Posted by: davidjmarlow | 14/03/2013

Finding method in the madness…

It is virtually impossible to get through a week without striking, multiple evidence that ‘the world is mad’; and that its pathologies are fundamentally about a complexity of overlapping duplicity.

My first example tries to unpick why I almost felt sorry for Chris Huhne and Vicky Price on their being sentenced to a period in prison. The catalyst for their self-destruction was Huhne’s attempt to evade driving license penalty points for a speeding offence. Readers of this blog will recall my experience of the police and CPSs total lack of integrity when it comes to the way they entrap and prosecute drivers for reasons totally unrelated to any concern about road safety. Given the vindictive incompetence of these two institutions, it seems to me that Huhne and Pryce were entirely reasonable in ‘playing the system’ and frustrating the malevolent pettiness of the police – hence my momentary regrets on the ‘filth’ getting belated revenge for a couple frustrating them over a speeding incident ten years ago.

Of course, on reflection, it is clear that their custodial sentences are totally unrelated to speeding at all. Pryce – seemingly overcome with bitterness over the marital breakdown with Huhne some years later – sought vengeance on her ex. She tried to ‘fit him up’ for the speeding deception. The jury decided they were both ‘in this together’, and so they have both gone down for eight months for ‘perverting the course of justice’.

My only other blog that dealt with perverting the course of justice was ‘a case of Chelsea mourning’. In this John Terry stuck to his ‘improbable, implausible and contrived’ story about calling Anton Ferdinand a ‘fucking black cunt’ and escaped the wrath of the law. The multiple duplicities of Huhne and Pryce broke a ‘golden rule’ – if you are going to pervert the course of justice…stick to your story!

nani redA football theme underlies the second overlapping duplicity of the week – Manchester United’s totally deserved exit to Real Madrid in the Champions League. The media focused attention on the seemingly harsh sending off of Nani when United were 1-0 up (and apparently relatively comfortable); and then Mourinho (Real Madrid’s manager) humbly leaving the pitch side with a couple of minutes to go and proclaiming in his post-match interview ‘the best team lost

If Huhne and Pryce epitomise the bitter duplicity of human betrayal and breakdown, Mourinho and the media are duplicity and ‘tosh’. Certainly, Nani’s sending off was harsh (but neither ridiculous nor unprecedented). It was only a turning point because United then proceeded to implode – unable to play a holding game with ten men (unlike countless examples of teams a man short winning games against superior opposition through organisation and hard work).

As United collapsed, Real scored a couple of goals and then saw the game out. This patently, and self-evidently, made them the better team; and any soccer cognoscenti – let alone one like Mourinho – knows this. His departing the pitch two minutes early was not humility – it was the media grabbing attention-seeking of a supremely arrogant man who didn’t want to share the limelight with players and his opposite number at the end of the game. His ‘the best team lost’ commentary was a sycophantic and sickening attempt to ingratiate himself with UK media, United decision makers and fans as a candidate for the manager’s position when Ferguson retires. The ‘special one’s’ transition to the ‘shallow one’ was completed at the apex of a pyramid of deceits.

And so to my professional life….

rgfI had the pleasure this week of drafting an application for a client to Regional Growth Fund Round Four (RGF R4). The project has some merit, which is more than can be said for the application form!

The length and detail of the form belies the deep-rooted scepticism with which RGF is regarded – as a whimsical, patronage based, centrally controlled fund that government deploys to buy support and give the impression it cares about local growth.

I always remember a parable that had wide currency in the Caribbean when I lived and worked there in the 1980s. It was that Forbes Burnham could afford to have a perfectly free and democratic election process in Guyana, because he determined how and when the ballot boxes were opened and the votes counted.

The RGF form is like that. You rather suspect it doesn’t really matter how you answer the questions – the Advisory Panel will recommend to Clegg’s Ministerial Committee who know what they want from RGF before the appraisals are undertaken.

Nevertheless, it is fun to contemplate section L which asks ‘Do you believe that the programme or its outcomes will have a disproportionate positive or negative impact on any of…minority OR majority ethnic communities; women OR men, including transsexual people; disabled people; lesbian, gay men, bisexual OR heterosexual people; people with particular religious OR non-religious beliefs; people in particular age groups’ (MY EMPHASES).

Helpfully a yes/no dropdown box is provided for each category of person; but effectively you have to answer NO, because if you answer yes to any of these you then have to explain how you are going to mitigate this impact. So you are almost forced into a position of asserting that your project will have neither a positive nor a negative disproportionate impact on anyone – which some might say makes the whole concept of a publicly-funded intervention untenable in the first instance.

Government’s commitment to equalities, Mourinho’s to humility, and Huhne and Pryce’s to each other are concurrently both shallow and deeply choleric. There are times when this constant cynical hypocrisy weighs heavily on my demeanour. But, as with the ‘unbearable lightness’ and ‘waiting for sunrise’ blogs, I try to be resilient and to travel positively. It is not inconceivable that Huhne and Pryce do gain something valuable from the next period. It is not impossible that Mourinho can find sincerity, and some of the more thoughtful reporters did share my analysis of United’s downfall. And maybe my professional endeavours can enable better economic progress to be delivered – despite government’s best (or worst) efforts.

Perhaps there is method and meaning in the world’s madness…

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