I’m not Tony Blair

Yesterday at the Labour Conference Ed Miliband made the announcement that He’s not Tony Blair.  This morning, I witnessed Ed Miliband being questioned by BBC Breakfast on that statement. There’s many reasons why it was important to make that statement, but I think one was missing from the BBC breakfast debate this morning.

A few years ago, I stepped in to do an interim position for a couple of months whilst the post was recruited to. Everwhere I went, I was introduced as “This is the new Dave”.   Even the CEO, who greeted me on the first day with “You’re the new Dave. He’s a hard act to follow”.

At first, I played along with it, as it meant that people easily understood what I had been contracted to do.  However, things came to a head one day when I was sitting with the Chair of  Staff Side (the Unions).  We were trying to find a pragmatic way through a difficult employee issue:

Chair:  “I hear what you’re saying, but if Dave was here, we would have done it this way.”

Me: “But I’m not Dave”

Chair: “No…..but one day you have the potential to be like Dave”.

In another time and place, I would have taken that comment as a compliment.  I had known Dave for years, but not well.  We had crossed paths many times and I had been able to follow the work he had done and talk to him about particular issues that we were all facing.   In my opinion, he was then and he still is one of the best HR practitioners in the NHS in London.

HR, like politics, is an intangible discipline.  There’s more than one right way to do it.   Different HR practitioners have different strengths and skills.  We use this to our advantage to get successful results, and we all will take a slightly different approach.  That is what I was trying to get across to my staff-side colleague that day.   I was proposing a different approach to Dave, one that I felt I could successfully achieve.

So when Ed Miliband is claiming he isn’t Tony Blair, it’s not because he doesn’t value, respect those that have gone before him.   It’s because he’s trying to establish his own identity, his own way of doing things in a manner that he feels will yield results.

Please note, this post does not represent in any way my views on politics.  It is merely an observation on a statement made by a politician.

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