Martin Whitlock - political writings 2001-2004

Home - politics - power

Knowing when to quit

2 August 2004

In 1997 the British people wanted a new politics, but the failed gestures of the intervening seven years have brought them back to precisely the disillusioned state from which they sought to escape at that time.


Out of all proportion

19 July 2004

Society is complicated, and a legislature split between two dominant parties presents a bogus polarity in which those complications are unrepresented.


Squeezing the nation

28 June 2004

Mr Blunkett's ill-judged decision to try to bounce Humberside Police Authority into suspending their chief constable is a symptom of a deeper malaise at the national tier of government.


With all due respect

24 May 2004

Al Qaida and Fathers 4 Justice may be a very far cry indeed from one another, but they occupy, nonetheless, two places in a continuum of political failure.


Abuse, but in good faith

10 May 2004

Politicians who wring their hands at the abuse practised by their forces in Iraq should remember where the abuse started - with a false prospectus for war created out of spinning and deception.


A reckless report

2 February 2004

Lord Hutton has treated the government with a care that he has not extended to the BBC. But, whereas prime ministers come and go, the BBC has a fixed place in the firmament, and any long term damage inflicted upon it by his lordship's failure of understanding will have consequences for us all.

Finding reverse gear

8 December 2003

At the onset of hubris, can schadenfreude be far behind? But it's not too late for Tony Blair to acknowledge that his Labour critics have a point of view, too.

The admirable Mr Dingemans

29 September 2003

British politics is drowning in a culture of confrontation where reason and objectivity have little place. The Hutton enquiry shows that there can be another way.

The emperor's new clothes

15 September 2003

When everybody around the prime minister knows what he wants to hear, objectivity is the first casualty.

Feeling for the truth

25 August 2003

The September dossier on WMD was not so much a balanced judgement as the case for the prosecution. Where in Downing Street were the people making the case for the other side?

The limits of power (3)

28 July 2003

Power lies in the ability to get things right. A decision is not right because the decision-maker is powerful, but because the process of reaching it has been effective. That requires openness to the truth, not managed information.

The limits of power (2)

21 July 2003

Information is only as good as the assessment that is made of it, but an assessment does not itself make the information true. No amount of power can make it true, either.

The limits of power (1)

14 July 2003

True power consists not in the exercise of force but in the ability to bring about the desired outcome. It is always easier to start something than to control where it goes.

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