How competent are Cabinet members, to do the jobs they have been given to do?
I’ll never forget my first few visits to Parliament. Of course it is an impressive building, but what impacted me most was how ordinary everyone was. The bubbles of my presumptions were pricked as I noted that parliamentarians were not operating on a higher intellectual or spiritual plane than mere mortals like me. Don’t get me wrong – I was also impressed with the astounding levels of sacrifice and passion I encountered, but I became convinced that many of the leaders I had rubbed shoulders with within medicine, NGOs or the church would excel in this environment. I reckoned they had just as high (if not higher!) levels of strategic thought, integrity and competence. In fact I became convinced of the need for folks like them to get involved to improve the standard of leadership in our country.
Current events are causing people to re-examine just how competent some of our elected leaders really are. The handling of Brexit, Covid, and exam results mean we are asking questions about basic management, communication, and strategic planning skills, rather than policies.
In the last few years there have been many talented and experienced MPs in the House of Commons. But sadly many of them have not served on the front benches of either the red or blue team. When promotion only follows adherence to a tribal faction or leader, rather than skills, the first casualty can be the level of competence of those in leadership. Two years ago, embarrassed Labour supporters often watched inept shadow cabinet interviews from behind their sofas, while now even some of the most loyal Conservative supporters struggle to label the present Government’s handling of contract tendering, Covid testing or Brexit as competent, or to defend it.
So could you help improve things? Could you bring your skills to the table to serve the common good in politics? Why not find out? We all feel pretty competent in our armchairs.
By Andy Flannagan