Mal Fletcher comments on the quality of political leadership in the Brexit process.

Mal Fletcher
Mal Fletcher

"Political language," wrote George Orwell, "is designed to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

Though many of us will relate to Orwell's sentiment, we hope that on most big ticket issues politicians will eventually break with the rhetoric to get something done.

Sometimes, however, when deadlines real or imagined approach, we can underestimate the role of political rhetoric, missing altogether its function in floating potentially contentious ideas.

In the UK, caught up as we are in the twists and turns of the Brexit process, too many of us are looking for politicos who might give us the "happy ever after" speech.

In recent weeks, speech after voluminous political speech has left many people aching for a much more definitive statement about our national end-game.

This is understandable. After all, top-tier politicians are supposed to set a lead for the future, not merely manage the moment.

True leadership articles vision, prepares strategy and marshals activity, with an infectious sense of positive intent.

The best leaders can inspire us to endure great uncertainty when we need to, because they also point to the sun-lit uplands on the other side of the valley.

Perhaps this is part of the reason for the massive UK success of The Darkest Hour, the filmic story of Churchill's premiership during part of World War II.

The movie reminds us that, in the not-too-distant-past, Britain has produced leaders who prefered not to sit on fences. Leaders who were capable of providing a narrative for the future, even if it was one that offered nothing by "blood, toil, tears and sweat".

However, negotiations on something as momentous as Brexit were always going to be messy and frustrating for all concerned.

The notion that Britain has become too entangled in the EU's multitudinous regulations and myriad internal powerplays was a key factor for many in their vote to leave the Union.

Yet this is now a major contributor to the messiness of the negotiation process and the sometimes clumsy and woolly-headed statements from those charged with delivering Brexit.

Extricating a country like the UK from rules and a philosophy which apply to so many other nations is surely mind-crunchingly difficult.