20 January 2010

The man who was never there

It is a fact of bureaucratic life: in every organisation, somewhere near the top, is a blithering incompetent. Somehow, he (for it is invariably a he) never gets found out; he blithely sails on, spreading confusion and despondency in his wake. When the unmentionable hits the fan, he is never there and never to blame. He cannot manage his way out of a paper bag but the big bosses seem oblivious. His underlings tear their hair out, the work does not get done properly; but the incompetent floats through life, unaware, unthinking and unpenalised.

Treneman in The Times writes:
Geoff Hoon is the man who was never there. He is like Macavity but not as much fun, for there is little of mystery, or indeed cattiness, about the man who was Defence Secretary for six years. Six years! Can it be? Can you be that important and yet be so very unimportant for six long years?
When I say that he wasn’t there, I mean it. He was asked if he was at a crucial meeting at Chequers just before Tony Blair met President Bush in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. “Actually I wasn’t,” he noted, “and I haven’t been able to establish
precisely why.”

As our American cousins say, go figure.

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