I’m pretty sure that the Archers character Jennifer Aldridge is not meant to be taken seriously but her appearances last week have taken her pointlessness to a new level. She spent all week trying to force Peggy into getting home help through an agency (Peggy made her own arrangements in about two minutes), trying to get Lilian to bunk off work (too many reasons to mention why that’s a bad idea), hiding from Jim because he wrote that article in Borsetshire Life about Brian (Brian seems to have got over it OK), interrupting a progress meeting about the MegaDairy (TM) to harangue Rob Tichener about whether his wife will fly in specially to attend the Flower Flipping Festival and spent the rest of her air time exclaiming, ‘Oh!’ in that irritating way.
Now of course it’s a bit of a leap from social airhead to First Lord of the Treasury, but I was musing about how annoying it is when you need to get something done and someone wants to talk irrelevancies when I stumbled across an article by Tim Montgomerie. It’s behind the Times paywall but the salient sentences are these:
In his wooing of Tory MPs [David Cameron] thinks it’s enough for them to enjoy a tour of the Chequers rose garden or of the Downing Street art. In fact the backbenchers want to talk policy and electoral strategy. They often leave disappointed because Mr Cameron only wanted to talk about children or movies.
Imagine you’re a backbench MP. You get to meet the boss. This is your moment to talk about your issue – the thing you went into politics for. You prep and you practice before hand and you get your pitch just right. And he wants to talk about the flower flipping festival! Or Shrek.
It’s only a short step to feeling frustrated, to thinking that policy and strategy are all a closed shop for Dave’s mates.
The more this happens, the less connected Dave and the ranks become and the more likely that incidents that Swivelgate get out of control.
Dave, it’s simple. Don’t do small talk. People want to talk about big things with you. Don’t disappoint them. A hinterland is fine, but frankly your backbenchers are not as interested in your hinterland as you are. If you’re not sure, tune to Radio 4, listen to Jennifer Aldridge and do the opposite.