Westminster system

Sad but true

At first reading I thought I was looking at a transcript of parliament yesterday, and then I realised that Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish had actually written a parody.

David Shearer:?Thank you Mr Speaker, my question now to the Minister of State Owned Enterprises: Has the Government met the five criteria the Prime Minister laid out for proceeding with asset sales?

Tony Ryall:?Blue cheese.

Shearer:?Point of order, Mr Speaker. What kind of answer was that?

Mr Speaker:?The minister answered the question. He may not have given the answer you wanted, but he nevertheless gave an answer. Do you have any supplementary questions?

Shearer:?When the Prime Minister said that the third criterion would be that companies would need to present good investment opportunities for investors, with which international investors had the Prime Minister had discussions that have yet to be made public?

Ryall:?The capital of Hungary is Budapest. The capital of Romania is Bucharest.

Shearer:?Point of order! Mr Speaker,?shouldn’t?the minister at least make some effort to answer the question? My question was not directed to European capitals.

Mr Speaker:?The member well knows that matters of geography are directly relevant to the question. The member has asked questions about international investors, and some of those investors may well be from Hungary or Romania.

Shearer:?But Mr Speaker?

Mr Speaker:?I have ruled on the matter. Does the member have any supplementary questions?

The sad thing though about David Carter’s inept speakership is that he is still better than Margaret Wilson ever was. The only funny party about the travesty the speakership now resembles is the wailing from the left that the Speaker is no longer fair and impartial…two words: Margaret Wilson. Though it would be tempting to tell the left to suck it up, I don’t think a useless speaker does anyone any favours in the long run.

I don’t think that Carter is helping things. Scott kind of nails it with this…probably more true than parody:

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The truth about civil servants

In New Zealand our ministers have office in or about the Beehive. It is very different in the UK. Their offices are actually in the headquarters of what ever ministry they are the minister of. This makes it easier?for minister to feel isolated, and as a consequence become captured by the civil servants.

David Cameron’s ministers are feeling abandoned by 10 Downing Street.

This creates ill feeling. Politicians start blaming civil servants, and civil servants ? more circumspect, but often more deadly ? hit back.

The politicians? line is that the Civil Service tries to stop everything and that no one can be sacked for incompetence. Bureaucrats do not know how to deliver or manage projects, and ministers are not allowed to appoint the people who are supposed to work for them.

The civil servants? answer is ?A bad workman blames his tools?. ?David Cameron?, one tip-top ex-mandarin told me, ?says that Yes, Minister is a documentary not a comedy. If he is right, it is partly a documentary about a weak minister?. It is not, in reality, possible, say officials, to separate policy and execution completely: things go wrong when ministers insist on implementing a policy without knowing whether it can work. This is a particularly acute problem when we are governed by a Coalition Agreement. Civil servants must warn ministers about it. Politicians have become far too frenetic: it is part of our constitutional system that their officials should make them stop and think.? Read more »