I’m not a big fan of non-fiction books but an exception among this year’s Christmas reading has been ‘Betting the House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election’ by Tim Ross and Tom McTague.
What makes the book highly readable is the first-hand insights from senior figures in the combatant camps who, it transpires, had no more idea of what was happening on the ground than the rest of us.
I’m not sure such revelations are encouraging but they confirm something I’ve suspected for a while.
The authors highlight how Jeremy Corbyn stamped his experience as a lifelong campaigner onto events thus confounding his detractors with a unexpectedly presidential performance. Not only did he abandon conventional wisdom by returning to a mass-rally approach but soaked up significant floating support along the way.
The stamp of this ill-judged snap election, and particularly from a Conservative angle, is that it was dominated by experts who still assume they know what motivates voters and issued messages about ‘change’.
Yet as veteran tory strategist Lynton Crosby remarked, "People don’t want wholesale change; they just want a few problems fixed and the world to calm down." Amazingly, no-one in the Theresa May camp listened despite paying £4m to retain his services.
As it happens, it is the nature of UK politics that has changed but not in way that party strategists readily understand or accept.
The result is that we can expect 2018 to be as dramatically unpredictable as the previous twelve months. Have a good one.
Seeking the Swansea way
There’s a pivotal scene in the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ where the main character forcibly declares his ambition to win Olympic gold.
“I believe in the relentless pursuit of excellence and I'll carry the future with me”, he asserts. If you’ve seen the film then you understand his aim is to match intent with professional realism.
I’m not a football expert. I can’t hold my own among the Swans devotees who list a team from March 1988 or the goalie’s mother’s maiden name. I may be the epitome of a fair-weather fan, but I know enough about business principles to tell that an outfit riddled with uncertainty is unlikely to survive.
I hear a lot down the Liberty and elsewhere about the ‘Swansea way’. I respect the principle and the people involved but lately it all comes across like the Home Guard trying to make do with scant resources while someone runs around shouting “Don’t Panic”.
Recent managerial stints have felt more like desperate drawn-out rescue missions; only for those rescued to put themselves at risk all over again.
Whether we approve of the fact or not, running a premiership club is essentially about running a business - and it’s not good business, either on or off the field, to put someone on a pedestal and then keep trying to kick it away.
People with good intentions want the best for the club but that needs a change of culture as much as a change of personnel. One without the other is pointless.