Ten Lessons of Government

I recently came across an article discussing Tony Blair’s speech this week. In it, he mentions ten things he learned from his time in the government. He includes some very interesting points and seems to have given much thought to this list. I find each one of them to be intriguing, though some more than others. The list is as follows:

1. Governance is a debate about efficiency rather than transparency

2. We are operating in a post-ideological politics

3. People want an empowering, not controlling state

4. The centre needs to drive, but not deliver, systemic change

5. Departments should be smaller, strategic and oriented around delivery

6. Systemic change is essential in today’s world – as the private sector demonstrates

7. The best change and delivery begins with the right conceptual analysis

8. The best analysis is based on facts and interaction with the front line

9. The people you appoint matter dramatically – private sector skillsets are needed

10. Countries can learn from each other

I personally find number two to be the most profound statement and if he is indeed right, that may be a sad fact for civilization. What do you find as the most impacting or true statement and why?

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6 Comments on “Ten Lessons of Government”

  1. Good post – 2, 3 are great

  2. Peter Barden Says:

    Definitely number 2 (We are operating in a post-ideological politics) is the most problematic of all of the ten statements. I’ve been criticised recently for being ‘too utopian’ in my thinking; the problem that I recognise is that we are living in a ‘utopia’, a liberal democratic capitalist utopia. I think that Fukuyama was right when he signaled that we’ve reached the end of history, that all of the other systems have failed (Monarchism, Fascism, Communism etc) and what we have now is a series of crises in the global order that completely disavows its own ideological prejudices. Blair exemplifies this attitude perfectly with his second statement. His seventh is pertinent (The best change and delivery begins with the right conceptual analysis), as I’m not sure that he (or anyone really) knows exactly what is going on. I wonder what analysis Blair would have of his decisions in hindsight of whether his government created the best change and deliverance in Britain and elsewhere (although, given the current state of the Euro, perhaps he was right to keep the Pound Sterling).

    My analysis is that we are so embedded in ideology that it is difficult to make people aware of it. As Keynes said of Hayek’s theory, “It is an extraordinary example of how, starting with a mistake, a remorseless logician can end up in bedlam.”

  3. captainkudzu Says:

    I can’t imagine what would take the place of ideology in politics. Hairstyle? Skin color? Favorite football team?

    If you don’t vote based on ideology, then what do you vote on? Even voting for the fellow who will keep your benefits coming is an ideology of a sort.

    Thanks for the comment on captainkudzu btw. Following you now.

  4. Peter Barden Says:

    Thanks for your comment captain kudzu.

    You believe in your vote.

    I don’t.

    That’s ideology.


    At your dissection.

    I mean discretion.


    Capitalism is not the enemy. Democracy is the enemy.

    Enjoy your vote.


  5. krsurendran Says:

    A political system based on an ideology which is positive is very much indispensable in a world bereft of any ideology through which we tread in this contemporary world. Anyhow I do not take Tony Blair’s comments at its face value who in fact during his tenure as PM performed as a most loyal servant of George Walker Bush otherwise his master’s voice on the matter of intervention and subsequent destruction and devastation of Iraq.

  6. Rivenrod Says:

    Even before Tony Blair was in Government I had the impression that he was someone more concerned with how he came across than the quality of thought. He was right for his time in the sense that in general people did not seem to be particularly interested in anything that required them to think, or indeed hold a qualified opinion. Blair captialised on this by making Brit Pop pronouncements that sounded good and then tailored his ideaology to them. It seems to me that he continues in this vein with his ten lessons. Taking his first lesson as an example of lazy thinking and saying something simply because it sounds good. I have to say that Governance per se is not a debate, it is a range of functions and activities. Implicit in Governance, amonsgst other things, are measures to guage performance against a set of defined criteria. Governance therefore is not “a debate about efficiency”, efficiency is one of the functions of Governance. Transparency is not a function it is a state or condition and as such is not an element of Governance. But it is a desirable element of Government.

    Frankly I have no idea what he is saying in most of his lessons.

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