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Why being decisive helps in the world of politics

I DON'T know whether to laugh or cry.

What I might do is draw up a list of the pros and cons of each option, then decide at a later date. That's the main reason why I'll never become Prime Minister. There are other reasons. I don't like public - or any other kind of - speaking. I believe we should all try to get along. And when I feel the hand of history on my shoulder, I believe it has come to arrest me. Probably on a charge of dithering.

Yes, dithering is the big no-no. Sure, it's the big don't know if you're a practitioner, but it's the big no-no if you want to be PM of Britainshire.

In a shock survey of 158 Westminster MPs, decisiveness emerged as the most important trait for a PM, ahead of principles, honesty or intelligence. How appalling.

Decisive people have ever been the main cause of the world's problems. If Hitler had dithered more, the 20th century might have been spared his awful horrors. "Painter or dictator? Hmm, tricky one. On the one hand, there's the cost of the paint and having to wear a smock …"

The same survey, by the University of Londonshire, found MPs rating Margaret Thatcher as the most successful PM "like, ever". That tells its own story. And here's how it ends: with the green ootside the Hoose o'Commons covered in emergency tents containing platoons of psychiatrists.

If yon Thatcher had been less decisive we might have liked her more. Particularly if she'd decided not to get involved in politics in the first place.

Gordon Brown came bottom of the same poll, probably because he gave the impression he didn't know what he was doing. A typical Broon speech ran: " … as the actress said to the bishop. Ha-ha. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I will be decisive. Make no mistake about that. I'll be decisive all right, in the fullness of time, all other things being equal, given the right Tarot cards and as long as it is prudent - ken? - sorry, I mean: don't you know? Anyway, here's another one: this monkey went into a bar, right … "

OK, I added the jokes to imbue him with personality, but you get the picture. Picture now the amiable, tweedy bumbler Sir Harold Macmillan, who beat Broon by a mile, probably because at least he knew when the game was up, as with his acknowledgement of the belch of change blowing across Africa.

But, really, what does this tell us about our MPs? I'll tell you what it tells you, madam: that they are snivelling cowards, lacking the courage to face the mental agony of dithering.

Their motto is: any decision, as long as it's quick. You all know people like this: manly, bulging of eye, pointing the way forward just as the floor gives way and swallows up everyone in the room. They're a disaster.

The weak among us are tempted to behave similarly. We all know the feeling of relief on making a decision. It's the relief of running away from a dilemma by refusing to think about it any more.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not against making decisions. Eventually. I'm just in favour of more thought. Thought hurts the brain, and decisiveness short-circuits the pain. It's the coward's way out. It's for the mentally lazy, for men of action with a tendency towards moustache-wearing.

Sometimes they disguise their moustaches by going clean shaven. Remember when Tony Blair and George Bush Jr used to do that big-shouldered walk towards the cameras? You knew a Big Decision was coming and cowered behind the couch invoking the motto of Scotia Minor: "Aw naw."

Even without decisiveness, whither honesty, principles, intelligence? Surely, the running order should be: honesty, principles, intelligence, haircut, decisiveness.

But while the first three stand before the winners' tape dithering, decisiveness comes breenging through to claim the trophy.

No one has defended politicians against the people more than this word-hurler. They are not as other men. They are gods in pinstripes, heroes with expense accounts.

But I sit before you today, aghast at this revelation of their priorities. Accordingly, after much thought, I have arrived at a decision. Laugh.

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Local government

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