A latest poll just published revealed that the Conservatives have suffered a double digit loss of public support since the March budget announcement. Labour is now seen as the most competent of the three main parties for the first time since the coalition began.
How has it gone wrong so quickly for the charismatic and clever leader and his team of equally intelligent Ministers? Sure they took some serious missteps and u- turns since the March budget was announced: the 'pasty tax', 'caravan tax', 'heritage tax' and 'charity tax', but their fundamental thinking is sound and we know as a country we can't go on spending the way we have in the past.
When Gordon Brown became Chancellor in May 1997, he was handed a strong and stable economy on golden platter by the Conservative government. Britain had more money in its private pension plans than all of Europe combined. Under Brown, the scope and role of government grew and grew until he bankrupted England. Cameron inherited a country with empty coffers. We all remember when Liam Byrne, The Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasure, left a note to his successor, "I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left".
Voters have short memories, but this is only part of the problem. I believe it is the structure of government that also the culprit.
In the United Kingdom, most of the heads of government departments are not experts in their fields- in fact- most have spent their working life in government working their way up to become career MPs. If we are completely honest, the skills needed to be a first rate Member of Parliament has little to do with the expertise needed to efficiently budget, run and deliver the needed services to the largest corporation in the United Kingdom, our taxpaying citizens and the six million civil servants who work in the public sector.
Would anyone of sound mind even think of applying for a job as CEO in the private sector without years of prior experience? If they did, the standard letter of rejection would surely be in the post the next day. How can we expect our Ministers to effectively manage the business of running the nation's health care, education, energy, and transportation departments when they have come to the job with little or no business or operating experience?
I don't think you will find anyone who will say David Cameron, George Osborne, or any of the Cabinet Ministers aren't intellectually accomplished. They graduated with firsts or 2:1s from Oxford or Cambridge. But when you look at their work experience before pursuing a career in politics, the management experience is close to nil. Take George Osborne. His first job was entering the names of people who died in London into the NHS computer. Also on his CV, before joining government, was that he briefly worked for Selfridges refolding towels.
In America, heads of government departments are selected for their expertise within their fields and they do not have to be serving politicians to be appointed by the president. In the United States, no Cabinet member is allowed to be a member of Congress (it's in the Constitution- separation of power). To be considered for the post of Government Minister in Britain, one must be a member of one of the two Houses of Parliament.
Clearly, things aren't going too well in America either, but I believe it is for other reasons. The president's authority to lead the nation is limited by checks and balances that were added by the framers of the Constitution. Without approval by Congress, the president can't get legislation passed. Without the support of the Supreme Court, the president can't do anything either. The checks and balances have created a log jam that makes it almost impossible to pass new laws. But as far as the President's Cabinet, it is filled with the brightest and the best from the private sector. However, the other parts of the American system are so deeply flawed that it negates the leadership and experience in the business sector that his cabinet brings to government.
Is the solution to vote for Ed Milliband and Mitt Romney in the next election or is it time to start a serious debate on how to restructure government to make it more effective?
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