‘GLIB ~ and adjective, to perform with a natural, offhand ease, given to or characterized by fluency of speech or writing that often suggests insincerity, superficiality, or a lack of concern. Smooth; slippery: as, ice is glib.’
At an early stage of my public service career I learned two lessons which significantly influenced my subsequent behaviour.
The first sprang from a comment by my then chairman on our way to a Health Authority Board meeting called to persuade its members to authorise our plan to close two large psychiatric hospitals – Friern Barnet and Claybury – at a time when no one in the country had attempted such closures. The comment was very simple – “Lets do it Paul !” by which he meant no more talking about it – the stock in trade of all bureaucracies in this country – now is the time for action. And we did it .
The second came a couple of years later when I was addressing an audience about some project in East Anglia when a member of the audience commented that I was being very glib. I had never been called this before and I took it as a major criticism.
Little did I know then that a couple of years later I would spend a lot of time with local authority politicians as a councillor where glib was the lingua franca. Inevitably doing things rather than just talking about them I found to be disadvantage in my subsequent public health career ; and telling the truth in brief easy to understand terms was a death sentence for my planned political career.
These lessons came to mind when listening to the latest statements from government about the COVID 19 pandemic. These are without exception object lessons in the art of Glib and inaction. And to make matters worse there is no opposition to hold this government to account.
The only bright spots on the gloomy horizon are the Army which as usual rises to the occasion; and the obvious dedication and commitment of not only NHS and Care staff but many others too.
Our current politicians are in the main unworthy of these heroes and heroines who they pretend to represent. But will it ever be different ?