MPs in power: “Reckless Opportunists”

Owl says: MPs as elites, out of touch and just in it for the glory – well, we know a lot about that in this part of the country!

(By the way, if your/our MPs have not been about much recently it is because they have been despatched to areas where the party in power might lose control in local elections tomorrow).

“[Amber] Rudd exemplifies a political class light on expertise and principle, yet heavy on careerism and happy to ruin lives. All the key traits are here. In a dizzying ascent, she went from rookie MP in 2010 to secretary of state for energy in 2015, before being put in charge of the Home Office the very next year. Lewis Hamilton would kill for such an accelerant, yet it leaves no time to master detail, such as your own department’s targets. Since 2014 Sajid Javid, Rudd’s replacement, has hopped from culture to business to local government, rarely staying in any post for more than a year. Margaret Thatcher kept her cabinet ministers at one department for most of a parliamentary term, but this stepping-stone culture turns urgent national problems – such as police funding and knife crime – into PR firefighting.

Another hallmark of Rudd exemplifies a political class light on expertise and principle, yet heavy on careerism and happy to ruin lives. All the key traits are here. In a dizzying ascent, she went from rookie MP in 2010 to secretary of state for energy in 2015, before being put in charge of the Home Office the very next year. Lewis Hamilton would kill for such an accelerant, yet it leaves no time to master detail, such as your own department’s targets. Since 2014 Sajid Javid, Rudd’s replacement, has hopped from culture to business to local government, rarely staying in any post for more than a year. Margaret Thatcher kept her cabinet ministers at one department for most of a parliamentary term, but this stepping-stone culture turns urgent national problems – such as police funding and knife crime – into PR firefighting.

Another hallmark of this set is the disposability of its values. Cameron hugs Arctic huskies, then orders aides to “get rid of all the green crap”. As for Rudd, the May cabinet’s big liberal vowed to force companies to reveal the numbers of their foreign staff, stoking the embers of racism in a tawdry bid to boost her standing with Tory activists. Praised by Osborne for her “human” touch, she was revealed this week privately moaning about “bed-blocking” in British detention centres.

And when things get sticky, you put your officials in the line of fire. During the Brexit referendum, Osborne revved up the Treasury to generate apocalyptic scenarios about the cost of leaving. While doomsday never came, his tactic caused incalculable damage both to the standing of economists and to the civil service’s reputation for impartiality. Rudd settled for trashing her own officials for their “appalling” treatment of Windrush-era migrants.

None of these traits are entirely new, nor are they the sole preserve of the blue team. At the fag end of Gordon Brown’s government, the sociologist Aeron Davis studied the 49 politicians on both frontbenches. They split readily into two types. An older lot had spent an average of 15 years in business or law or campaigning before going into parliament – then debated and amended and sat on select committees for another nine years before reaching the cabinet.

The younger bunch had pre-Westminster careers that typically came to little more than seven years, often spent at thinktanks or as ministerial advisers. They took a mere three years to vault into cabinet ranks. This isn’t “professionalisation”. It is nothing less than the creation of a new Westminster caste: a group of self-styled leaders with no proof of prowess and nothing in common with their voters. May’s team is stuffed full of them. …

Davis depicts a political and business elite that can’t be bothered about the collective good or even its own institutions – because it cannot see further than the next job opportunity. In this environment, you promise anything for poll ratings, even if it’s an impossible pledge to get net migration down to the tens of thousands.this set is the disposability of its values. Cameron hugs Arctic huskies, then orders aides to “get rid of all the green crap”. As for Rudd, the May cabinet’s big liberal vowed to force companies to reveal the numbers of their foreign staff, stoking the embers of racism in a tawdry bid to boost her standing with Tory activists. Praised by Osborne for her “human” touch, she was revealed this week privately moaning about “bed-blocking” in British detention centres.

And when things get sticky, you put your officials in the line of fire. During the Brexit referendum, Osborne revved up the Treasury to generate apocalyptic scenarios about the cost of leaving. While doomsday never came, his tactic caused incalculable damage both to the standing of economists and to the civil service’s reputation for impartiality. Rudd settled for trashing her own officials for their “appalling” treatment of Windrush-era migrants.

None of these traits are entirely new, nor are they the sole preserve of the blue team. At the fag end of Gordon Brown’s government, the sociologist Aeron Davis studied the 49 politicians on both frontbenches. They split readily into two types. An older lot had spent an average of 15 years in business or law or campaigning before going into parliament – then debated and amended and sat on select committees for another nine years before reaching the cabinet.

The younger bunch had pre-Westminster careers that typically came to little more than seven years, often spent at thinktanks or as ministerial advisers. They took a mere three years to vault into cabinet ranks. This isn’t “professionalisation”. It is nothing less than the creation of a new Westminster caste: a group of self-styled leaders with no proof of prowess and nothing in common with their voters. May’s team is stuffed full of them. After conducting more than 350 interviews with frontbench politicians, civil servants, FTSE chief executives and top financiers, Davis has collected his insights in a book. The argument is summed up in its title: Reckless Opportunists. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/01/amber-rudd-career-elite-ordinary-people-contempt

One thought on “MPs in power: “Reckless Opportunists”

  1. The article immediately brought to mind Ester McVey, another career woman happy to concentrate her greatest efforts on ‘low hanging fruit’ as her colleagues call those easiest to attack, in her case the sick, dying and disabled.

    Like

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