Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Diminishing talent: rise of the professional politician

Groucho Marx once said, “I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” Who would want to be a politician now?

As an immigrant of many decades, I am very protective of all the reasons why I chose to come and live in this country and like any convert can be very passionate about it. Faith in the Parliamentary system was one factor. I am not bothered by the odd bad apple – goodness there have been enough scandals over the decades, although the latest expenses scandal is overwhelming. It is also profiteering with tax-payers money rather than exploiting position and influence which many past scandals have been.

I am now troubled by what seems to be a gradual but relentless shift from being served by people who had a vocation for public service, in addition to whatever the day job was, to professional politicians. It actually doesn’t matter whether the day job was trade union official or merchant banker – if there was a big enough spread, the best interests of society would be served within the limits of the governing party’s policies. If you didn’t like the policies you voted that lot out.

We are now gravitating to a situation where we will be governed by professional politicians who won’t have jobs in the “real” world which we all live in and what is more, may never have had jobs outside politics.

Thanks to Iain Dale for pointing me to this article by Paul Goodman, who is standing down as an MP at the next election, in the Daily Mail yesterday. He confirms all my worst fears and he is speaking as an insider. He says, “In short, the Commons is set to become a chamber of professional politicians, dependent on the taxpayer, and remote from the millions of Britons who aren't.”

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