It’s reasonable to ignore decisions in the past and what you do because of new circumstances. Let’s call it the Hammond principle. It’s common sense. What’s the fuss?
“The government, he said, faced “some new challenges which we have to rise to”. Referring to the extra £2bn committed to adult social care in the Budget, he said: “We have to pay for these things somehow.””
I do support more taxes to pay for social care, but that’s not where it will go. It will go to the much bigger £50bn sized bills for Brexit or Trident. I don’t support taxing UK entrepreneurs to raise £145m, over addressing the billions in transnational tax free corporates. I don’t support suppressing entrepreneurialism. It’s right that the tax system recognise that people working for themselves and creating jobs take more risk than those who have a job.
But back to the Hammond principle. To misquote Oscar Wilde when he asks a grand lady whether she will sleep with him for a million pounds and she thinks about it: “We’ve established the principle, we’re only arguing about the price.”
So could the same principle of context affecting decisions be applied elsewhere in government? A change in policy to meet a new challenge versus a ‘no change in policy’ whatever it costs?
After all in business we do it all the time. We don’t always explain it well, mind you. We are changing this investment because these circumstances changed. Quite normal.
It seems that new challenges are now on the table compared to the Brexit manifesto. A £50bn bill for Brexit, the impacts for the economy, the complexity and number of years it will take, the complete distraction of brain power, the impact on the Irish question, the possible break up of the UK, the £350m that is not going to the NHS; the replacement of an international workforce. The difference in the Trump economy. Check out the size of the challenge: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08hrf7w/brexit-britains-biggest-deal.
So according to “Hammond’s principle” we could in theory revisit Brexit but I don’t think that is going to happen. After all it would have to happen in the next few weeks. But did anyone vote for a dogmatic Brexit in which common sense is thrown out of the window? I don’t think so. We could and should revisit the flavour of Brexit previously announced because circumstances are becoming clearer, the evidence is changing from what it was last June or even January. It’s becoming clear what some of the figures and impacts are, as opposed to what they were forecast, or were made up, to be.
If politicians are allowed to admit what the real economics of Brexit are, then they can be allowed to change the approach. We must allow them room to do the right thing at the time. We would if it were in business, wouldn’t we?
Will the country give them that room? It probably already has.
Will the media give them that room? Will the the very few right wingers who seem to have a stranglehold, let them? The political question here is whether the UK is run by a very few people by dogma. Or whether parliament is acting in the best interests of the UK, the economy and the majority of people of the UK. At the time.
If you ran your business as an autocrat not listening to your customers or your staff, how would you be seen? How would you be feeling? Isolation, pressure, uncertainty which would push even more authoritarianism?
Could Brexit and principles be important enough that we should give politicians room to change rather than damning any change in course due to the circumstances? Or should we keep blaming them for changing course rather than ploughing straight into a force 10 gale?
Is it possible to debate rationally what to do in the light of the information coming on to the table? Flexibility is part of negotiation and will be needed.
Or are we going to hear our leaders play the stuck record of a hard Brexit at any cost? To stifle debate of the terms of Brexit is not denying the will of the people. It is denying common sense. It wouldn’t work in business…..well maybe in America.
So if there is to be a “Great” in Great Britain, please let’s have some open and honest debate in the light of the changing evidence. It’s what our brand stands for, after all. Our customers are watching us: in China, India, Asia as well as the US and Europe.