Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Simon Heffer nails the politicos

There's nothing much that I can add to this.
If you really want to be immiserated in gloom, go to a library and look up an MP at random in Dod's Parliamentary Companion, and just see the sort of person you are dealing with. They boast about careers as student politicians. They have worked as research assistants and special advisers and been local councillors. And that's just the Tories: Labour and Lib Dem MPs tend to be even less qualified, unless you count working for a trade union or lecturing in an ex-polytechnic as a measure of greatness.

Our coarsened nation is thus matched with coarsened politicians. The few who are not stand out like beacons, and we revere them. The rest are grasping, expensive for the state to run, achieve little, and are rewarded chronically for failure. They have little idea how to behave, are incapable of acting decently when found out in doing wrong, and see no harm in consorting with the most shocking people. That is where professionalisation has got us: politics is no longer a fit calling for a respectable young or middle-aged person. And as we survey this swamp of oily people on the make, whatever can it portend for our democracy?

Go and read the whole thing...

9 comments:

lahgbr said...

Once again, I recommend Peter Oborne's 'The Triumph of the Political Class'. It's all in there.
And what it means for our democracy is that in effect we haven't got one any more.
JustAnotherEUSerf(formerly known as Mr. Hughes).

Mark Wadsworth said...

Fixing that is easy.

Scrap MPs' and councillors' salaries and make it a voluntary/part time profession.

Hazel Blears insists that "politics is expensive". No it's not, if you need some sensible pragmatic/libertarian policies that WILL WORK, you can get some bloggertarians to sort them out for free. Then shut down most government departments (no longer required).

I'm sure there are plenty of us who'd happily help the Tories decide whether Goldsmith or Redwood is on the right track. ALmost certainly Redwood.

Sir HM said...

Of course, they're all happy to tell us that cream always rises to the top.

And I'm happy to tell THEM that scum does too.

Budgie said...

Simon Heffer is right - this is why we need direct democracy to bypass the *!!***!!s.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Scrap MPs' and councillors' salaries and make it a voluntary/part time profession.

The problem with those sentiments, whilst laudable, is that- at least with many councillors- it is already the case.

I'm very much inclined to see 'best value for money' and all that where taxpayers' money is concerned- I wouldn't be a libertarian otherwise.

The reality for many elected local authority representatives is that they get quite a low remunerations package- it isn't a salary, for a start.

The average councillor spends 15 hours a week on council business (sorting out dog shit through to economic regeneration. Of course, they shouldn't really be busying themselves with that, but anyway...). That equates to about £7 an hour for my local councillors, who are responsible for a unitary authority.

That is where it all goes wrong, in my opinion. Because the remuneration for such responsibility is so low, we get a shit selection of talent to choose from. On top of working 40 hours + each week, who would want to spend another 15 hours of their time talking to moaning residents about dog shit? The competition for ward candidates is non-existent, so instead of high-quality locals with good ideas and a real sense of wanting to make progress, the choice of candidates tends to boil down to i) the elderly, who have lots of spare time on their hands and could do with a bit of extra money, ii) the sheer bloody-minded politico who ALWAYS knows better than everyone else and iii) the useless, who know little and are just there for the ride. Those who are competent are in the minority.

To get the right people involved, I think it's really going to need three things from local and central government- improved remunerations that are commercially attractive and a reduction in the amount of bureaucracy councillors have to deal with. Endless meetings and paper shuffling at the behest of officers is not attractive to those with a 'can do' attitude. Last, more power to local authorities will perhaps help people to realise that things can be done locally and a difference can be made. Too often, power resides with council bureaucrats and is limited by central government regulations.

I had more to say, but I've forgotten.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

To answer his rhetorical question of "has our nation got the politicians it deserves?"- yes, I think it has, in some instances.

Some people have become so dependent on others telling them what to do, what to think, how to live their lives and to pick up the pieces for them when they fuck up, that they deserve the dregs whom they elect.

Just as I have contempt for a lot of politicians (the bad ones), I have just as much for some of the electorate.

FlipC said...

Looking smug, I'll point out my current MP is an MB, BChir, BA and (I suppose for completeness) an FRCP and worked as a Medical Officer in the RAF. Oh yeah and an Independent which might explain everything.

Roger Thornhill said...

The best form of direct democracy operates from my wallet.

No, I do not mean bungs to New Labour Parasites or £5k in used to Local Councillors, but my spending my own money and time on things I decide are important.

THAT is direct democracy.

Budgie said...

Roger
Your wallet can decide many things but not all. There might for example be a referendum on using any form of self defence against a burglar/rapist/murderer in your own home. There could be a referendum on how many immigrants are allowed into the UK. Referendums about the EU Lisbon treaty and our membership of the EU are essential. Oh and one on banning Cherie Blair from grinning.