PR train wreck in slow motion… revisited

When reading present Immigration Minister Fahy’s comments in the paper from a short while ago I’m reminded of some words of a now departed friend.  Julian Hall once deemed then Immigration Minister Colonel Burch a “PR train wreck in slow motion” because of his approach to handling issues.  It would seem Minister Fahy is at risk of following in his predecessors footsteps.

I said it of the UBP and I think it holds true for the OBA, they’re great at policy, bad at politics.  The combative approach of Colonel Burch certainly didn’t do the PLP any favors when it came to managing public perceptions.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with and support many of the policy moves Minister Fahy is making, I just don’t agree with how he’s going about it.

Senator Fahy said he “will not back down” on Throne Speech promises, even unpopular ones.

Mr. Fahy is the Minister and it’s his right to decide how he wants to handle things, but I think these sorts of statements will land him and his party in a lot of hot water.  It makes him come across as defensive, stubborn and arrogant and having met Senator Fahy in person, I doubt that’s his intention.

One of the big things many people were fed up with about the PLP was their absolute refusal to change course despite all evidence that we were headed down the wrong path.  They were stubborn and arrogant at times and it cost them in the end.  There’s nothing wrong with going through with a decision that you feel is right even if it’s unpopular.  There are undoubtedly many times when this may be the case.  There is something wrong with not being willing to always consider alternative points of view, being willing to revise your stance based upon new information and admit you’re wrong.  I think that’s what many had hoped to see different about the OBA’s style of governance and we’re not seeing that in the approach to immigration.  Certainly, do what you believe is necessary, just don’t be so stubborn as to imply you’ll ram it down our throats with no willingness to revise your stance if new and contrary information arises.

“I have got broad shoulders — I can take it,” he added.

Minister Fahy might say so, but he’s getting overly defensive and combative which suggests that he’s struggling with it.  It reminds me of my days as a bouncer when I learned that most people are all talk.  They’ll get right up in your face, yell and do what they can to provoke you but most are just putting on a show trying to look tough.  Often times I could stand my ground, nose to nose, and calmly but firmly explain the situation, explain my understanding of their point of view and then explain the point of view of the club.  It’s hard for you to make a case justifying your actions because someone disrespected you when you willingly disrespect the establishment.  Most often I could talk someone out of the club rather than physically having to throw them out.  Mind you, these were back in the days when it was unheard of for someone to try to smuggle a knife or a machete into the club, but I digress.

I get a sense that Minister Fahy means well, but he’s allowing the wealth of negative feedback and pushback he’s getting to get the best of him, kind of like those bouncers who would resort to violence when someone got in their face.  There’s definitely merit to that approach in some cases as sometimes people are unreasonable.  In other cases it can be valuable to establish a sense of respect between you and your clientèle because that way you’re more likely to avoid an issue the next time that person looks to visit your establishment.  It simply isn’t worth having people develop grudges, anger and resentment with the intention to settle scores with you.  That’s how you end up with discontent which can flourish and ruin your establishment.

Minister Fahy is new and is taking on a great many unenviable challenges and a great deal of hard work.  He certainly deserves some leeway as he finds his own.  I just hope he comes to realise that a combative approach will breed resentment, distrust and anger which will just lead to worse situations when the next issue arises.