This is something I’ve written about in many posts – links below – with regards to how Ministers are assigned duty not based on specific expertise but rather on how well connected they are up the chain command or merely to achieve internal political objectives. The most recent revelation is about Karen Bradley Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who admitted that before becoming Northern Ireland secretary she was profoundly ignorant of the country’s political divisions and “scared” of the place. Now it may be quite easy/convenient to blame and/or mock Minister Bradley but this I believe has been the culture of appointing ministers for decades where expertise is not a key selection criteria. Decades? What the hell am I talking about having to go that far; think Boris Johnson in charge of the Foreign Office, and now Jeremy Hunt – these are NOT nightmare scenarios but reality so wake up for coffee “or tea if you prefer” – and this list is longer than you think. I would therefore like to make the following points;
- Weak credentials for public servants in general and particularly those holding high positions poses a risk and a huge vulnerability to the country at many levels. It is therefore utterly irresponsible for the head of government to assign people without relevant expertise to the extent that they should be held accountable for breach of trust; it is in my view that serious.
- Weak credentials for Ministers translates in my view to weak departments with weak culture and/or ethos. More importantly it does not allow for a constant/consistent pattern of evolution for departments in terms of how they do their work. This not mention that such assignments may also negatively impact morales when public servants working in these departments see the level of ignorance of their commanding chief.
So to sum up let me suggest that we should demand from our government to assign the best in he field experts to drive policy and NOT the goto approach of “political convenience” which fractures our system of governance and endangers our future.
Hope this helps.