The Elephant in the Corner

Religion and Politics – anything for a quiet life

Posts Tagged ‘British government

John Major’s Next Great Idea…

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Have you ever wondered what happens to ex-Prime Ministers? I ask not because I’m trying to do some of Gordon Brown’s important work for him, but rather because, in a glaring absence of mainstream media publicity, Sir John Major will appear before the rather bland-sounding Public Administration Select Committee tomorrow (Tuesday 10th November) to share his next great idea.

According to a Press release dated last Friday, Sir John called earlier in the year for the expansion of government in the United Kingdom to be met by the appointment of a “small number” of Ministers of State who would hold seats neither in the Lords nor in the Commons. This, says Sir John, should be accompanied by a reduction in the overall number of ministers.

In case you’re wondering how this would be arithmetically possible, here comes the twist – the Committee is going to consider “the increasing size of government and the role of unpaid ministers”. So presumably, the man who brought us the cones hot line is now proposing that paid Government ministers with Parliamentary seats should be replaced with unpaid ones who, as noted earlier, hold no Parliamentary seat at all.

If accepted, John Major’s latest proposal would represent a further erosion of (what’s left of) Parliamentary sovereignty from within. It would also extend the hold over government policy formulation by Big Business, which would presumably be delighted to sponsor or supply “unpaid” Government Ministers given half a chance.

So how are we to trim the public purse in these troubled times? Like it or not, the only way to maintain Parliamentary sovereignty while ensuring that Ministers are not overloaded with taxpayer-funded “to do” lists is to shrink both the size and scope of government. We need fewer ministers and quangos to perform fewer roles. We need, among other things, real privatizations that amount to more than just granting taxpayer-funded regional monopolies to favoured big businesses (see rail privatization for a great example of how not to privatize).

Let’s hope that Parliament is neither too servile nor too stupid to be taken in by this latest ruse from Sir John, who was Chairman of the European arm of the multi-billion dollar Carlyle investment group from 2002 to 2005. Carlyle is a Washington DC-based private equity firm with sizable stakes in many pies… including the British arms industry.

I wonder if Sir John might have anyone in mind to fill his proposed vacancy for an unpaid, unelected Government minister. Surely, modesty forbids…

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Written by salternlight

November 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm