Thursday, January 11, 2007

Is Labour and Parliament facing a talent crunch

It used to be the Conservatives who had an aging party - where everyone had been involved in government at some time or other. But now as the current NuLabour administration limps from crisis to crisis - losing bodies along the way and with Gordon Brown no doubt wanting to savage the careers of some Blairites Labour must be running short of people who are half way competent to run a government.

Of course they have the disadvantage that joining the Labour party shows a lack of rational ( and ultimately compassionate ) thought. Instead you have emotional ideologues - but without much talent. The impending loss of more ministers such as Ruth Kelly and the liar liar pants on fire junior home office ministers is just making this problem more difficult.

I used to be very attached to parliamentary democracy - with ministers sitting in parliament - but you have really got to wonder if with career politicians become the norm for all parties if the talent pool isn't a bit shallow. (And with the loans for peerages scandal the Lords isn't looking as good as it used to - elections to the Lords will thin the talent pool even further.)

The impact of a professional civil service is undermined by 'special advisors' ( wanabee career politicians ). And we pay for this shambles with our money, country and lives.

We should be thinking of reform. Problem is those who need to do the reform will be losing their chance at ministerial salaries and pensions, and how likely are they to vote for that.

Professional politicians are looking more and more like parasites these days - who are sucking too much out of their host.

Just a few thoughts for a windy Thurs. My posts are going to be a bit less frequent for the next few weeks - away traveling and getting work done.


The Shaved Ape said...

This is slightly off topic...

How do you feel about the House of Lords, specifically the inherited seats?

I was appalled when I first heard about that. It's seems undemocratic for a legislator to inherit his position.

It may be my American upbringing. I don't know. We're taught that kings and aristocratic classes are evil. We do have some aristocratic dynasties here, of course, like the Kennedies, Bushes, and Clintons, but we really don't like it.

Man in a shed said...

The house of Lords is much like a bumble bee ( don't know if you have them in California - but I'm going to be there for a day or two next week so I'll look out ! ).

When you look at it you say "No - that's just wrong !". But it flies anyway and just works. The house of Lords used to work largely with the hereditary principal - which has its good points. People are effectively chosen at random (good), but have similar backgrounds (bad).

More recently Lords are appointed - ( the question of whether Tony Blair's Labour party sold peerages in exchange for loans is the subject of a police investigation at the moment ). This system means that the great and the good - or at least the rich and influential - get appointed. Generally only the good turn up most of the time as the rich people have better things to do.

The problem with elected representatives in these days of political science and voter psychology is that all we get are the most accomplished con-men(&women) to run the country ( ie Tony Blair). My point is that this by no way guarantees the required talent to run the executive of a government.

This is perhaps a major advantage of the American system of splitting powers and having a more professional executive manned by people who the President thinks will do a good job (you just need a President smart enough to hire talent), instead of whoever doesn't drool in public from the minor celebrities that get elected as MP's in the UK. ( I'm being over harsh to make a point - many of our MPs are good, educated and principled - but the system is now working to make sure there are going to be fewer of them and more token female, lesbian and whatever minority has a sizeable vote and a grudge ism. *It should be pointed out that the two groups don't correlate - Mrs Thatcher is my personal political hero, but she got there on raw talent - and a clever election campaign to be leader, not favours or social engineering ).

I should say that being an MP, or trying to be one, is no picnic. And its a mistake to beat up on those people who are willing to stick their necks out and stand for office, but the system is working to change the type of people who do that and not necessarilty for the better.

In the end we, int he UK, need a better way of manning our executive.

The Shaved Ape said...

I appreciate the explanation.

It's good that the system works well enough, with the understanding that there's always room for improvement. There is that "wow" factor though, of people leading a nation who haven't been elected.

My major critique of U.S. politics is the strangehold of the two-party system. We do have alternatives, such as the Libertarians (3rd-largest party), but they have no power, and no chance to increase power. We have Democrats, which are "for the people" and "for the common man", and Republicans, who are pro business and for smaller government. But each has elements I don't like.