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Can Mediator May Achieve An Accidental Victory?

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

One of the striking things about Prime Minister Theresa May in how her role as Prime Minister and particularly her dealings on Brexit is she has had to act like a mediator with all the competing factions within her own party, those of the opposition whose votes she may need to force a vote through in Parliament together those she has to negotiate with in Europe such as governments and the European Commission. 

Mediation/Negotiation Skills are brought to the fore.

Much talk has been about her supposed poor negotiation strategy(Chequers plan - viable?) and her demise has been predicted in media, colleagues and political opponents alike.

But she has not been fired yet.

Thus it is worth considering the following.

To Be A Successful Mediator You Do Not Have To Be Competent - It is highly open and unpredictable what is going to happen with the Brexit Negotiations and onwards but I have seen some incompetent lawyers and/or mediators secure perfectly satisfactory negotiations results. Sometimes successful outcomes happen despite the best or worst efforts of the mediators, the  negotiators, the lawyers and the parties. As long as Theresa May has not been sacked and people are still willing to talk to her irrespective of her abilities, she remains highly relevant. 

Resilience and Perserverence Count - Irrespective of any lack of competence of Prime Minister May, she has shown over the past two years character traits of determination and a willingness to serve. Fundamentally these character traits which help any mediator well in difficult negotiations may be what is keeping in place, not least of which due to what is going around her.

Sometimes You Are Blessed By Your Competing Interests - As mediator when you are dealing with complex negotiations sometimes you come across vested interests opposing what you are trying to do. It applies to Brexit negotiations as it has continued it has exposed negative traits throughout our politics and media -

  • Conservative politicians vying to be Prime Minister a/k/a Francis Urquhart in House of Cards. 
  • Remaining Labour politicians preventing the Speaker from being sacked as it suits their ends even if it conflicts them with their supposed working class values in the wake of a report criticising John Bercow's conduct with staff 
  • Supposed independent news media like BBC and Channel 4 actively undermining Brexit by its biased reporting 
  • Scottish Nationalists stirring the pot to create a new independence vote.

All these factors help Mediator May stay in power as it shows what she is dealing with and the potential alternatives. e.g She may be not be great but why give credence to these alternatives?  

Embrace Chaos

Sometimes mediators find themselves stuck in a position where they lose control and cannot see a positive outcome. The situation with Brexit is highly unusual because with the referendum vote there are so many unknown possibilities of what can and should happen. The apparent lack of contingency planning remains what is the biggest negotiation failure  by the Government as it has exacerbated fear of what is going to happen and weakened negotiation strategy. The only way through is to accept chaos as it stands and deal with it. ‚Äč

Focus Long Term 

Ultimately things will resolve themselves because they always do. Sometimes parties stumble on what turn out to be successful outcomes in the long term because there are forces with them. As my newspaper said this morning "Looking at the insurrection the EU faces on multiple fronts right now, from Italy to Eastern Europe the chances of it surviving in its current, integrationist form look increasingly remote. The manner of Brexit is for the moment all consuming, but in time may come to be seen as a legalistic irrelevance."