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Publication date: 2016-12-28

Cluelessness in Modern Politics

Denis Healey, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979, once explained his behaviour as a Chancellor, which included setting an income tax of 92%, as follows:

When the Labour Party came to power in 1974 he wanted to be Foreign Secretary, but was given the post of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he had “no clue” what it was all about.

He did not decline that offer on the grounds of cluelessness, but soldiered on till the end of the term.

Another example of “cluelessness” is the explanation by Lord Kerr in a BBC interview of why he drafted Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon the way he did:

The [termination of agreement] process “wasn't really necessary” because it has always been possible for a country to quit.

If you stopped paying the bills and you stopped turning up at the meetings, in due course your friends would notice that you seemed to have left.

Lord Kerr obviously has no clue what is the purpose of a termination clause of an agreement.

But it is even more remarkable that neither the Government, nor the Media have a clue about the cluelessness in their midst.

Or is it, as in that tale of the Naked King, everybody knows, but pretends they do not?

Of course, the above two examples of cluessness are by no means the only ones. And maybe even not the worst. Politics is made of cluessness.

But not to make this article the size of Encyclopaedia Britannica by citing each and every example of cluelessness we shall leave the task of cluelessness spotting as an exercise for the readers.

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