Just like the Apprentice

Recently I have been clearing out unwanted communications. I am no longer teaching or writing on training, learning and development and cheerfully pressed the unsubscribe link at the bottom of numbers of e-mails as they arrived. My in-box has become much more manageable as a result. I thought that I had eliminated most of the special offers and was therefore disappointed to see a whole new batch arrived. On inspection they turned out to be from the candidates for the Labour Party Leadership and Deputy Leadership soliciting my vote.

All these new e-mails look the same. They are slickly presented marketing operations offering me the opportunity, at the mere click of a button, to associate myself with this excellent product. Some of them invite me to offer comments with an assurance that they, with doubtless many thousands of others, will be digested eagerly by a candidate who is awaiting my input. All the e-mails are totally devoid of substance or political content.

Suitably depressed I therefore made time to watch the one-hour leadership debate that was broadcast on BBC Newsnight this week. I saw some slick performances that underlined my unease on marketing politics as a consumer good. More importantly this event reminded me of something and I couldn’t put my finger on it until the following day. It was just like the Apprentice.

The Apprentice has always been one of my favourite programmes. When the candidates arrive, they all look and sound the same and start off with an identical message: ‘I’m the only one here with the background, experience and determination to meet Lord Sugar’s needs. If he has the good sense to choose me I will deliver and will exceed his expectations’. It’s only when they are given tasks and observed closely that any assessment can be made and real substance revealed.

I wish that we could do something similar with the Labour Party Leadership. I want to know how the candidates would choose the people who will become their inner circle and how they will use them; I want to know how resilient they are under pressure; I want to know how much they will compromise and which of their principles are sacrosanct. As it is all we will get is more e-mails. Of course I will vote but I’m not signing up for the special offers.

Leftyoldman will be blogging every week between now and the Labour Leadership declaration in September

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