Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Viggers: Labour Government is made up of ‘amateurs’

Giving evidence to the Iraq Inquiry, Lt Gen Viggers said that ministers had learned nothing from their experience of the Iraq war and are ‘not living up to the responsibility’ placed on them regarding Afghanistan. He said the lessons of the Iraq war should now be applied to the conflict in Afghanistan, particularly with respect to the training of ministers.

The training of ministers?

He talks of their ‘lack of any real understanding’ and their ‘lack of a sense of direction’, noting they ‘have not really progressed at the strategic level’. He opines that ‘the intellectual horse power...needs better co-ordination’. And his judgement is unequivocal: ‘We are putting amateurs into really important positions and people are getting killed as a result of some of these decisions. It's a huge responsibility and I just don't sense we are living up to it.’

Putting amateurs into really important positions?

Coming from such a senior member of the military, Lt Gen Viggers’ comments are as astonishing as they are damning of this Labour Government.

But they are a statement of the blindingly obvious: all politicians are amateurs. One does not need a qualification; there is no requirement for a diploma or a degree. One does not need experience in any particular field: one simply stands for election, and the people vote. If sufficient numbers vote for a particular party, the leader of that party is asked by the Queen to form a government. They do it for the love of it: they are amateur.

Yet these are they who insist that education must now continue up to the age of 18; that nursing must become a degree-level profession; that teaching must become a Masters-level profession. But they do not even need so much as a GCSE themselves.

One had to see the irony in Alan Johnson being Education Secretary: he left school after his O-levels, and therefore had no experience of Sixth Form requirements let alone the pressures of a university degree. How can one administer the education of the masses when one’s own education was so limited?

Does a medical doctor make a better Health Secretary than one with an MA in English?

Why did the RADA-trained and Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson become a Transport Minister and not a Minister for the Arts?

Does someone with a second class degree in modern history have the economic knowledge or the intellectual capacity to be chancellor of the exchequer?

What good is a degree in Russian and East European Studies for grappling with the complex ethics and science of GM foods or global warming?

Why is Parliament full of amateur square pegs in round holes?

The truth is that Cranmer would have it no other way. Parliament has to be open to the amateur because the alternative does not bear thinking about. Historically, many of those who became MPs were farmers, industrialists or war heroes. Then came the era of lawyers, accountants and trade union representatives. But now we have the rise of the ‘professional politician’ – those whose path to Parliament has been that of a degree in PPE, followed by local council, parliamentary researcher and policy adviser or chief-of-staff to someone important who can grease the cogs for selection to a ‘safe seat’.

Perhaps Lt Gen Viggers will be encouraged to see Col Bob Stewart on the Tory green benches and Gen Sir Richard Dannatt on the red.

But democracy demands a Parliament that is necessarily amateur: God forbid we end up with a government of énarques.


Blogger OurSally said...

You can manage with a government of amateurs as long as they are humble enough to accept the technical advice of their many specialists, and as long as those specialists are chosen responsibly, for integrity and erudition.

This government fails because it will not do this. Indeed it will not just reject any unliked advice but also dismiss and abuse the advisor.

10 December 2009 at 09:56  
Blogger Ingenieur said...

This is an imporant point to be considered when discussing the appropriate reward level of MPs.

There is no other professional career that one can just walk into without any qualification or training whatsoever. MPs get nominated to safe seats by being loyal arse-licking party hacks.

The job should be seen as a vocation, and rewarded as such (compare nurses or preachers, and even they need to be trained). Only then will it attract those with a genuine calling to serve their country, instead of those who see it as an easy route to feathering their own nests.

An amateur is someone who does it for love, but our present lot show only love of self.

10 December 2009 at 10:05  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Those silly socialists are always telling us that if you improve the lot of the poor (good food, clean airy accommodation, good education and a good environment) they will be in a fit state to govern.

Well, Your Grace, Harriet Harman and all the other champagne socialists have been given all those good things that life has to offer – and to boot they rule over us.

But, Your Grace, if it is a good upbringing, as the socialists believe, that makes one fit to govern – then how come New Labour are regarded by the people as the Lords of Misrule?

10 December 2009 at 10:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is ideology that links and presumably qualifies these people. They have proven not to be amateurs when it comes to destroying the pillars of our nation.
The opposition have shown themselves to be the true amateurs, as well as the media, top brass and civil servants who have gone AWOL and allowed the closet Marxists to do what Hitler and the Soviets failed to achieve.

10 December 2009 at 10:46  
Blogger UKViewer said...

While I agree to an extent about the lack of knowledge and expertise of Government Ministers in any professional capacity, I would not like to see a Professional Soldier appointed as the Minister for Defence!

Having been part of the military, I have seen levels of imcompetance among so called Professional Officers that are found anywhere in the commercial world - although they are quickly found out and moved out or on pretty swiftly.

