Will Burnham Busses and Electric Bikes be the future for Manchester?

June 5, 2020

 

Manchester is facing an uncertain future as it attempts another transformation, perhaps the greatest since Cottonopolis sprung to life in the roaring days of the Industrial revolution

One initiative has been launched from the office of the Mayor Andy Burnham and his team, in conjunction with The Growth Company and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

Undeterred by the label, I signed up for one of its introductory webinars [June 5 2020]. I was pleased to discover that it was to be no more that an hour, a few minutes longer that the daily press conferences from the Government.

It turned out to be more interesting. For example, viewers were spared the PowerPoint slides.  The presentations were mercifully brief, and the presence of a facilitator obviously helped.

‘Build Back better’

The strap line for the initiative is Build Back better. But what does better look like? Its
Key themes are daunting but familiar ones:
Procurement
Strategy/Purpose
Working differently
People/Talent
Green
W/L balance

The mayor outlined existing and potential projects (the following from my notes)
Return to work: Adapting provisional changes. Returning to office v Working at home
Opportunities: Change Heath Care system. Integrated system for 2.8m people
Housing crisis:The high street will change. Implications?
New industries: Digital
Self Employment: challenges through existing and new support schemes
With Gvnt. Support for levelling-up initiatives: Retrofitting for construction opportunities to achieve zero-carbon housing

Questions

Questions from the distant audience (my notes again)
BAME help? 5% companies with BAME leaders. Working to encourage and improve.
Cycling importance? Work locations for more cycling walking components on work day. Newer modes like electric scooters.
Enhancing innovative actions? Recognising ‘front line staff initiatives’ taking place
Young people’s involvement? Already working towards a large-scale initiative including career progression.
Business start ups? Revive business apprenticeships and other entrepreneurial training
Next steps? To strengthen recovery strategy. To keep in touch with those becoming involved

Overview

A well-managed introduction to plans to support the challenge of regional reconstruction In the year of the virus. More posts as the project develops.


LWD leader of the month is Nichola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

June 2, 2020

 

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/uploads/projects/36220.jpg?1448272407

LWD leader for May 2020 was chosen from four political leaders currently in a political struggle over autonomy, while dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. The winner was Nichola Sturgeon, for her performances in the daily press conferences reporting on the Coronavirus news.

The four nations championship

The differences in policy reminds me in some ways of a battle such as the rugby union championship (known as the four nations championship before their numbers swelled to today’s six.
The original four nations championship contenders were England, Scotland, Ireland (combined NI and Republic) and Wales. This month’s political battles can be seen a struggle between the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, the last represented by the Leader of the Government in Westminster.

The Candidates

The candidates for LWD leader of the month are therefore
Nichola Sturgeon, Scotland
Arlene Foster, N. Ireland
Mark Drakeford, Wales
Boris Johnson , Prime Minister of the Parliament representing the four nations.

The West Lothian question

At the start of of the month [May 2020] tensions are building up between the leaders representing the devolved political administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on one hand, and the leader of the Westminster Government.
There is no Parliament of England (although it has its advocates). The Westminster Parliament has representatives from England, but also from the other parts of the United Kingdom.
This is what one commentator likened to a re-run of the West Lothian question.

Border complications

The complications implied in the West Lothian question around borders continued, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland administrations decided to exercise their rights by departing from the Westminster policy over easing the lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The first impact was border complications, with people from England free to cross the border but then having to accept different rules once across. Later, the opening up of schools became another dilemma.
Polite efforts were made to indicate shared values and goals, but tensions were to remain. Boris Johnson had the more difficult task of speaking as Prime Minister of all four nations, and sometimes for England in this current divergence of views.

The Daily press conferences

All four countries held daily press conferences. Sturgeon, Foster, and Drakeford choose to lead the meetings every day. Johnson took to team approach, with various cabinet ministers who became daily celebrities among the political commentators in MSD and internet communities.This kept him largely out of the limelight.

Towards the end of the month he gained publicity of an unwelcome kind in what became known as the Cummingsgate affair. (More in future posts).

The Sturgeon challenge

Nichola Sturgeon took on the challenge in exemplary fashion. Although facing inevitable distractors from political opponents, there has been wide consensus that her daily performances have been successful. In comparison, with one exception, the Boris substitutes have ranged from adequate to abysmal. (The exception, The Chancellor, Ricci Sunakwho had fewer opportunities to shine. However, he seems to have been favoured as a future leader of the Conservative party  by the supportive MSM papers. A future candidate for the LWD award?)

