Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Go Children of the Country/ The Day of Glory Has Arrived if that's all right with everyone here? Jacques? Happy? Good! Er, right then. Allons!


Albert spat over the side of the sleigh. 'Hah! "Wouldn't It Be Nice If Everyone Was Nice", eh?'


Terry Pratchett



One of the odder things to come out of the Brown is a bully allegations is the number of commentators lining up* to complain that so what if he gets angry and shouty and grabby, he’s the leader and we don’t want someone soft in this time of crisis do we? The implication being that unpleasantness towards your work colleagues is a sign of strength of character and moral seriousness. It isn’t, of course, and the fact that people are peddling the idea that it is says more about the moral collapse of English politics than any amount of unpleasantness in the cabinet office. George MacDonald Fraser wrote in awe of his old commanding officer, General Slim, noting that the only time he saw him snarl at one of his soldiers was to reprimand one who had attached a skull to the bonnet of his jeep. He then tempered his rebuke by pointing out that it might have belonged to one of the soldier’s comrades killed in the retreat. This does beg the question that it would have been more morally acceptable to display an enemy’s skull which is a matter for another day. Genghis Khan displayed the skulls of his enemies I believe and he was, according to one of my brothers, a paragon of religious tolerance. The Ancient Celts were headhunters, a fact that tends not to be referenced in Enya songs or new age shops, though both would be rather more fun if it was. I’d take them much more seriously if they had the head of Richard Dawkins scowling at me from a glass cabinet instead of an overpriced geode. But I digress.

So is it possible to get things done in difficult circumstances by being nice and pleasant to people? Of course it is. I would go further and say that it is more efficient as a willing worker beats a dozen driven slaves. This does not mean an end to discipline and good order or that every decision has to be cleared with the typing pool, although it is my strong belief that a great deal of life would be improved if important decisions did have to be cleared by the least powerful. After all, it is they who tend to be the most effected and have the least hang-ups about pet projects, psychopathic disorders, personal vendettas or messianic tendencies.

Oh, one thing that has come out of all this for me is that it has confirmed a truism my own experience has taught me: all bullies are by no means cowards but every bully is convinced that he is the victim.

*in a disorderly manner and presumably pushing, kicking, pinching and giving each other chinese burns and dead legs

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