Categorised | Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems |

MPs, are they fit for purpose?

If you have ever wondered why so many government departments are in a mess, then you probably don’t have to look much further than the man or woman in charge. Ask yourself whether they are fit for purpose. If you visit MP’s websites, you will note that many are bereft of any detail regarding their past experience, in other words, before they entered parliament. Some may have had experience in senior management and others run a business, but by and large, my straw pole indicates that few have experience either.

My question is, should members of parliament, with little or no experience, be placed in charge of huge departments and labour forces? One minute they are trundling the street begging you for votes and the next they are running some of the biggest organisations in the country (in terms of budget, headcount etc). One or two may even be running departments which determine our civil liberties, even though the MP’s have little business, or for that matter, life experience. Little wonder that our civil liberties have been steadily eroded.

Could anyone imagine Barclays Bank appointing a postman and telling him to start running the business with little or no relevant experience? You know, “don’t worry mate, you can learn on the job”. Ridiculous isn’t it? But what is the difference? Would Unilever appoint a new CEO, who has a total of 7 years ‘commercial’ experience as the deputy head of the Inflation Report Division at the Bank of England and an economic writer on The Guardian Newspaper? Yet this person now runs a department with 20,000 staff and a budget of £14bn.

The problem must start when the local constituencies select their prospective member of parliament. What criteria do they use to determine who to select, is it because their face fits, they are mates with the constituency chairman, a determined party ‘activist’ or some other banal reason? Once elected, they could end up in a junior government post, or even in the cabinet. So how does the prime minister decide who is going to get which post? Experience suggests, that more often than not, the ‘plum’ posts are offered as a reward, rather than based on experience.

Yes I accept, that ministers heading government departments will receive advice and guidance from experienced civil servants, but surely that is not the point? Members of Parliament, if they are being paid to run a department, need to add value. Lets face it, when they talk at the public, they do so as if they are experts in their field and how many of us actually question their qualifications and ability to judge the issues they are covering?

No system is perfect, but surely we can do better than this? Surely the public have a right to know what level and type of experience our members of parliament have? Why do so many MP’s rarely publish their pre-politics careers, are they worried that the public may be concerned at their relative lack of experience? None of us would be able to secure a job without a CV. Why shouldn’t MP’s, that work for the public, be compelled to publish a detailed account of their past experience, which is then open to the public. Then, perhaps, when they make a statement, we can make a judgement as to whether they are properly qualified to make such a statement or if they are just acting as a mouthpiece for some faceless civil servants.

Yes, I am questioning the very basis on which our MP’s are selected and our government is run, but just because that is the way it has always been, does not mean that it should continue to be so. Progress requires and top to bottom review of systems, processes and protocols, if we determine that the current system is better than the alternatives, then so be it, if not, then we should seek to make changes. 

Perhaps if our members of parliament had not screwed us for more and more tax, then squandered so much of this income, or they had not attempted to turn this country into a police state by eroding our civil liberties, we would be less inclined to ask such impertinent questions, such as are they qualified for the job? But they do, they have and they are.

John Demitriou, on his excellent blog Boatang & Demitriou offers a noteworthy and thought provoking series of suggestions to the problems that we are facing, specifically Politic’s isn’t working and I couldn’t agree more.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. willyhoops Says:

    In 430BC the brash wealthy democracy of Athens went to war with the old fashioned kingdom of Sparta. Although Athens had become the most powerful city-state in Ancient Greece her democratic system was being increasingly criticised. Many felt that Athens had deteriorated and was embracing increasingly populist policy. Much of her wealth was extracted from her neighbours whom she was accused of treating unfairly. Sparta, although insular and much less wealthy, was respected for retaining the old fashioned Greek values, such as idealism and virtue, which the citizens of Athens were accused of lacking. When Athens fell to Sparta many rejoiced and her downfall was said to have been supported and predicted by the Gods.

    Explaining the fall of Athens, which occurred in spite of its vast wealth, the Athenian historian Thucydides wrote:

    Pericles indeed, by his rank, ability, and known integrity, was enabled to exercise an independent control over the multitude–in short, to lead them instead of being led by them; for as he never sought power by improper means, he was never compelled to flatter them, but, on the contrary, enjoyed so high an estimation that he could afford to anger them by contradiction. Whenever he saw them unseasonably and insolently elated, he would with a word reduce them to alarm; on the other hand, if they fell victims to a panic, he could at once restore them to confidence. In short, what was nominally a democracy became in his hands government by the first citizen. With his successors it was different. More on a level with one another, and each grasping at supremacy, they ended by committing even the conduct of state affairs to the whims of the multitude… [many blunders then led to defeat]

    In 2008 Sparta is China and the Peloponnesian War is economic competition. Thankfully it will all be over soon…

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  1. Are we being served? « The Bleeding Heart Show Says:

    […] at the newish blog Power To The People, FrustratedVoter wonders why our MPs and ministers seem such an unimpressive, barely-competent bunch: The problem must start […]

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