Sturgeon’s meetings took place in the early afternoon, and were covered more intensively than those of the other leaders, which did not attract the same attention outside their national news outlets.The challenge for all the leaders facing the press was communicating bad news including daily new deaths, with clarity and empathy.
Sturgeon was a convincing communicator. The train wrecks involving others were the right words came out, but increasingly appearing that they were being spoken uncomfortably from a script provided them.

In all, Nichola Sturgeon is a worthy winner of the LWD Leader of the Month award


The Four Nations Championship. Who will be LWD leader of the month?

May 9, 2020

 

LWD leader for May 2020, will be chosen from leaders currently engaged in a political struggle over autonomy while dealing with the Coronavirus crisis.

The dispute reminds me in some ways of the Home Nations rugby union championship.  At first this known as The Four Nations championship, before their numbers swelled to include first France, and then Italy. Finally its name changed and it became the Six Nations championship.

The original four nations championship contenders were England, Scotland Ireland (combined NI and Republic) and Wales. In politics, the matter is more complicated.

This month’s political battles can be seen a struggle between the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, the last represented by the Leader of the Government in Westminster.

The Candidates

The candidates for LWD leader of the month are
Nichola Sturgeon
Arlene Foster
Mark Drakeford
Boris Johnson

The West Lothian question

At the time of writing [8 May 2020] tensions are building up between the leaders representing the devolved political administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on one hand, and the leader of the Westminster Government.
There is no Parliament of England (although that has its advocates). The Westminster Parliament has representatives from England, but also from the other parts of the United Kingdom.
This is what one commentator likened to a re-run of the West Lothian question.
The original West Lothian question was about dual representation. The on-going political discussions about the Northern Ireland border have a similar core dilemma.

The leader of the month is the candidate deemed to have best managed the challenges facing them.

To be continued …


A simple lifesaving approach for social distancing

May 1, 2020

 

 

 

How to save lives

 
Here’s a way to save lives during the virus crisis, Use this simple signalling process to ensure good social distancing when passing another pedestrian. At least it avoids that left-right dance. It protects both those passing from possible infection.

The basic moves are for you to identify the way you intend to move, and signal, then indicate where to advancing passer-by should move.

Particularly useful where joggers, dog-walkers, or parents with baby buggies are approaching.

Try it out. It works. You can also make up versions of the actions you may feel more comfortable with.

The clip was shot without cruelty to the volunteers in view. 


Will Boris Johnson’s return win him the LWD Leader of the Month award?

April 26, 2020

Boris Johnson’s plucky return to take control of the Government’s anti-virus battle may not be enough to win him the Leaders We Deserve coveted award (Update)

From time to time, LWD examines leadership behaviours and awards a leadership of the month award. This month there are several strong candidates to choose from. Some argue such awards are pointless and misleading. However, the chronicling of the leaders draws attention to their actions.

The award would add further credibility to the PM’s reputation as a dynamic and charismatic leader. However, he faces tough challenges from others on the short-list.

Boris Johnson will take back control from his deputy Dominic Raab tomorrow [Monday 27 April, 2020]. Mr Raab nearly made the shortlist for his convincing ability to stick to a pre-agreed script in answer to journalists’ questions in press conferences this month. However, his answers sometimes were to different questions to those asked, which resulted in his eventual exclusion from the short-list.

The Short-listed leaders

Jacinda Arherne
Angela Merkel
Anthony Fauci
Andrew Cuomo

The results will be announced later this week.

Don’t miss it …

Update: Several new candidates have appeared on the list. But their claims are being checked.  In the meanwhile, here is more information about the shortlisted candidates

Jacinda Arherne, Prime Minister of New Zealand gained widespread approval for her leadership. following the massacre in a Christchurch mosque, and a volcanic eruption. Now she is leading a highly successful campaign dealing with the Coronavirus with similar sure-footedness.

Angela Merkel led from the front in her explanations to the German people. Her scientific background gives her an edge, she understands and explains lucidly. Unfortunately for wannabe leaders her communications are grounded in deep technical knowledge and authentic belief in her message.

