Friday, 18 May 2007

The Deputy

This is really silly:
WHEN the new electoral system for Scotland's councils was devised, many hoped it would bring a new generation of young minds to local government.

And today in Aberdeen that prediction will come true with the appointment of four councillors under 26 to key posts - including an 18-year-old as Deputy Provost.

... Prof Richard Kerley, a vice-principal at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and local government expert, said: "I have grave doubts that someone as young as Mr West will enjoy being a councillor, let alone be able to make a contribution.

The professor is correct. The Provost (or his Deputy) is the senior figurehead of the community. The role is quite different from, say, that of a young Richard Branson type of entrepreneur. In almost all companies, the Chairman (equivalent to the Provost) is older and has more experience than the managing director. His function is to warn and to advise as well as to carry out the ceremonial aspects of the job. An 18-year-old can't possibly perform that role properly.

The interesting question to me is why do appointments of this sort happen now and again in government but rarely in the private sector? The answer is simple. Private companies spend the shareholders' own money and managers are judged by the bottom line. Politicians spend other people's money and are judged by folk who in many cases don't make any financial contribution to the common pot.

That's why it's important to ensure that as little as possible gets done by the state and as much as possible by the voluntary sector.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

"the market has spoken" 
Bollocks. The market speaks through pricing, not just customer volume. 
Equally, those paying for the services and the recipients of the benefits that accrue must be coterminous for this to be a market: at least half of the "customers" in Aberdeen are not paying for the services of Aberdeen council, possibly more. 
Worse still, a goodly number of others - mostly Londoners I expect - are paying for this (through funding of councils from national taxation) without getting the benefit any of the services. 
So, no. The one thing we can say is that the market has not spoken. If it had, I doubt we would a labour government for very long...

21 May 2007, 16:55:32 GMT+01:00
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David Davis
I also think that one problem is the breadth of the Franchise. 
Ideally, it ought to be limited to Freeholders (and whatever these might be called in Scotland, I do not know, sorry!) who are eligible to be subject to taxation ad hoc to pay to Fight The King's Wars (agreed in advance by the representatives of same.) 
Freeholders by definition will be of a certain age, and will have had to have done soemething useful to other people in a large sense, in order to acceed to their estate. 
I advocate removing the Franchise from all excet Freeholders, and owners ( = also shareholders) of businesses, which jurisprudentially ought to be considered as Corporate Freeholders, the business not being the reversionary property of anyone else. 
Persons and legal entities that ought to be disenfranchised include; 
(1) All direct employees of any public body whatever, who receive all their pay from that body; 
(2) All persons or bodies that receive State Housing or all funding for same in whole or in part; 
(3) All persons in receipt of State benefits of any type whatever. 
It is not relevant to this discussion yet, but all politicians ought to receive no salary whatsoever in regard to their self-inflicted obligations. We want to basically exclude all persons from politicking, who will regard it as a gravy train. Retired Colonels should be Mayors, or run hospitals, if they have nothing else challenging to do. Old ladies with time on their hands should take details and offer cups of tea at "MP's Surgeries" and manage libraries (why do we now have State Libraries and not Private ones open to the public for nothing?) 
Perhaps, moreover, one ought not to be allowed to "stand" until one is 51. Or 55 orh wtaever it was, like the Roman senate. DD

19 May 2007, 18:29:56 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

In these circumstances, arguing that 'businesses wouldn't do this' is a reductio ad aburdum; this is what the Aberdonians voted for - the market has spoken. 
And who cares what 'business' thinks about anything to do with democracy, anyway?  
Mind you I can't help but feel irritated that The Children's Crusade has turned nippers who should be working Saturday jobs flipping burgers into flippin' burghers.  
As to precisely how clever and able the lad is..well, we'll see...

19 May 2007, 08:25:46 GMT+01:00
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Bill (Scotland)
I don't really think the 'age' question is directly related to whether or not the state should or should not fulfil certain functions. 
I would rather the 'state' did as little as possible, irrespective of the ages of those in elected or state-funded positions. There are as many 'immature' people over 50, in my humble opinion, as there are below the age of say 20 or 25. I agree completely that the private sector (and sometimes certain parts of the voluntary sector) have a much better idea of how to utilise resources efficiently - knowing that if they do not they will, personally, suffer the consequeces. 
No, what the good professor is arguing about, I think, is the whole concept of 'democracy' - our system tends to be that once one is 18 one may, legally, do any job (elected or unelected, state or private sector) which those who decide on such appointnment consider appropriate. With elected officials the ones who do the deciding are the general electorate, many of whom probably have little idea about how any organisation, or budgetary system, works. But a lot of 45-50 year olds I know would certainly be no better! 
I think we should perhaps have minimum (and perhaps maximum, too) ages for accessability to certain posts - just as is the case in the US with Senators or the President, even though in the case of the current President the fact that he fulfils the age qualification doesn't mean he is any good - but the real responsibility for this lies with the electorate who voted him to power. 
If the good folks of Aberdeen want to vote 'toddlers' to lead them then it is their problem.

18 May 2007, 11:27:40 GMT+01:00