.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, August 31, 2009

Rise of the career politician

Research by the New Local Government Network think tank using biographical information provided by the candidates and their parties has revealed that a quarter of new MPs after the general election are likely to be career politicians with little experience of business, public service or the professions.

The Telegraph reports that one in four can be described as a “career politician,” having had paid employment working in Parliament, or worked as an adviser to a senior politician whether as an employee or volunteer. Only 11.7 per cent of candidates have worked in the public services, including 2.6 per cent in health care. The piece has almost a wistful air about it as if it were harking back to the time before universal suffrage when gentlemen entered Parliament and indulged in political debate in between tending their country estates.

Disturbing as the research is I should say that I am not surprised and I am astonished that anybody else is. That is because it takes a particular type of person to be a successful full time politician and they need to have or acquire a skill-set unique to that job.

Given the exposure which politicians are subject to, together with the necessary accountability and transparency that comes with the job, then why would anybody who is successful in another field want to switch? Many still do and most make a success of it but they make up a minority of candidates and MPs.

The attractiveness of the job has lessened for many people precisely because of the expenses scandal. It is right that the system has been exposed and needs reforming and people are also correct to be angry at what has happened but not many of them will go through the necessary process to stand themselves.

The other reason why the breed of professional politicians is growing is the first past the post electoral system. Because there are so many safe seats then those who want to become MPs see that the best way to do so is through working within the party of their choice. They will get experience of the Parliamentary system, make contacts in high places, immerse themselves in politics and in doing so get the secure tenure they are after.

It is an apprenticeship in the same way as one might serve an apprenticeship in any other closed shop profession and in that sense it is churning out politicians rather than professionals with an interest in politics.

A more open electoral system such as the single transferable vote that breaks the grip of the parties on Parliamentary seats will reap benefits by opening up the political process and allowing a wider choice of candidates. That does not mean that there will be any less of a political class but it will ensure that the parties do not have a monopoly on it.
You are currently 49 years old. You became Leader of the Lib Dems on some council or other, back in 1984, when you were 25 years old.

I have no idea when you were actually elected Councillor but presumably it was sometime before 1984.

So when you bandy about phrases like "disturbing as the research is....", the words pot and kettle spring immediately to mind!

You are a prime example of why things are wrong with our politics.

You are out of touch, talk mostly rubbish and have nothing else better to do other than blog at great public expense! Worse still, we can't get rid of you. You are like Ba'athist appointee in our midst!

You are skating on incredibly thin ice yet - more worryingly - you don't even recognise it.

We need a new poliitical class in Wales - not more of the same. Not more of people like you.

If you are so convinced that you right Peter, have the courage now to announce your standing stand down as a Regional AM in 2011 and instead stand for proper election to the Assembly.

Put yourself up to face the people Peter. Let's see how right you are then!

(P.S. I really hope you have the courage to allow this comment)
Thank you for your comment. I am sorry though but I cannot see the point you are making except that you personally dislike me even though I do not know you and have never met you.

For the record I was elected to Swansea Council in 1984 and have been re-elected six times since, each time with well over 60% of the vote and once with 80% plus. That does not indicate that I am out-of-touch.

However, I was not a full time Councillor. I had a real job too which I did until 1999 when I was elected to the Assembly. So by terms of the research done I do not count as a career politician who has done nothing else. Something which I do not approve of even though it is a growing reality. So there are no pots and kettles involved.

I have also been through three Assembly elections, which despite what you are say are not foregone conclusions and which are legitimate elections, as are of course those for MEPs. I work very hard in my job and do long hours. I have helped many people as well as actually got things done and changed the law. I do not consider that to be time wasted.

If you want a new political class then I am with you on that. Perhaps you can kick start it by standing yourself. Like all politicians my fate is in the hands of the electorate and I accept that.
'it takes a particular type of person to be a successful full time politician and they need to have or acquire a skill-set unique to that job'

Do you think so? I really can't make out a single type from all the politicians I can think of. Thankfully, some of them aren't too horrible...

And what about the skills? I'm dubious about that claim too; short of being able to make an extempore speech (and not many are very good at that), stay awake during boring policy discussions, and find constituents interesting, I can't see that unique skills are needed.

There's an ego thing going on, of course, often.
The shake-out of MPs at the next election, partially caused by the expenses & allowances scandals, is going to aggravate this IMO. The "professional politician" MPs, who have no other skills to fall back on, are more likely to hang on than their colleagues with a hinterland outside politics.
yeah mr bronwen cart llewelyn made up name... look at the great speeches peter has made in plenary recently regarding disabled children, wheelchair provision and there education, stuff that the tatty newspaper cannot be bothered about, he writes those press releases and speeches himself too unlike some of his political opponents....
Gosh, not sure who Bronwen is, but she's clearly cross (if unfair, in my view).

Generally, am not much inclined to listen to those who moan about our system if they don't do something. Perhaps she should put herself up for election? Maybe in Manselton?
We have good MP's good AM's and we have those who eyes never move from a target of money, as they aim higher, very much like the Blairs of this world. We have good and bad AM's, in my area we have Mary Helen Jones who for the area has been one of the best, before her we had a Labour AM who not to put a hoodoo on her was bloody awful.

We have MP's like Purnell Miliband Burnham who idea of being an MP is to attack the poorest in society to claim back money for a leader like Brown, who I've got to say is useless , he might have kidded the people of this country he has saved it, but in fact did the only thing he knew give away billions to corporations who enjoy spending it Banks.

being disabled my self I've had twelve years of being called scrounger cheat work shy you name it, yet for ten years I've fought like hell to find work.

I love to see another party come into the main stream of the two party system and I do not understand why the Lib Dem's are not gaining now.

But thats life.
I wrote about this back at the beginning of August in regard to the Assembly where the situation is t as bad if not worse due to the smaller number of politicians.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?