  Tony Blair we wanted him to be strong and statesman-like. Remember how he came across during his early skirmishes with the farm and flooding crises? He looked good but only because we were willing and wanting him to be good.

Then we had all that nonsense with the snap Election which didn’t happen. That was ( in Vince Cable’s words) his first Mr Bean moment. The beginning of the end.

The ugly spectre of self-interest is asserting itself in Westminster. MPs are slowly realising that in 2010 many will lose their seats. Those with small parliamentary majorities may have to get a proper job! 

They need a scapegoat. Their evil thoughts, like fledgling vultures are already clattering against the Westminster windows . Soon they will take to the skies. There will be blood.

Gordon was nearly the man who never was. In reality, he is the man who never should have been.