The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same

I don’t often talk about politics, leaving that to my far better qualified colleagues but I did want to take a moment to talk about a young, dynamic, intelligent, left-leaning, relatively inexperienced but charismatic leader who is the darling of the media about to take power thanks to a nationwide wave of social change and a landslide in the polls. A victory that was, in part, thanks to an innovative campaign where the campaign itself was as much of a story as the policies it communicated. An economy which is in the toilet but which has a new optimism sweeping the country thanks to the ousting of an weak predecessor with a waning popularity rating.

No, I’m not talking about Barack Obama but of Tony Blair, the former UK Prime Minister who, in May 1997, was elected on a manifesto of Time for Change personified by his party’s theme tune “Things Can only Get Better” by D:Ream. The campaign was seen by many (myself included – in my dissertation) to be the slickest PR campaign seen in (English) politics to date.

…and we all know how Blair’s tenure ended: a rash of broken promises, stealth taxes, injudicious support of a foreign leader and accusations of style over substance – by the same media he so skillfully controlled at the outset of his term. Couple this with billions of squandered pounds and almost twelve years on, Blair’s legacy is of a man who held on for too long and, if the media is to be believed, someone who has well and truly scuttled the ship for the next captain.

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“Same same but different?” Thai street vendors

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Even the most ardent of Obama supporters must realise that we should temper the hyperbole around his election with the realisation that no man could live up to the expectations he’s been saddled with. We must realise that the inherent problems with the electoral system in the U.S. mean that the best person to run the country is almost never elected – or even stands for election.  We must not overburden our promising young stars with unrealistic expectations. This applies in politics, in sports, and especially in business.

Corinne Baily Rae – Put Your Records On

Laura Ries has drunk the kool-aid but Rob Frankel takes a more measured look at the U.S.’s new leader. Or should that be figurehead?

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3 Responses to The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same

  1. david brain says:

    Ed your summary of Blair’s years is pure Daily Mail. How about: Peace in Northern Ireland, independence of Bank of England, Devolution, massive improvements in NHS, Education, reduction in crime and the longest period of economic prosperity in our modern histroy, not to mention that it feels now like we live in a modern braoadly fair society. Iraq and unquestioning support of Bush were his major downfalls.

  2. Arieh Singer says:

    Yet another great post Ed. Also, the tune and Thai references give it a happy ending…… 🙂

  3. davefleet says:

    Well said. Setting political preferences aside, I feel bad for Obama – the expectations of him are so great that it will be pretty much impossible for him to come through on everything.

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