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 …

Catch-up Part Two: The campaign to become Prime Minister

August 3, 2016

David Cameron ListeningIn Part One I looked at the developing stories from June 23rd 2016, the date of the European Referendum in the UK. To deal with the next part of the story, I have to go back to February, to the start of the months of national campaigning. 

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Catch up: Unedited notes for an unedifying time

July 21, 2016

I believe

 

For the last four weeks [Tuesday June 21- July 19] the political news in the UK has been changing so quickly that drafts of an unpublished post became outdated at least four times. Publication was then hindered for technical reasons. I have attempted to make  some retrspective sense out of my unposted notes

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Charisma watch: in Westminster: Making a spectacle of themselves

March 28, 2016

 Joseph Chamberlain

 There is political turmoil in the Westminster bubble, with ministerial resignations, budgetary U turns, and emergency sittings.  The presentation of self through TV broadcasts makes a fascinating topic for investigation

Take, for example, the choice of ocular aids. The Prime Minister, spic and span, is only transformed as he whips out a pair of unobtrusive spectacles to read from a supplied answer before him. He then replaces the specs as quickly as possible.

The entire Government front bench has been a near Spec-free zone in the absence of Michael Gove with his heavy duty spectacles. Maybe childhood bullying and taunts of ‘specky four eyes’ means there is reluctance among leadership wannabes to risk revealing an ocular weakness. Nor was there sign of that symbol of the ruling classes the magnificent monacle as espoused by Joseph Chamberlin.

In contrast, the opposition were fearlessly flaunting their spectacles. Leader Jeremy Corbyn rarely allows his features to appear specless in public. I pondered on the way leaders build their self-image in public.

 The Charismatics

I tried to remember the spectacles favoured by charismatic leaders. Gandhi  and John Lennon gave fashion credibility to the style of the aesthetic and creative individual. Then there is another recent  charismatic American politician whose spectacles were part of a spectacular brand image. I refer, of course, to none other than Sarah Palin.

 The Intellectuals

There is an intellectual heavy duty design which I associate with French heavy duty intellectuals. England can offer Michael Gove, aready mentioned above, in this respect. From America there is the intellectual, humourist and film-maker  Mr Woody Allen.

 The proposed research project

How to study this fascinating subject?  Clearly it calls for an exploratory or pilot stage. The classification of spectacles will be of itself an interesting part of this.  Our political figues could be classified according to preferred choice of spectacle, leadership style, and perhaps political effectiveness.

To be continued

Perhaps with a comparison of beards, or even hairstyles …