At the beginning of my career I worked in a section of the Privy Council Office called “machinery of government.” Its religion was “ministerial responsibility”, whereby the Minister was responsible to parliament for the actions of his or her department. In many cases the civil servants escape effective control because they move from job to job faster than their mistakes or errors can be discovered.
What you see below is an interview with a former British Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell. I wish we had MPs of this quality. In terms of perspicacity, range of thought, eloquence and experience, Carswell is head and shoulders better than almost every Canadian MP. He is one of the few people in parliament to have thought deeply about how government actually works.
He speaks of the Prime Minister sending “charter letters” to Ministers telling them of their mandates – we have this in Canada. But what he adds to this idea is vital. He says the letter should also mandate the civil servants who are expected to stay in the job to assist the Minister for as long as the Minister is in office, so that they cannot transfer out while they are supposed to be getting their job done.
- The future of the Labour Party – at 27 minutes
- Boris Johnson and the current government at 28 minutes
- Problems with the mandarinate and the “quangocracy” at 30 minutes.
- The broadcasting/digital media revolution at 44 minutes
How I wish we had people of his quality in Canadian politics!