It is easy to identify Government Ministers in this Government and indeed many preceding ones who lack any real world experience in the areas in which they now make decisions on behalf of the whole nation. It is not a problem limited to Governments. I recall as a trained and scrutinised financial adviser in the years 1991 to 2002 that a Monday morning was often traumatic as we arrived at the office to discuss how the Sunday papers had covered pensions and life assurance issues. The problem was that whilst each of us was licensed to advised individual clients, and had to account for what we had said to them for years to come, that untrained and unqualified journalists wrote pieces that all too often misrepresented the products that they were praising or damning with no apparent accountability, and these men and women were indirectly advising not 1-2 people but 10’s of 1000’s at one time. Returning to Government Ministers, they operate in a similar way to these powerful but unqualified journalists. It is common to hear them talking nonsense and their only qualification for the task is that they have been elected (or not in some cases) by around 20,000 people in a local community, and then appointed to the Cabinet by a Prime Minister. It is usually refreshing to have Ministers who do know their brief, people like Estelle Morris as Labour education Minister from 2003-2005.
A more recent example is Ros Altman who was a well known financial adviser when I was operating in the same field, and is now an unelected Pensions Minister in DWP. Although I often disagree with her point of view, she does at least understand her brief. A Minister who is not well qualified in her area of ministerial duty is Andrea Leadsom who is Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. She has absolutely no background in this area and in that sense is not a good appointment. However as a result of the EU referendum she has reprised an area she is well qualified for, which is economics. She was briefly the Economic Secretary to the Treasury from 2014 – 2015 under the coalition. She wrote a recent blog explaining how she was “in a dealing room when Sterling crashed out of the ERM; I was running Barclays Investment Banking team when Barings Bank collapsed due to fraud; I was working in funds management during the financial crisis of 2008. Those were truly systemic events, where there was a real and serious threat to financial stability.” Perhaps once the referendum is out of the way the ever present Mrs Leadsom could explain why she has not been more vocal about what went wrong in the 2008 crash and what we need to do to avoid future problems in the banking sector. All of us are still impacted by the austerity measures which people like Andrea have previously blamed on actions by Gordon Brown and the Labour Party. It is time for a bit of transparency!