Wasted youth

 

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Too much, too young? The new shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has become the latest member of the 2010 Labour intake to clamber into the shadow Cabinet, joining Chuka Umunna, Rachel Reeves and Margaret Curran at the top table.

There's not a vast amount of excitement or angst to be had from Ed Miliband's second reshuffle, but there is the thought that the charge of the 2010 brigade shows that the rules have changed.

Once, MPs arrived in the Cabinet or shadow Cabinet after a stately progression over several years, through the whips office (Tony Blair insisted that future ministers be marinated in the world of the whips) and junior ministerial or shadow ministerial office.

Now bright young things are catapulted to the top.

Owen Smith MP Owen Smith was elected Pontypridd MP in 2010

Is this a good idea? There's a long-standing complaint that too many of the top people in politics (in all the main parties) have spent most of their adult lives as special advisors and then as ministers. In the Commons, there's a different complaint: that there's an emerging political superclass of ex-SPADs (Mr Smith worked for ex-Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy) and beautiful people who arrive in the House trailing clouds of glory, and barely dip their toes into the work of ordinary backbench folk before being summoned to the front bench.

Not for these favoured sons and daughters, the greybeards grumble, the long slog through gruelling public bill committees, and humdrum Westminster Hall debates. No fruitless hours on the backbenches failing to catch the Speaker's eye. You don't have to talk to many Commons footsloggers to realise there is a very real resentment at the patronage with which some have been favoured, but not them. A bit more drudgery in the ranks would have done 'em good...

This is not to say that the patronage is un-merited. I don't know anyone who argues that Messrs Smith and Umunna and Ms Reeves are not up to high office, or say they lack talent. They're uniformly impressive with the media and Ed Miliband seems to have taken a conscious policy decision to put fresh new faces in Labour's shop-window.

But you will hear murmurings that they - and other new intake members promoted to mid-level office - may be a bit undercooked; not sensitive to the cross currents of the Commons, lacking committee skills, technically ill-equipped for their role.

Of course, the counter-argument is that they have access to plenty of gnarled parliamentary veterans who can advise on tactics and procedure - and that, in any event, their prime focus has to be the electorate, rather than legislative micro-politics. That is particularly true of Mr Smith, who as shadow Welsh Secretary is shadowing a cabinet minister who has almost no executive responsibility, because it has all been transferred to the Welsh Assembly.

The same issues may soon confront David Cameron. Few expect sweeping changes to the coalition cabinet, but there is an expectation that Tory high-flyers from the 2010 intake will be elevated to junior and middle-ranking positions (with several ministers of state seen as dead men walking).

 
Mark D'Arcy Article written by Mark D'Arcy Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 25.

    The UK needs a mixture of vision, imagination, wisdom, experience, strategy all wrapped up in integrity. So bright talented youngsters on both sides of the House can be just as valuable as the gnarled old trench soldiers. Something has to be done, we going down the pan with the Old School Tie Gang and they haven't even pulled the flush handle yet! Oh, and a bit of leadership wouldn't go amiss!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    Mr Miliband's judgment has been fine to date. Who complains that a shadow minister is not doing their job properly? Contrast this with HMG where incompetence or failure is not a bar to continuing in office (Osborne, Clarke, May, Lansley), and misconduct is a bar only when the pressure becomes too intense (Fox, Huhne, Hunt).

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 23.

    You should not be allowed to become an MP unless you have either paid 5 years PAYE tax as an employee or run your own business for 5 years, neither must be in a political environment. We have the most inexperienced parliament in history.

    People who only 'job' was a spell as a political researcher should not be allowed to take decisions that can wreck society.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 22.

    Labour need all the help they can get, as they maybe looking a little better now in face of Millipeeds false promises,BUT, in three years time it will lokk like what it is a lost cause as some of us have long memories and at least the tories tell it the way it is and not like you may want it to be. NO b-lls--t just the truth, no lies as per Blair, Brown etc.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    who cares how old they are or how long they've been in the job, if they've got the brain for it and can make good decisions then give them the job. It's got to be better then the current system of giving the top jobs to only millionaires or to your old private school chums.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    Am ,by, any young persons definition, well past sell by date.
    But am not too old to recognise that the young people today,will determiine our future.
    Yes.They will make mistakes.
    Yes,they will have to decide who tells them porkies,who tries to decieve them.
    Just hope they recognise that is a problem we could not resolve.
    Hope they do better than us.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    This is highly dangerous as it means ever more central control by the parties. Candidates will not be true 'local' people with long term interest in and knowledge of their community. They will be people who think of their party first and their constituency second. We are heading for ruling elites in parties and that reduces democracy.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 18.

    I know politics is a skill, using influence, persuasiveness, shiftyness and lying.
    Even so, all political parties would obtain credibility by nominating candidates with some real experience of the world of work, of all types.
    The slippery lefty liberal soundbite lawyers that seem to infest government have a face for every situation, but zero leadership.
    Where are we going?
    Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 17.

    What choice do Labour have with any one old enough to vote tainted by association with failure. Straight from school into politics and it's play-school these days.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 16.

    Well they need to be young because the length of time it will take Labour to get back in they will be old. Or they could just change regularly and the whole lot have a go, plenty of time.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 15.

    The mere desire to be in charge should instantly disqualify anyone from being so.
    Not quite sure where that would leave us, but it could only be a better place.

  • Comment number 14.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    Well the old saying was if you can not hold down a proper job,become an MP. This bunch we have got now fit the bill.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    Interesting to see MPs complaining about fast tracking young MPS, isn't this the same plan they have for the Police.

    MPs with NIMBYism? Surely not.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 11.

    Perhaps Mr. Gove could develop a robust MP examination and objective Ofsted to root out the chaff from the grain?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    Academically qualified lacking in experience of anything approaching a normal adult life outside of government depts, and without experience of being an MP for any length of time. They have not earned respect from the voters or Parliament. They are a wet bunch in the main.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 9.

    All part of the cleansing of the party of the hacks that ruined the country.

    All fast tracking of any staff is wrong in professional organisations. But will make no difference amongst MPs as they are all incompetent at everything. Only there to suck up to the party and get sinecures. Fit in or get out, never have a principle, never do the right thing, only the party orders.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    A young pup generally has fewer fleas than an old dog, I suppose...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 7.

    The last parliament was infected with MP's who abused their priveledge and brought deep disrespect on the workings of the democratic process. Of course some of the 'cheats' were cast out but there are plenty with skeletons in their closet. However, I am not convinced that the country should be run by people without worldly experience, so career politicians and special advisers are not ideal.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 6.

    If you are good enough you are old enough - until they've had time in post we've no idea if they are good enough or not, as they haven't been around long enough.

    Good luck to them, as with the "golden generation" in English football the current generation of MPs have falttered to decieve then won nothing......

 

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