Have you ever worked at a company that needs to make redundancies? I’d imagine that most people have, but just in case you haven’t here’s what happens.
An e-mail goes out to all of the staff. Obviously it varies from company to company, but all of the key phrases are in there…’wider economic problems’, ‘reduce costs to be more effective’, ‘poorer than expected Q4 performance’, etc. What’s always the same is the bit at the end of the e-mail, “Please reply to this mail letting us know your thoughts on who should be made redundant”. That’s your cue to give some serious consideration to the company structure; Dave in accounts seems like a fucking waste of space, whose main value is a sure win if you pick him in the Friday sickie sweepstake, but he also seems to be the only person you know who can make VLOOKUP work properly. These are weighty matters.
If you work in management things are even worse. This is a bit of a secret, so don’t tell anyone, but those at the very top of the company send a second e-mail to the management, telling them who they’re expected to vote for. These are always crouched in terms such as ‘suggestions’, ‘in no way mandatory’ and ‘absolutely not putting your dick on the chopping-block by naming anyone different’, but a good manager can read right between those lines. Not that knowing what’s expected lifts you off the horns of a dilemma. Susan from personnel is on the list, but if you vote for her she may well find out and un-friend you on Facebook, and that means no more bikini pictures of her in Magaluf every July. If you believe that you’re unlikely to get another promotion, or that the redundancies are to slim down the company to make it more attractive for a take-over then you might think it’s worth the risk of defying the boss and keeping your summer spot-the-nip-slip permissions safe.
Ultimately all of the votes from all of the staff who Susan remembered to include in the original e-mail and who could be bothered to fight their way through the crippling fear of job loss to actually reply are totted up and the list of those to go is published, accompanied by a vote tally, and the unlucky ‘winners’ get a short presentation, a cardboard box and 10 minutes to get the fuck out.
Just in case you’re believing all of this (in which case you’re either new here -and by ‘here’ I mean ‘on this planet’- or very, very drunk) it’s all gibberish. Redundancy is unpleasant for all concerned, the short- and long-term effects on the business must be considered, the whole issue is far too complicated and difficult to be thrown open to a public vote and left to come down to who can drive Excel formula or who posts hot Facebook pics.
And so it is with military action in Syria. For the people who’ve had security briefings, detailed analysis of the situation and projections of likely outcomes to e-mail 107,000 people and ask them to choose between #SoundsLikeAThingThatMightWork and #BombsAreNasty isn’t just pointless, it’s craven. It is the antithesis of proper leadership. Leaders are elected to lead, to make unpopular decisions when they have to, to weigh the options and arrive at a considered opinion.
I don’t mind that Corbyn is against bombing, I certainly don’t claim to have enough information to say that’s the wrong position. I doubt I could even spell the names of most of the groups fighting in the region. I do mind that Corbyn is using poorly informed public opinion both as a shield to avoid changing his own views and as a lever to crowbar other MPs into supporting him. He’s the company boss who can tell Dave from accounts that he always liked him and doesn’t want to see him leave, but that the staff have spoken rather than having to have the difficult ‘bad news about Christmas, Dave’ conversation.
Perhaps Jeremy needs to consider that if he wants to run a party or a country this way then it is the politicians themselves who are redundant.