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Fighting the politics of fear

On the slaying of dragons and Brexit's headless chickens

St_Albans_Mummers_production_of_St_George_and_the_Dragon,_Boxing_Day_2015-7In business, we have a wealth of information available to us on leadership. From Harvard to Oxford there are tomes filled with guidance designed to develop those in leadership positions. Yet here we are. Brexit vote complete and a whole country is now 'steered' by a coop of headless chickens.

At a time when true leadership is vital, the UK parliament is peopled with buffoons and xenophobes fighting like rats in a sack for power and position rather than turning their attention to their job of serving the country and the people they represent. Cameron's last act - putting everything into a holding pattern and neatly avoiding triggering Article 50 - was probably the only thing he could do the morning after the results came through.

Wouldn't it have been tremendous if, at that point, his colleagues turned their attention to the good of the people, rather than immersing themselves in the machinations of a leadership battle, leaving the populace facing the ineptitude of  jumped-up journalist Johnson and the glacial Gove. As for the spectacle of Farage speaking at the EU Parliament - once again I had to step away from the keyboard for a while so as to not write in anger.  His behaviour, demeanour and words were utterly shameful and, wittingly, unwittingly or simply half-wittedly, echoing an infamous phrase attributed to Adolf Hitler.

The 'Leave' campaign presented the UK with a dragon. The beast was supposedly responsible for all the ills of the country and the suffering of the people and, once slain, all would be well in the kingdom. Pens would be drawn at the ballot boxes. At a stroke a new day would dawn. The beast, though mythical, was slain. But there were no knights to rally the people. Instead, the dubious and incompetent squires bickered their way into new battles of their own making and there they remain, squabbling, self-serving and divisive, ripping out the heart and cutting off the head of the country they were - and are - supposed to serve.

There isn't a single leader among them. Not one capable of stepping up to the mark and healing the bitter division that this process has caused. And it is the division, hatred and prejudice that this process has created that truly breaks my heart because those are the things that will take the longest to heal - scars that will take decades to fade.

A leader needs many qualities - listening, empathy, understanding, foresight, courage, wisdom and tenacity to name but a few. In business, leaders are nurtured, trained and the best of them understand they must learn continuously. The headless chickens of the Westminster coups say much, know little and apparently care less.

St George, a Syrian immigrant born of Greek parents who ended up a Roman soldier, was named England's patron saint by King Edward III in 1327. A patron saint is named not because they come from the country that chooses them but because they embody the characteristics the kingdom wants to project to the outside world. On current form, those in charge in the UK - and I use the term 'in charge' loosely - should perhaps take a moment to look at the legends and behaviours of this quintessentially 'English' saint who also stands as a nominal spiritual guard over other countries in Europe. Perhaps then they might realise that the characteristics they are currently presenting to the British people and the outside world belittle and shame us all.

*Image - wikicommons - Mummers  of St Albans enact St George and the Dragon