“Merkel painted a picture of the greatest challenge since the Second World War, but she did not speak of war,” the influential Sueddeutsche Zeitungnewspaper wrote. “She did not rely on martial words or gestures, but on people’s reason. Nobody knows if that will be enough, but her tone will at least not lead the people to sink into uncertainty and fear.”Merkel’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is still very much a work in progress, but a poll released Friday by ZDF television showed 89 per cent of Germans thought the government was handling it well. The poll saw Merkel strengthen her lead as the country’s most important politician and a strong 7 per cent rise for her centre-right Union bloc after months in which it was weighed down by questions over its future leadership. The poll, done by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage

Trump’s medical advisor Anthony Fauci is hardly a well-known figure but he has an impressive reputation as a scientific leader in times of crisis.
A recent article illustrates his contributions and his current leadership skills.
‘Fauci was one of the first scientists to document “severe opportunistic infections among apparently previously healthy homosexual men”. His lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) led the charge for a cure, and he became the public face of the government’s fight to stop the virus.
Fauci has continued his life’s work, leading the effort to contain infectious diseases from Sars to Ebola to swine flu.
Working with the current president, Fauci appears to sense that keeping his job depends on keeping Trump happy. When he has contradicted Trump, he has usually done so gently. When Trump pushed the lupus drug hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure, Fauci said: “In terms of science, I don’t think we can definitively say it works”

New York’s Mayor Cuomo is currently also dealing with America’s mercurial President as he grapples with the State facing the gravest Coronavirus crisis. He appears to be resilient, with his own press conferences models of clarity and empathy.
He impresses me each time he addresses the scared citizens of New York

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of HM’s Government got off to a poor start when he announced himself having to self-isolate due the symptoms of Covid-19. With his ministers claiming he was in good health, things took a turn for the worse when he was diagnosed as testing positive, admitted to hospital and then into intensive care.
Then his brave battle turned round, he recovered, and until recently was recuperating at Chequers. He is returning to full control of the country’ s fight against the virus. However, this late return to form may be too late for him to secure the LWD Leader of the Month award

Update

Leader of the Month is:

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacinda_Ardern

In 2019, she was shortlisted for Times Person of the year and was spoken of as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership in the aftermath of the Christchurch shootings.

As her citation states, she gained widespread approval for her leadership following the massacre in a Christchurch mosque. Her empathy was matched with her firm actions.

Earlier this year, a volcanic eruption off the coast of New Zealand was dealt with again with effective measures combined with concern for those most closely involved.
Now she is leading a highly successful campaign dealing with the Coronavirus Crisis with similar sure-footedness.

Runners up

Runners up, but both worthy winners , were President Trump’s medical advisor Anthony Fauci, and New York’s Mayor Cuomo, both of whom showed a grasp of reality and were able to communicate it under hostile conditions.

Boris Johnson had a good month after a bad start. He fell in to the Covid-19 virus, and was hospitalised. Concerns were reported of his condition as he entered a High Dependency unit. Then the recovery to take back control of his cabinet. To add to his turbulent month, his fiancee Carrie Simonds gave birth to a baby boy. Supporters are pressing for the faithful to clap not only for the front-line heroes but the rescued Prime Minister.

 


Abnormal service will be resumed as soon as possible

April 18, 2020

From time to time I experience guilty feelings of a parent who has abandoned a favourite child. Leaders we deserve was my blogging pride and joy for over a decade. But times change. For personal and professional reasons I found myself preoccupied with other ventures. My blogs dwindled in frequency

Brexit and beyond
By the time of the EU referendum in 2016, I had begun expressing my new ideas through my self-published books. Seconds Out was a metaphor for Brexit, disguised as a fictional account of an evil mastermind, Lyman Groat, intent on world-domination. Groat was to reappear in The Unnamed Threat, which involved a devilish nerve-agent an accidental anticipation of the arrival of Coronavirus COVID-19 in 2019.
I began to use Twitter and then Facebook more (do join me through these sites).

Work in progress

I am currently working on a non-fictional account of the leadership issues to be found in the Battle for Brexit, currently sidetracked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like all UK Residents over the age of 70 I have been designated a member of a high-vulnerability group instructed to stay at home in lockdown while the government decides what to do with us.
Time under lockdown is fulfilling the einsteinian principle of relativity. For example, there is no longer a differentiation between weekdays and weekends. (TGIF has only a historical existence).

Abnormal service
The fundamental question raised by LWD remains. ‘How are leaders chosen in a democratic society?’ I look forward to making further contributions through this blog, even if the service will be more limited.


Transactional Analysis: Michael Gove and Sam Curren

September 16, 2019

 

Saturday 14 September, 2019

Michael Gove is a frequent flyer on Brexit airlines, with a role of communicating how the journey to Brexitland’s main runway is progressing. He is all you would expect of a fully trained flight steward. Reassuring, confident, earnest, fluent…

