Would you run a business the way we run the country?

Here’s a thought.

Would you run a business the way we run the country?

Every five years, five or six people from each party sit in a room. They eat pizza and drink beer. They sit up late. They write a manifesto – which is essentially their business plan for government.

The manifesto outlines what they will do if they win the election. There’s not that much research or consultation and politics is much more important than evidence. So, more often than not, the right solution is not the expedient solution – i.e. one that they’ve determined as being electable.

If they are in opposition, they are writing their manifesto in even more of an information vacuum. They don’t know how much money is available, they don’t understand the resources and challenges that they will find in the civil service. There are no Sir Humphreys to advise them on the deliverability of their ideas. They can’t see the context in which they’ll have to deliver their plan.

When they win the election, they then set out to deliver exactly what they’ve said in their manifesto. If they deviate from that – even if deviating from it is the right thing to do – the press skewer them and the public abandon them. (A case in point being the Liberal Democrat u-turn on tuition fees.)

Imagine running a business like that? You write a five-year plan, in a room with little data, second guessing what your market will find palatable or not. Then, when the circumstances change, your market turns, your financial predictions aren’t correct or unexpected things occur, you plough on regardless, clinging to the original plan with your cold, dead fingers.

You wouldn’t run a business like that, would you?

If the answer to this is no, then the obvious question is…

Would you run a country the way we run the country?