Thursday, December 04, 2008

Delay Tactics: Do They Work?

Delay tactics! From children to adults, businesses and politicians, they are widely used, and for good reason; they work. There are two great reasons to use delay tactics, listed here:

1) Annoyance. Human nature expects things to happen quickly. If you want to annoy someone, delay getting them something they've asked for. "Johnny, take out the garbage." "In a minute, Mom!"

2) Time. The basis of delaying... using up time before taking action. This has two effects. First, after a period of time, an important issue can become less so. What may have seemed like a big deal at one time can be replaced by something new. The second is that time fades both memory and interest. People forget about things, or get bored of them, especially if it becomes obvious that pursuing the issue further isn't going to be worth the time.

So, we have our basic definition and uses, and some basic examples. Let's look at a recent political application! We have a situation in Canada where the opposition parties are threatening to vote down the current government and install themselves in their place as a coalition. This is all legal according to the constitution of course, and without intervention, Monday would have arrived and the vote would have taken place.

However, this morning, Prime Minister went to see the Governor General to ask that the current session of the Parliament be suspended until sometime in January. This request has been approved, which makes the scheduled confidence vote on Monday impossible. A prime example of delay tactics.

The question is, will it work? Let's take it back to my two points earlier. Surely this will annoy the opposition party leaders to no end. To come within days of grasping power only to be delayed by a month is surely frustrating. Then we come to time, the more important factor. What will happen over the next few weeks? Will the importance of this power struggle diminish? Possibly. Politics change from day to day, so who knows. More interesting though, it could give the opposition parties enough time to start fighting amongst themselves leading to a collapse of the coalition effort. Or they could be pressured by their voters to back down.

Come January, the inevitable may still take place. Or we might be surprised by some new tactic. However, it will have provided much entertainment on the part of many eager news watchers, as well as an example of delay tactics on a large scale.

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