And yet…

There something deeper behind the public performances of this ambitious politician.
What might it be? I mused.
A thought came to me while listening to two sports journalists this morning. They were discussing the brilliant bowling displays of Joffra Archer and Sam Curran yesterday, playing for England against Australia.
Archer has already become the latest hurricane-fast bowler in test cricket. His life-threatening deliveries have had more effect on the world No 1 batsman Stephen Smith than all the other plodders in the England team. Yesterday his six wickets reduced Australia to a losing position that even Smith was unable to buttress.
The commentators gave Archer due respect for another game-changing performance.
‘But we mustn’t forget Sam Curran,’ the first pundit says, ‘he bowled as well as anyone.’
‘He also brings so much freshness and youthful energy to the team’ say the other. ‘When he had those two lbw appeals turned down he looked like a little boy who hadn’t had the birthday present he was expecting.’
What, you may be thinking, has that to do with Brexit and Michael Gove? I am coming to that. The cricketing anecdote puts me into sense-making mode. A venerable form of analysis comes to mind. Personal interactions can be examined as exchanges between three states of mind, parental, adult, or child. The descriptions of Young Sam sound pretty much like parent to parent (nurturing sub-category) exchanges.
Why not adult to adult? Because That would sound more like a conversation continuing: ‘He showed his disappointment when his appeals were turned down.’
‘Yes, he would have taken the wicket of Steve Smith, which could have changed the course of the game.’
Now back to Brexit Airlines. Michael Gove is constantly operating in grown-up mode. In public, he speaks as one adult to another. This week he said ‘Our preparations for exiting the EU are satisfactory. No one will be deprived of any medicines they require.’

The concealed message

Now for the next bit of the transactional analysis. A message often has another and concealed meaning. Michael may well be playing a game, saying one thing while concealing another.
His concealed message may be ‘there, there, don’t bother yourself with all that, daddy will see everything will be alright in the end’ which seems to me more like a parent to child transaction. These transactions often often induce parent child reactions (‘don’t talk to me like that’).

Other explanations are possible

Other explanations are also possible. As one fictional politician remarked, ‘you may say that, I couldn’t possibly comment.’


The yellowhammer dossier

August 21, 2019
Possibly the biggest story so far in the Brexit drama. The Sunday Times of August 18th obtains and publishes the government’s classified ‘yellowhammer’ report in full.
The headline reads ‘Operation Chaos: Whitehall’s secret no-deal plan leaked’. Across pages 2-3 is a quote from ‘a cabinet office source’: ‘This is not project fear it’s what we face after no-deal’.
The credibility of the leaked materials is reinforced by its appearance, hastily composed sheets, each page of which is replicated and emblazoned with a red OFFICIAL SENSITIVE stamp. The pages are surrounded with synoptic analyses of each of its fifteen points, by a team led by the investigative journalists Rosamund Urwin and Caroline Wheeler.
The consequences of a no-deal Brexit are chillingly outlined in a base scenario, and fifteen key planning assumptions. The journalists emphasise that the documents ‘set out the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than worse-case scenarios’.
This has not prevented government spokespersons from referring it as a worse-case and highly unlikely scenario. Among them, James Cleverley has been in broken-record mode since.
Five critical areas
In essence the report highlight five critical areas to be addressed in the event of a no-deal Brexit:
‘types of fresh food supply will decrease’
‘Traffic caused by border delays could affect fuel distribution’
‘Medical supplies will be vulnerable to severe delays’
‘Channel port disruptions worse for 3 months before improving to around 50-70 percent’
‘N Ireland disruption is likely to result in protests’.
The significance of the report
Prior to the boisterous age of Social Media, The Sunday Times was accepted as a highly distinguished investigative newspaper. Recently, the credibility of such reports are dismissed, along with those of ‘so-called experts’ . One such dismissive voice Michael Gove is now the chair of the committee with ‘full control over Operation Yellowhammer chairing the Brexit war cabinet from No 10 Downing Street.
However, the authenticity of the report has not been denied. It has added credibility as coming from a newspaper not among the flag-bearers for opposition to the Government. If The Guardian, The Mirror or The Huffington Post had obtained the scoop it could be more easily dismissed.
In one way there is some comfort in the fact that the report has become public knowledge. it is in the nature of social science that awareness permits action and change. The tireless efforts of Michael Gove and the Brexit war cabinet will no doubt be redoubled to do what remains possible in the few months available to them.
Where does Boris Johnson come into all this? 
Curiously, it is hard to see what any leader can do regardless of charisma, insight, or credibility to influence the short-term consequences of a ‘no ifs no buts Brexit’ he has committed to.
To be continued …

Leaders we Deserve: The battle for Britain, 2019

May 26, 2019

img_0279

A long-running political drama reaches a predictable conclusion. Theresa May, the beleaguered prime minister of the United Kingdom makes a tearful announcement of her resignation. In her own words, her best efforts have failed to win the approval of parliament for her plan to leave the Economic Union.
The battle begins three years earlier, when the preceding prime minister David Cameron resigns after the loss of a referendum he called. In Cameron’s case his plan was to renegotiate terms of remaining in the EU. ‘The will of the people’ (TWOTP) as it became known by triumphant leave voters, forces his immediate resignation.
There follows a prolonged battle in parliament to implement TWOTP. Leaving the EU turns out to be impossible politically. Explanations are hotly disputed. The most vehement supporters of leaving are labelled Brexiteers. Those wanting to remain Remoaners.

