If he can’t find the qualities of leadership that take us to justice for the invisible half million…

Someone who can

The nurses are balloting and the doctors and paramedics are about to kick-off, again.

Maybe, it is enough to say local arrangements will give me a Xmas Day service. No one means me any harm. Things are bad and making them worse for a couple of days is all part of making them better…

… suck it up.

Tell that to the invisible half a million bounced off NHS waiting lists as a result of the previous strikes.

Dumped out of the queue. Not like they were in a line choosing chips, cod or hake. They’re queuing because they have no choice. Queueing because of their clinical need.

What will happen to them? Who knows. We can guess, for many and their families, it will not end well.

The well rehearsed argument…

… strikers are left with no option. ‘What else can we do…’ they plead’. We’re on strike because HMG won’t listen, it’s all their fault.

The moral arguments surrounding the notion of doing something bad because someone else is doing something bad, typically revolve around the principles of;

• moral relativism,
• moral responsibility
• and the concept; ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’

Moral Relativism: moral judgments are relative to individuals or their cultural perspectives. Education, upbringing, experience of life.

An action may be considered morally acceptable in one context but not in another.

One set of behaviours, set against someone else’s? If someone else is engaging in morally objectionable behaviour, can it justify our own engagement in similar behaviour?

Strikers say it can.

When the great day of judgement comes, each is accountable for our own actions, regardless of the actions of others. Ouch!

Moral Responsibility: emphasises the importance of personal moral agency and accountability.

It suggests that individuals have a duty to act morally, regardless of the actions of others.

Doing something because someone else is doing the same or worse, might be seen as an abdication of moral responsibility. As individuals we should strive to make moral choices for ourselves.

Whilst each of us is a product of our nurture, nature and moral code, organisations such as the GMC, NMC, BMA, RCN representing aggrieved workers, struggle with their corporate, moral responsibility.

That’s why they tiptoe a careful path around the legality of strikes and individual employment rights…

… versus the moral responsibility all clinicians have ‘to do right by their patients’ and at the same time, hang on to their registrations.

Organisations produce codes-of-ethics that are meaningless for their members and frankly, the public.

They all say, in terms, you can walk out of the workplace but it’s your responsibility to ensure no one gets harmed in the process and if they do, it’s down to you.

Indeed the RCN standing orders (3.3) go so far as to say;

‘…The Council will not authorise any form of industrial action unless satisfied that such form will not be detrimental to the wellbeing or interests of patients or clients.’

‘Wellbeing’… it’s tough to square that with the 500,000 bounced off waiting lists during the strikes.

Can ‘two wrongs’ ever add up to one ‘right’.

The unions will argue the neglected state of the NHS is the result of political mismanagement and wilful failure.

Striking will help repair it.

They go further; politicians refusing to talk about terms and conditions, without preconditions, they say, is immoral obduracy.

Moral equivalence is a form of equivocation and a fallacy of relevance.

Both sides of this argument are wrong, yet both sides are right. Neither have virtue on their side.

Unions want to hammer home a political message of solidarity. Show members how resolved they are.

They’re worth the membership.

Government want to show the electors, how tough and determined they are.

They’re worth the votes.

Strength and toughness will serve no one, least of all the invisible half million.

Sense and thoughtfulness might just.

There is a forth dimension: moral leadership… guided by ethical principles and values.

Moral leaders prioritise the well-being of others, act with integrity and make decisions based on what’s right, rather than expedient.

We can’t expect Bully-Boy to turn into Mandela or at a stretch, Malala or Martin Luther King but I do think we could expect him to have concern for the greater good and a willingness to be statesmanlike.

Rise above the squabbles and posturing. Show some maturity to do what only he can do and we all know he will do in the end… talk.

If he can’t find the qualities of leadership that take us to justice for the invisible half million…

… Sunak should find someone who can.