Powerless

I haven’t been blogging since the return of aircraft to the skies over Europe, partly because the superstitious side of me (yes it is there, however latent) didn’t want to hope too soon about the availability of flights out of the UK, given my forthcoming trip back to Oz in less than a month.  But mostly I haven’t been blogging because I have been busy with client work: a good way to be, as I keep reminding myself.

But this whole incident of the closure of UK airspace, combined with news stories about the 70th anniversary of The Blitz in London, and much rhetoric about a hung parliament in the next UK election has got me thinking about our power to influence our on destinies.

As a political enthusiast, I am a true believer of our power to influence opinion and policy.  I have done enough political lobbying myself to believe that action brings results.  I’m also living and working as an immigrant in the UK, and as anyone who has been through the Tier 1 General application procedure for a Skilled Worker will attest, you have to believe that what you put yourself through is worth all the effort.  And, to be absolutely fair, I have found my experiences of working here very rewarding and profoundly empowering.

But I’m also acutely aware that circumstances can leave us feeling very disempowered.  The recent situation with the closure of airspace left many people angry and upset and the financial repercussions of the incident are likely to be far reaching, including the bankruptcy of some airlines.  What’s galling to both passengers and companies is that the ash cloud did not clear, enabling the reopening of airspace. Instead, the minimum safety standards were raised to higher levels of ash content in the air, so airspace could be reopened.  It was not a force majeur (Act of God) that returned power to the airlines and to passengers to change their fate. It was a review of safety standards.

Of course the review came about because questions were asked about the logic of NATS and Met Office standards.  So to some extent, the influence of the airlines (power) came in to play in the decision making process.  But for the vast majority of individuals and businesses negatively affected by the closure, it must have seemed like being utterly powerless.

I suspect that the same sense of powerlessness may indeed be the result of the forthcoming election in the UK.  The prospect of a hung parliament looms ever closer, and the parties have all expressed their unwillingness to work either with each other or with particular identities in the case of a hung parliament.   Petty squabbles and personality politics are already overshadowing actual policy and where people are paying attention to policy, I’m dismayed to note that people are considering voting for a party on the basis of a single issue, rather than taking in to account all policies on a party’s ticket.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for recognising minority interests in political decision making, and I know some minority governments that have been remarkably successful.  I just think that at a ‘federal’ level, that the balance of power being split among several parties may indeed slow the progression of bills through parliament and young business and the technology sector generally are likely to be hit by delays on ‘green light’ legislation that would encourage growth.  Instead, big business will be able to engage with deals for representatives from the minor parties to vote in favour of their interests.

This kind of politics may seem exciting and may appear on the surface to provide opportunities for the exercise of power, but just like the seismic activity over in Iceland, my sense is that it is a lot of rumbling and even possibly some pretty worrying eruptions, but in the end, no-one is going to benefit from the resulting shut down in investment as a result of an unstable political environment, and indeed, some new prospects make suffer badly as a result.

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