Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Cabinet Needs Rethink Not Relocation

Brown will hold his first cabinet meeting after the summer break in the West Midlands. What a cheap publicity stunt.

Ministers reckon the move will give them an opportunity to "engage" with the public. Yeh, sure.

The Orange Party has already made a case to "Cut The Cabinet Down To Size' and holding stunts for photo-ops is not the solution.

Instead of moving the meeting, instead of focussing on personalities and rewards, the cabinet should be about who's best for the job and what kind of cabinet we should have for effective government.

The present cabinet of 23 (with a further seven who can attend cabinet meetings), is a huge unwieldy mass. No organisation would dream of having a senior management team of that size.

Any tradition of collective cabinet responsibility was removed during the Blair years. He simply ignored the cabinet, sidelined the cabinet secretary and preferred his sofa government.

Like peerages to the Lords, the cabinet is used as a device to give out favours to the chosen ones and a big stick keep them in their place or take away their power.

The cabinet has no real influence but it does enable cabinet ministers to hide behind the excuse of not been accountable or responsible.

A radical rethink of the organisational structure of cabinet is needed to make it an effective part of government.

Cut the cabinet down to size. Instead of the present unwieldy 23 plus, reduce it to just seven key areas of responsibility, which reflect major areas of policy.

Chancellor, home secretary, foreign secretary, health, education, environment and a new cabinet post of social welfare.

The present departments, ministries and agencies would be shoe-horned into the responsibilities of the big seven. With just seven, it would be easier to find the right person for the job, among that limited pool of talent so needed for effective government.

Political anatomist, Anthony Sampson, in Who Runs This Place?, summed up the situation well:
"The more the prime minister exercised his power directly, through Number Ten and Whitehall, the less was the influence of the cabinet, which had been seen at the heart of Britain's democracy."

"The cabinet has been weakened, not just by the ambitions of prime ministers but by the declining quality of their colleagues."

1 comment:

Silent Hunter said...

Where they meet or when they meet or who constitutes the members of the cabinet who meet, is a complete irrelevance to the electorate.

We just want to get rid of them by the quickest & simplest method.