Archives for January 2024 | Josie Pagani



January 2024

Briefing to incoming government

Josie's Post column this week is a review the memoir from former UK Conservative cabinet minister Rory Stewart, Politics on the Edge. It's for new MPs and ministers getting back to work, and public servants who will" end their period of grieving for the government they voted for and begin to adapt to the government everyone else chose."

Read it if you are a former minister wanting to understand why it was so difficult to get things done. Or a new minister wanting to pull the levers, or a new MP hoping to work your way through the caucus ranks. Read it if you are a public servant wondering what ministers think of you.

To summarise his brutal insider account of broken politics, mafioso candidate selections, and “elective dictatorship”: one day you will have to choose your values or theirs.

Political parties conflate the interests of country with the interests of the party. The interests of the party are conflated with the interests of the leader. Principle is confused with the principal. Sticking up for your values against your leader or party is an attack on the tribe.

Read the rest here.

The backlash against ESG

Since the dawn of humanity, people have been trying to define what it means to be good. Financiers haven’t suddenly worked it all out. Great religions and political ideologies have risen and fallen attempting to resolve the source of moral virtue. We can’t agree on the source of ethics, let alone whose clerics are qualified to interpret divine insights.

I want to make the world a better, more equal place, stop greedy corporates from incinerating the planet, and uphold diversity in the workplace. Contestable ESG ethics are unlikely to achieve those goals. Extremely wealthy fund managers are not going to make inequality the ethical priority. The E in ESG has dominated because they have nothing to lose from focusing on the environment, while fair wages are going to be a harder boardroom discussion.

All of which explains the brewing backlash to ESG. The backlash is not a rejection of trying to make a difference, or of using your savings to promote worthwhile ends. It’s a backlash against trying to make morality a financial transaction, against seeing goodness and morality as reducible to a profit centre.

Read the column on The Post, here.

Get Email Updates