The politicians guide to handling a crisis
Lets face it we all love a good political crisis. Ever since the Romans stopped having gladiatorial combats, the public has had to satisfy a blood-lust somehow. As a result there is always something highly engaging about the murky world of political drama. While those involved do their utmost to avoid it, it still ends up being the kind of thing that gets their adrenalin going. Those who advise and work with politicians know that when you finally are out of the game it’s not the safe days you remember, no, it’s the crisis, the day the heat was turned up to the max. In years to come people will buy your book or listen to your stories in the pub due to those crisis moments.
Despite that it’s not pretty at the time. So how does a politician deal with such a problem? What happens when you put your foot in your mouth and they start calling for your head? Here are some of the steps that follow on this well trodden path:
1. Laugh it off. Yes, that’s it laugh, scoff at the reporter when she asks that question, smile broadly to show you are not in the least bit concerned. A gentle shake of the head and an exasperated slow blink, to underscore what a waste of yours and everyone elses time this is. Your colleagues fears will be calmed. The reporters will hopefully feel foolish and leave it at that.
2. The reasonable explanation. Alright, Ok, you don’t want to let this go. So I will get serious. Lets stay calm now lads, I’ll lay out the facts, raise my eyebrows as I speak, hold out the palms of my hands showing I’m open and honest. I’ll tell you it’s a storm in a teacup but accept you had some concerns, but now really, its time to move on.
3. Injured pride. Really? You are going to keep this up? Right, now I’m getting angry. I mean look at the state of the country, the amount of work we have to do and all you can ask me about is this! I am horrified and quite frankly insulted that anyone would suggest my motives were anything other than good. If you keep this up I’m going to be forced to do something about it.
4. Blame the media. It’s a circus, you are just filling column inches looking for a story where there is none. I have dealt with this and everyone is absolutely satisfied, only certain quarters of the media have their own agenda and want to discredit me. There is nothing to see here now move on, I’m banking on another problem for someone else taking the heat off me soon enough.
5. Share the blame. The problem still isn’t going away, questions continue. We may have a serious problem here. Its time to extend the blame circle, mention who else said and did what. Remind colleagues that my demise will damage the party, the leader, the brand. Ensure that everyone knows that if I go down anyone remotely connected to the issue is in trouble too and that there will be more questions asked. Be sure that the party knows it’s too late to stop backing me now without causing problems as to why they supported me in the first place.
6. Circle the wagons. They keep coming and most likely led now by a coalition partners backbenchers. Now it must become them and us an eye for an eye, a negotiation for support, what is their price? Play hardball roll out you strongest partisans to show you will not go quietly.
7. Deal with it. Right so, you want answers here it is. Another statement, but a better one, a longer one. A one that accepts some blame. I acknowledge the difficulties of my colleagues, I regret my actions and any errors. Is that enough? Are you happy now? Can we please move on? I need to tell you about all the difficult work I am doing and the tasks ahead for my colleagues, we do not need this distraction. Lets put it to rest. Oh and did I mention what a difficult time this has all been for me personally?
8. Stop reading NOW. Step 8 is never to be considered, everything possible must be employed to stop it. Ok…I’ll whisper it……Resign…..shhhhhh don’t say it too loud.
9. Write the book. Fine you got me. I’ll bide my time and in a few years it will be my turn to sell my side of the story, to tell what really went on and who exactly betrayed me. It will be serialised in a newspaper and I’ll emerge from hiding to put it all on the record. You may not like it , but hey it’s another part of the pension plan.