Today I am preparing for conference.
Tomorrow I will be joining the massed ranks of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool for our Autumn Federal Conference. What has been billed as our largest conference ever.
I had wanted to have completed a number of projects and have had some things prepared before conference began. The theory being that I could then make the most of the opportunities of the week and get more out of it. Of course I have finished none of these things. I haven’t even properly gone through the conference agenda.
I don’t know why this happens. Every year I tell myself that I will prepare well in advance, and then every year things turn out to be rushed. Physicists tell us that time is constant.* Physicists lie. It isn’t. It bends and contracts according to what is most inconvenient.
So, today I am preparing for conference.
* I know they don’t actually say that. They say that time bends with gravity. At least I think they do. But I thought it was a good line.
This was the view from front doorstep as I got in last night. A reminder of the natural beauty in the world.
Shame today’s weather hasn’t lived up to that promise.
Many people who I have worked with in politics over the years, and readers of my old blog, will know of my slight obsession with process and organisational structures. The simple, but often overlooked, fact that the processes by which organisations make decisions has a direct impact on the quality of those decisions and thus determines how well that organisation achieves the outcomes it has set for itself is something I am always keen to remind people of. So I was interested to spot this in the coverage of the extracts from Tony Blair’s memoir;
‘Blair writes of his earlier approach: “We were saying, forget about complex, institutional structural reforms; what counts is what works, and by that we meant outputs.
“This was fine as a piece of rhetoric; and positively beneficial as a piece of politics. Unfortunately, as I began to realise when experience started to shape our thinking, it was a bunkum as a piece of policy. The whole point is that structures beget standards. How service is configured affects outcomes.”‘
I’ve always argued that one of Blair’s great failures as a politician was his inability to understand how organisations and institutions worked. Partly I think this is due to his lack of interest in history and learning from history. Something that is unusual in a succesful politician. This lack of understanding hobbled his attempts at reform. It is a nice “I told you so” moment to see that he himself in part recognises this.