Hunt, Cameron and Murdoch: guilt and government by association

This week’s storm about culture, media and sports secretary Jeremy Hunt’s handling of News Corporation’s bid for complete control of BSkyB shows how Britain’s culture of government is horribly flawed.

A decade ago, Tony Blair’s sofa government style was condemned by the way Blair took Britain to war against Iraq without proper process or control. Now it seems that Hunt’s department side-stepped the rules on judicial impartiality in judging the News Corp takeover by allowing special adviser Adam Smith (oh the irony of that name…) to conduct back-channel discussions with News Corp.

The curiosity is that as ministers become professional politicians (in that they’ve never held a job in the real world), their performance as politicians becomes less ‘professional’ by the day. And that’s to put it kindly…

2 thoughts on “Hunt, Cameron and Murdoch: guilt and government by association

  1. The other and even more worrying problem is with the quality, professionalsism, independence and integrity of the administrative machine – the civil service – that is supposed to hold all of this together on behalf of the people who through their taxes pay for it all.

    Watching the performance this week of the DCMS Permanent Secretary against the PAC with Margaret Hodge, Richard Bacon and Ian Swales being questioned on all of the core costing, budgeting, forecasting and financial management of the spiralling costs of the Olympics and especially the security costs was dreadfully worrying.

    At every turn and with every department at national, regional and local government level it is more than obvious that whole swathes of the departments of state are too large, badly managed and simply not fit for purpose. There is a huge over-reliance on external consultants and professional services organisations when such expertise should be provided ‘in-house’.

    How is it that the ultra-rich can hire lawyers and accountants to find loopholes in just about every aspect of legislation – tax, planning, immigration etc – far ahead of the lawyers and accountants who actually draft the legislation in the first place.

    Politicians, special advisors and civil servants, professionals they are not. The few politicians who have the intellect and ability to really make a difference and change things are cleverly excluded from any positions of power.

    • Wise words, Trevor. Part of the problem is that politicians think they have all the answers, and refuse to listen to expert opinion. It’s true of all parties – from Margaret Thatcher and the poll tax, Tony Blair and Iraq, Gordon Brown and the part privatisation of the Underground – to name just three examples. Without even mentioning the current lot…

      And the fact that it is up to the prime minister to decide whether Jeremy Hunt should be investigated for allegedly breaking the ministerial code is extraordinary.

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