1. Exquisite Tweets from @Nicolas_Colin

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    1/ People who think they can reinvent the state make me laugh.

    In countries such as the UK or France, the state is a social construct that was thousands of years in the making.

    economist.com/britain/2020/0…

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    2/ When it comes to the state, there are two things that you cannot do.

    First, you cannot rebuild it from the ground.

    That's the curse of developed countries.

    We used to be best in class (in some cases we still are), but we can't get rid of what we have.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    3/ Second, you can't radically change the state from the margins.

    Cummings thinks he can change the state because he thinks he's at the top.

    But even at the top, you're merely at the margins.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    4/ What he'll end up with is paying consultants millions of pounds a year to come up with consultant stuff.

    It's already visible in the article: "Once Britain has left the EU, the number of departments is reportedly due to be cut".

    Well, read this πŸ‘‡

    europeanstraits.substack.com/p/enough-with-…

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    5/ Remember Gall's law: "A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system."

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    6/ Also remember that the relationship between politics and government is the oldest and toughest question in political science.

    Each country solved it (more or less) with its own culture and came up with its own institutions. The British didn't do that bad. They are still good.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    7/ Cummings has a Prometheus complex. Hence, he will fail (or rather end up with consultants doing consultant stuff, which is the same).

    Here's a recent example of another guy who thought he could reshape everything by himself and failed πŸ‘‡./.

    theatlantic.com/magazine/archi…

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    8/ Extract from the "Rove Presidency" article πŸ‘‡

    Really, you should read the whole thing. Mark Hanna was a possibility in the late 19th-century US because the state was so small at the time.

    Today the state is huge. You can trim it down all you want, it will remain so.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    9/ Like any strategist, you need to embrace constraints: accept that the state is huge and leverage its size and power to achieve your goals.

    That's what the Chinese Communist Party does. The Chinese don't have a problem with the state being huge. Cc @kaifulee @danwwang

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    10/ State-hating revolutionaries always end up in that corner: they refuse to embrace bureaucracy as a constraint, thus they renounce its power.

    One outcome of Brexit will be that the British state gets even bigger, because it needs to take over from the EU in so many fields.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    11/ @antonyslumbers replies that Cummings, unlike Rove, has worked in government.

    However, he's always worked as a "special advisor" of sorts, which means the guy that's shouting at bureaucrats and trying to maintain exclusive access to the minister.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    12/ That's not government. Government is about implementation and delivery, not power plays at the top.

    Tony Blair understood that delivery was critical, hence Michael Barber's Delivery Unit. But it took a pro-government Labour politician, which is very unlike Boris Johnson.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    13/ Also I investigated the Delivery Unit on behalf of the French Government in 2006-2007.

    The key finding as to why it worked was that Blair imposed strict discipline from the top down, leading by example.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin

    14/ What that means is:
    β€’ He (almost) never missed a meeting, always arrived on time.
    β€’ Was perfectly briefed and entirely focused.
    β€’ Listened intently so as to take action.
    β€’ Gave clear instructions both to the unit and to the cabinet.

    Also very, very unlike Boris Johnson.

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    Nicolas_Colin

    Nicolas Colin