The Meerkat generation of politicians

Years ago I was trying to change the culture of a company to one with a business focus. One of the founders called me in despair one day complaining he could not compare our prices with those of our competitors as we all priced our product slightly differently. It was a moment of great pride to me – I was finally getting somewhere.

Mobile phone companies have been at it for years. You can get bundles, call family for free, get discounts for frequently called numbers, a nicer handset, shorter contract, etc. The main reason is to differentiate somehow between products which are actually completely the same. The package and its price makes the difference.

Well now it seems the politicians are failing to understand this. Of course the fact they have no idea what it means to run a business does not help. The leaders of the three main parties lack all distinguishing features. They look the same, they are the same age, the same gender and say the same kind of thing. They even all seem to lack personality, though Ed just looks terrified at the moment. Nick went to Cambridge instead of Oxford like the other two and Ed has not got married (yet) but just produces babies. Other than that – blandness galore!

The price difference for the political parties is in the policies, or policies which are being promised. Of course the policies Dave promised but does not want to deliver is subtly blamed on his new mate Nick. The policies Vince promised but cannot deliver are because of Nick’s new buddy Dave. The policies Ed participated in before were the fault of his brother David and he still looks too confused to make up new ones.

They all want to cut the deficit – difference is by how much and how quickly. Ed and his brother David want to do it more slowly as it will cost less jobs or so they think. Not a problem anyway as neither is likely to be in government anytime soon, if ever – by the time their party gets back into government it is likely they will both have been party leaders and have passed their sell-by dates as they describe their predecessors.

We even have consistency amongst the trio about who is to blame for the economic situation. It is the previous government, or the previous generation of politicians or the caravans in Mississippi. Perhaps it is even the bankers. They are completely consistent in that they were not to blame, not involved, knew better and would have done it all much better.

Of course it has nothing to do with the greed of their own generation and the one they are following, generations they are very much a part of. They, like me and unlike my grandparents and even parents, have not had to endure wars (ok Irak – but that is not in our back yard so …) or a depression. The risk is that they have not learned from it either and that is the real danger.

In Enterprise Britain we know that distinguishing your product, your brand, your company or even your price is very important to generate business. Dave, Nick and Ed, can you please give us something to choose from – even the Meerkats have given up you are so boring.

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