Sunday, 29 April 2012

Why advisers and backroom boys will bring down the Tories

Cameron is looking increasingly like an embarrassment.  His determination to cling to Jeremy Hunt as a human shield, at the same time as presiding over the most incompetent macroeconomic policy of any government since the 1930s, is finally convincing even the most fervent deniers that the Tories are like untreatable syphilis, gradually eating away at the patient from within.

The politicisation of government, begun by Thatcher and gleefully accelerated by Blair and Brown, has resulted in a scabrous hybrid of incompetence and propaganda being the currency of Whitehall.  It was Labour who appointed a special adviser whose advice to her Minister was that bad news should be buried at the time of 9/11.  The extent to which politicians are in thrall to their political advisers is such a scandal that it will probably cause political and economic catastrophe before it is unpicked - and the civil service itself is becoming increasingly undermined as a consequence.

I was highly amused that Mr Hunt's former policy wonk rejoiced in the name of Adam Smith, although it would be tempting to find out whether it was acquired by deed poll - as the sage of Kirkcaldy is a much-misunderstood social democrat rather than the slavering apostle of the free market his ignorant pseudo-disciples portray.  However, the entire government machine is riddled with these former student politicians, whose experience is negligible and whose instincts are purely tribalistic.  Their judgement calls, for example in interpreting their master's voice as being a siren call to get into bed with News Corporation against the public interest, are sufficient off-beam as to require their immediate removal from positions of responsibility, and, preferably, solid objects.

Astute politicians should be aware of the limitation of their advisory cadres, especially since many of our current administration have worked their way into politics without a proper job but with the backing of inherited wealth.  Even the former jibes at Labour for being full of polytechnic lectures with no genuine experience now appear to be overplayed, as such a background would imply at least some ability to connect with those beyond the political class.

Special advisers and their twins in self-styled "think-tanks" are a cancer on government and politics, as they are neither trained nor accountable to anyone other than political masters.  Yet we pay for them through tax revenue, and their baleful influence is often used to rubbish and belittle professionals in government and beyond whose message does not attune to the message that Ministers want to hear.  The emasculation of health and education is accelerated by their willingness to acquiesce with the client groups who want to extract money from the taxpayer and destroy the communal in favour of narrow, uncompetitive oligopolies.

As the next few weeks unfold, the Cameron reliance on his cronies and their apparatchiks will be tested to the limit.  Hopefully there will be some bad results for the Tories in local government (the Liberals have already surrendered through guilt by association this time round, but may make the right call in the wake of Tory sleaze) - and the Murdoch debacle will expose more of the murk that has been accepted for so long.  Fresh-faced wonks have no experience and no remit. 

What is more worrying, though, is that I read that the average age of Treasury drones is 32 - and these are the self-appointed masters of the universe who hold government spending in their hands.  The victims of incompetence and inexperience are fed lies by the political cuckoos in the government nest, and are neither of sufficient wisdom or stature to challenge them - so we're stumbling into the mire with no accountability and precious little visibility.  No wonder government and democracy are in such a mess.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.