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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Jobs for the Tories

Following her triumph at the Welsh Conservative Conference in which she promised to pop into Wales once or twice a year to answer AM's questions if she becomes Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan has hit the headlines again with a job advert to work in her office.

Cheryl is advertising for a research assistant jointly with the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell. It sounds like a big job, encompassing as it does two countries and an asymetric devolution settlement.

The ideal candidate needs to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, a keen interest in politics and current affairs, an attention to detail, proficiency with IT and prior experience of working in an office environment. But fear not knowledge of devolution, Scotland or Wales is only desirable, not essential.

The fact that the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales believes that knowledge of devolution is optional for her staff is worrying. It indicates that the election of a Conservative Government could well see a return to the colonialism that was so apparent under Margaret Thatcher's and John Major's Welsh Office, with Government Ministers making token visits to answer a few questions before retreating back to London where they will take all the decisions on behalf of the Assembly. Discuss.
Incredible! Just says it all about the Tories approach to devloution
I mean, its a silly choice of words, but essentially it is saying 'you dont have to know everything about X to apply, but you will be at an advantage if you do'.

Ever thought about learning on the job...?

There are plenty of english born AMSS who probably wasnt that au fait with the Assembly when they applied.

I suppose it a 'megalol'
Where did you see the story first Peter? Wouldn't it be polite to give a hat tip to the blog that alerted you to the story?
Marcus, you are right of course but it is such an open goal. Given the history of the Tories in Wales and the context she most probably would have been better off not mentioning knowledge of devolution at all.

Ramblings, I did not see it on another blog. It was drawn to my attention by our party's press officer when he was asked to supply a comment to a newspaper. I always do acknowledge my sources.
And Ramblings, if we're going to get possessive about such things, did I get it off you or did you get it off me? http://auberius.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-bunch-of-celts.html
Speak as you find I always found both Redwood and Hague to be well briefed when as local government representatives we met them before 1997. This is a non story which has been obtained from a website for those interested in working for politicians. I would have thought that ability rather than prior knowledge of a topic would be the criteria for selection. Any bright graduate can easily gain the knowledge required on any subject if they have the right research skills. If you follow the logic in the criticisms made of the advert then anyone working for a defence minister must have prior knowledge of the armed forces. Whereas often some of the most innovative ideas on defence come from those who have never fired a shot in anger in their lives. Any sensible government will also eventually amalgamate the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland Offices. It should have happenedc once the devolved institutions werre set up. The appointment might reflect what the Tories intend to do if they win the next election. Cutting ministers in the present economic climate as yesterday's announcement in the Republic showed might be a popular move. Afterall it doesn't cost anything.
Utterly silly criticism - utterly silly fuss about nothing.

The job is for a research assistant for two shadow secretaries of state - there are no required professional qualifiations, so the wording used at the end is simply to comply with current practice for employment adverts. Are you saying that they would not be able to employ someone who had no detailed knowledge of Wales/Scotland/devolution but who was demonstrably able to work up such knowledge and had an interest in doing so?

Your own comment that 'it is such an open goal' reveals your real motivation - this is not serious criticism, it is merely political opportunism of the sort that turns people off politics altogether.
Sorry there is no law that says you cannot specify that a knowledge of devolution is a requirement to do such a job. That is a complete smokescreen.

Of course people can learn on the job but actually putting in an advert that knowledge of devolution is optional says far more about the employer than the post itself.
It doesn't say that the knowledge is 'optional' it says that it is 'desirable but not required'. Can you honestly not see the difference?
Optional or desirable the point stands. It was a gaffe. There is no getting away from it.
Sorry Peter I still don't see this as a gaffe. Just imagine if someone from Wales applied for the job but had gone to Oxbridge or the LSE and studied History as I did. Their only knowlege of devolution would have been obtained from reading the local newspapers. If you wanted prior knowledge of devolved institutions then you would have to narrow the field down to either a politics graduate who had studied devolution as part of their course or a postgrad who had completed a body of research into either the Welsh Assembly or Scottish Parliament. The only really interesting bit is whether this appointment means that if the Tories come to power they intend to abolish the position of Secretary of State.
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