Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Who would you really want to run the country?

Among the tedious and misleading mantras of Brexiters is one which seems particularly seductive: "We want our own parliament to run the country instead of a lot of unelected European bureaucrats".
Well, of course we do..... don't we? In terms of accountability, there would appear to be no contest, when we the people elect our parliamentarians whilst EU civil servants are invisible and, worse, not British. This is, though, a false comparison, for neither do EU civil servants run our internal affairs nor do our MPs. The former administer the decisions and regulations of the Council of Ministers; the latter administer nothing but contribute to decision-making in this country. One group is of law-makers; the other of implementers. One group is insular; the other international in scope.

Leaving aside the falsity of the comparison, let us pretend they are competitors for the role of running our affairs and turn to the nature of those who constitute each group. Although a mere lowly industrial worker in my career, I have met examples of both categories. On this frail sample, I would say that both are generally intelligent and well-meaning types of people. But looking at the other evidence available to me - the media - and a very big difference manifests itself. One group is made up of highly educated, well-trained professionals, doing what they are tasked to do with little or no personal agenda. The other is a mix of self-seeking, egotistical amateurs [at least in governance], whose aims may include a well run economy but may also include climbing the party ladder, pleasing a bolshie electorate, greasing up to the media and furthering their own extra-curricular objectives.

On the basis of such a comparison, I know which set of people I would rather were making the country tick. Happily, we retain the vestiges of a Home Civil Service, despite the ravages of anti-Statist ideologues, which can and do their best for the country, often, in my experience, complemented by their EU counterparts. Accountability? They are all employees reporting to or acting upon the decisions of elected ministers. How accountable those ministers are to us for either their own or their departments' behaviours is a bigger question, for we seem to have very little insight into their competence, motivation or performance; nor the means to make them answerable to us in the pale sham we call democracy.

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