Filed under: Liberal Democrats | Tags: Cabinet, Data Fiasco, HM Customs, Parliament, Prime Minister, UK Government
Gordon Brown’s response to crisis week, “Sorry, I will change” is symptomatic of what is wrong with the government of Britain today and why I support the Liberal Democrats, the only party who actually seems to understand that Britain’s problems are deeper than people and personality.
Britain today is run by a bureaucratic government with all accountability concentrated in political figures who’s constant rotation serves only to distract the general public from the real problems at hand, and provides a veil of democratic accountability.
Take the current fiasco with the loss of personal data by HM Customs and Revenue. Even if the the discs were not lost by a junior employee as at first claimed, why is the Prime Minister now taking the blame. After all with issues facing today such as environmental catastrophe, a war in Iraq and a financial system in crisis, do we really expect the Prime Minister to be keeping a close eye on data security policy for customs?
We should instead recognise that the vast majority of the business of Government is not carried out by 22 Cabinet Ministers, but by half a million civil servants. But with these 22 being the only democratically accountable members of the government, we tend to focus all of our attentions on them. In the end the solution boils down to a question of what we want our elected our representatives to do, to manage government directly or to oversee government.
Presently we have a system of government that does neither, no Cabinet minister, splitting her time between constituency, parliament and the ministry can hope to have a full grip on what is going on in her department. At the same time, by acting as a representative of that department, and her fate being tied to it, cannot provide vigorous oversight.
Our only hope is to reorganize our government, a good first step should be to disassociate parliament, from the government. Why should we be satisfied with part time, inexperienced, political hacks as leaders. Why should the Prime Minister not be able to appoint outstanding people from outside of parliament or his party to the most important offices in the land? To give an example, Nicholas Sarkozy’s Foreign Minister is the founder of Medicines Sans Frontiers and a member of the opposition Socialist Party. Secondly why should people like the Foreign Secretary, also have to deal with their constituent’s planning permission applications? I am sure they have other things to do.
Having the heads of ministries have this responsibility be their only full time job, would make them more accountable, whilst removing them from parliament, would also free up parliament to provide better oversight.
If we carry on decapitating the political leadership every time a crisis occurs, we will make no progress in achieving what should be the goal of government, good government.
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