Timeline

The Guardian provided a timeline of six critical events building up to May’s resignation

11 July 2016
Theresa May is elected Conservative leader and, having backed remain, seeks to unite her party by appointing key leave figures to the cabinet, including Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, Liam Fox as trade secretary and David Davis as Brexit secretary.
2 October 2016
In her first conference speech, May states that ‘we are going to be a fully independent, sovereign country’ and implies the UK will leave the customs union and the single market.” Three months later, she delivers the Lancaster House speech that confirmed her red lines (non-negotiable.
8 June 2017
Having decided to call a snap general election in order to garner a majority that would allow her to push her Brexit vision through the Commons, a calamitous campaign results in the Conservatives losing their majority. That left May not only turning to the DUP in order to prop up her government but set the scene for the parliamentary deadlock that was to come.
6 July 2018
May gathers her warring cabinet at Chequers in a bid to set out a compromise negotiating position that has a chance of finding favour with the EU. But a perceived move towards a softer Brexit provokes an immediate backlash from the right of the party, prompting the resignations of Davis and Johnson from the cabinet and new plotting from ERG members.
13 March 2019
With her deal having been voted down by a crushing 230 majority when she first brought it before the Commons in January, May tries again with 19 days left until the original Brexit date. She is again humiliated when the deal is beaten by a majority of 149 votes, as the process becomes mired in parliamentary paralysis.
21 May 2019
After weeks of fruitless talks with Labour over a Brexit compromise, May launches her ‘new’ Brexit plan, with 10 commitments designed to address cross-party concerns about her withdrawal agreement bill. Cabinet agrees to the plan, but Andrea Leadsom resigns as the leader of the House of Commons. By the end of the week, May announces her departure.

The critical point seems to have been the rise of a new right- wing party led by Nigel Farage which threatens to score a remarkable success in the European parliamentary elections later this month, at the expense of the conservatives (who hope until too late they would
by then be out of the EU).

Runners and riders

The views of political pundits are to be found across the print and electronic media. A favoured metaphor is the of runners described as preparing for the off in the Grand National. The BBC’s Cornelius Lysaght, a racing commentator, describes a mock race from the starting gate ‘with Boris’ in the lead but followed by a field of over a dozen runners. The possibles in ‘The poisoned chalice trophy’ swell to around twenty in the days before the resignation.

I will try to keep a LWD diary over the course of race. Comments welcomed.

Sunday 25 May

The date when the results of the EU elections are announced …

To be continued


Why picking a chess club secretary is proving difficult

May 23, 2019

img_08241

We should have seen it coming. Our little chess-club had relied for too many years on re-election of a small number of dedicated members.

Two years ago, our club chairman Geoffrey announced his retirement. It set off a chain reaction with unpleasant consequences. An obvious replacement candidate for Chairman was our our long-serving club secretary David. Which of course left the post of secretary to be filled. In addition, our equally long-serving treasurer, Roger, had given advance warning of his intention to retire, and the first-team captain had regretfully left us for personal reasons. Our website designer and manager also had to resign to deal with his business commitments,

There was the usual reluctance of volunteers to fill the posts. However, two new members offered to help, as treasurer and secretary. Captains were found for the four teams in various divisions of the local league, as well as a new web-site manager.

Our membership numbers have remained around 22-24 for many years. Unfortunately we have not succeeded in recruiting enough new members to have a surplus of volunteers to fill the official roles.

We found ourselves stretched by these forced changes, but not to a serious level, unless we were to lose another of the important officials. Which, of course, is what happened. Our new secretary also gave notice that he would be unavailable for reappointment.

This was the situation at the start of our recent AGM. Unsurprisingly, the meeting lasted even longer than usual. Try as we could, we could not reshuffle roles or find further volunteers.

We have to continue as if it is business as usual, with confirmation to the league of our intentions, and required information of officials and registered league players. The out-going secretary has been unable to complete all information required. A deadline approaches when the fixtures are arranged. We are facing our own little Brexit.

Suggestions welcomed.

(This makes a genuine case-example calling for ideas into leadership, organisation behaviour, and creative thinking. I will convey suggestions to fellow members of the club, in my new role as its publicity and communications officer.)