Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Lesson of HMRC and UK Treasury incompetence

This is the central problem of modern British politics: too many kid politicians who have never had any experience outside of politics. Both Brown and Cameron and most of their respective front benches are people who have no understanding of even the first principles of management. They literally know nothing about it. The professionalisation of politics has created machine pols with limited life experience and poor administration skills.

Meanwhile the machinery of government is being required to do more and more difficult and complex things. The result is a recipe for disaster. Without major simplification of administration and the constitution it is hard to avoid the idea that government will grow more alienated from the people it purports to represent and that administration will deliver more and more foul ups on this scale.

This is a disaster for Labour, but the implications are as much constitutional as they are party political, in my view. The fact is that a Minister, from whatever party, has generally only a limited idea of the workings of their department, and serving maybe 20-30 months on average, they do not get the chance to find out much more. Without any managerial skills, they are doomed to be ineffectual figureheads.

The Liberal Democrat case for constitutional reform rests on two key ideas: the principled case based upon the Philosophy of openness and accountability embedded in Liberalism. The second is the pragmatic case based upon the fact that the State apparatus can not deliver anything like the results that are expected.

After the past few days, I have seen Vince Cable rip the government to bits. I believe that, despite the fact that the Lib Dems have been derided and dismissed, the time for our ideas has come.

The Conservative party is also led by yet another machine politician and the backlash against the idea that politics is a career and not a vocation is going to grow ever stronger as it becomes apparent that professional politicians are incompetent at everything... except politics.

1 comment:

HF said...

Cicero, I have pointed out on pbc that you are wrong to label David Cameron in this way but I agree with the other main points in the above.

Another improvement is to move responsibility and power to local councils and smaller units. Too much is at the centre.