Doing your homework

Preparation is the key to success, or so thought Benjamin Franklin when he stated “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” If last night’s football match is anything to go by this adage appears to be fairly accurate. For years, the England football team have treated penalty shoot outs as a by-stander to the main event, presumably confident that they would not be taken all the way through extra time to the dreaded event itself. And yet Gareth Southgate (perhaps learning from his own miserable experience in 1996) ensured his team spent huge amounts of time in the run up to the World Cup preparing for such an eventuality, looking at the phycology behind penalties as well as the practice itself.

Well done Gareth, and our politicians can learn from your stance. Nicola Sturgeon botched her re-shuffle last week by promoting Gillian Martin to a junior ministerial position without going through the most basic of checks – which would have uncovered wholly inappropriate tweets and comments. David Cameron appointed Chloe Smith to a Treasury position for which she was entirely unsuited – presuming that because she had worked for Deloitte she was a trained accountant. In fact, she was a management consultant. George Osborne’s 2012 Omnishambles Budget, Hammond’s recent u-turn on changes to NICs and Brown’s see-sawing on calling an election also spring to mind. And the least said about the Brexit preparations the better as it is becoming clear to all that whatever preparation has been done by Theresa May and her Ministers is not enough by many miles.

And yet throughout our lives the lesson of preparation is drummed into us from an early age – would we go into a school test without revising; a job interview without conducting any research and working out answers to standard questions or pitching for new business without knowing our potential customer. Of course not – with the possible exception of revising for school tests! So why do we see such absurdity time and time again from our elected officials. The Prime Minister spends every Wednesday morning preparing for PMQs, and yet calls a snap election. The Opposition is preparing detailed policy documents ahead of an election and a possible move into power and yet cannot define their position on Brexit, whether we stay in or out of the Customs Union and how they would prepare the UK for life after the EU. At least the SNP are organised, but then again, their mass walk-out a couple of weeks ago just looked staged and attention seeking.

Nancy Pelosi’s wise words – organise don’t agonise – would serve many of our politicians well. Perhaps after the England football team’s success last night, Southgate might inspire a whole generation of decision makers to do their homework; just imagine what he could do if England progress further.