27 Dec Is this how Trump keeps his negotiating hand?
How to get round transparency? Hilary Clinton tried to by using a private email address, presumably her logic, if I don’t want this information to be in the public domain, if I want it free from prying eyes and FOI requests, then best to send it to a private address. Sadly this didn’t work, the tsunami of transparency being such her plan was washed aside and she was caught out. One can only guess what were in those emails – maybe she didn’t want people to see her logic and have her thought processes revealed or perhaps that she didn’t have any answers to the problems at hand and was requesting support. Nothing wrong in that, but if you are revealing limitations and vulnerabilities, who wants other people knowing a potential President’s Achilles heel?
Watching Donald Trump I suggest he’s taking a very different tack to avoid this type of scrutiny. For such a businessman I suggest this kind of transparency, particularly of the way you operate and think, would be viewed as creating an unnecessary vulnerability and one he wouldn’t want to create.
So, in order to keep inner thoughts secret in this age of transparency what do you do? I suggest contradictory announcements or tweets so people don’t know what you’re thinking, allowing you to keep a level of unpredictability and to play your cards close to your chest.
I’ve watched with interest Donald Trump move from Democrat donor to Republican President-elect; listened to his eclectic policy announcements equally at home in either party – reduce red tape, reduce tax rates, increase infrastructure spend; seen the markets rise on these announcements – though interestingly I’ve heard the rise described as high but hollow as people and the markets work out which way the President-elect is turning.
The one thing his conflicting tweets do (in one of his latest, whilst purporting to be a special friend to the UK he’s advising European countries to take advantage of the Brexit hiatus in the UK) is to cause confusion among the media and his observers, which in turn allows him to remain ‘unreadable’ and to buy time.
Looking back to this side of the pond, this unpredictability could be precisely what this government needs for the biggest negotiations of a lifetime. That’s why it should concerns us when opposition MPs are demanding to know so much from Theresa May about the government’s stance on the Brexit negotiations – which in turn will weaken her bargaining position and negotiating hand. Whilst I fully agree with parliamentary sovereignty, democracy and transparency, we need to ask in this instance, when the country has voted to leave the EU, when MP’s voted 6:1 to have a referendum and when the issue is debated almost daily in the House of Commons, do we really need to know what our government’s best negotiating hand is? And what its key arguments for the negotiations are?
Donald Trump is managing to bypass this level of unhelpful transparency by posting conflicting tweets, confusing messaging and contradictory appointments. Genius. He is quite literally playing his trump card so when the time comes he can enter a negotiating room pretty much unreadable. And any negotiator who wants the best outcome for themselves, their business or in this instance their country will tell you that’s the best way to walk into that room.