What is needed for all Ministers is capable professional advisors, not Civil Servants, who have climbed the slippery pole from pushing paper for a number of years. Secondments from Industry and the like to close the gaps in knowledge and experience.

Such advice should be a matter of public record and where the Minister disagrees, the reasons for not following should also be public record.

Off course, the constant government reshuffles do not help - just as someone seems to be getting a grip of their departmental responsibilities, they are moved. Longer tenure of at least a Parliament is needed to allow them to become proficient and able Ministers.

This allows electors to make a proper judgement on the performance of individual Ministers and the whole government each time they go to vote.

10 December 2009 at 11:23  
Blogger Tarquin said...

No problem with amateurs - Gladstone, Disraeli, Churchill, Wilson, Thatcher - amateurs the lot of them, there's no qualification for a politician and never should be

Where the problem lies is the electoral system - the electorate feel they can't influence a thing and have no say over who is in control, so they get party insiders and professional politicians (and their mates/children) - let's fae it they could stick a monkey in 80% of seats and with the right rosette it'd win every time

there's no scrutiny

All I can do is plead with people to not vote the same way as they always do, even if it is a safe seat - there's no other (democratic) way to stop them

10 December 2009 at 11:48  
Anonymous Downtrodden Prole said...

If the General considers that Ministers of State are so politically minded they are no practical use perhaps he should enter Parliament.
There was a precedent set on 20th April 1653.
Ejection of the entire political class would be highly entertaining on Parliamentary TV.

10 December 2009 at 11:50  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

It is amateures who make up the Western governments, because the one-world powers behind the scenes want such to manage them as puppets on their strings!

Though we are far better off with fishermen like apostle Peter then with professionals who lack zeal, passion, and purpose (except their own private purse) , it is apostle Paul, the converted intelellectual that is also anointed and equipped by our Lord, who wrote most of the New Testament.

This is a time of fools at the steering wheel and the powers beind the scenes want it so. For they could not handle true men and women of steel.

It is not the people who vote who choose! The people can only say yay or nay to those cadidates that the public did not choose! And that is supposed to be a democracy. It is not.

Muslims should NEVER have been allowed to vote in our Western nations, neither to be candidates for any public office as long as they had not 100% wholeheartedly renounced the evils of the Koranic commandments that deny all but muslims rights as equals, and had embraced England and UK (or the nation they are in) as their first love, willing to die for it's historic values and Christian culture. But we are governed by fools who deny God and go for quick fixes - votes - and so the can of worms (muslims) was opened... and we and our nations suffer ever since. Until the tide is turned. But this will not be done without a fight that involves the shedding of blood! The first blood that should be shed is the blood of the traitors that have betrayed our nations and cultures. But who will lead this fight, as men and women of steel are always in the minority and the worms are many...and in a democracy...the majority rules... alas.

As far as Iraq and Afghanistan: That is a fight against terrorism (so we are told). In fact it is a war without end: A dream come true for the evil Rothshilds and the weaon's inductry: No goals to accomplish and so they will just fight for the fight's sake.

Because the rotten foundations of Islam are allowed to remain standing, the building the Western fools are trying to build in Iraq and Afghanistan upon this rotten foundation, is never going to be any good. The money and lives and efforts are wasted and much ends in pockets of the evil, corrupt rulers!

I have told this to the Netherlands government prior to the deployment of the forces in Afghanistan. But they would not listen. Their arrogance is criminal! Their actions are treason. Who will prosecute them?

Why has God not given me the power to clean up the mess and put the nation back on it's feet again? Starting with teaching the people Christian morals: The Word of God, not the letter of it only which kills, but the Living, Lifegiving Word of God as taught by the Spirit of God! (2 Cor.3:6-8)

Amateuristic governments that have opposed/ oppose professional warriors have undermined the effectiveness of our armed forces greatly! Reliable good admirals & generals in the Netherlands who opposed the political forces that wanted women to have the same functions as men in the Armed forces, were removed and replaced by jelly-fishlike worthless figures that were promoted to general and admiral (though their only quality was their lack of character, so they would not oppose the evil political fools) who bowed down to the whims of the politicians. Our armed forces have never been the same since. That is the power of an amateuristic bunch in Parliament and the government, and we all suffer.

10 December 2009 at 12:03  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

The real tension in your piece is about those of us who wish that we were ruled by wise and competent rulers (and thus would wish to restict the number who may wish to become professional politicians based upon certain criteria) and those of us who believe that anyone can be voted in as an MP.

There are arguments pro and contra for both positions.

However, I think that the real danger to democracy lies elsewhere. The explosive danger glides like a torpedo fired by a U-boat in search of its target: Britannia.

Democracy, particularly in its modern version, conducts itself on the principle of ‘equality’: that any man is fit to rule over us. The type of ‘equality’ I mean is underpinned by the doctrine of moral relativism. That in turn degrades the eternal values of virtue and merit in theory and practice. That degradation will destroy democracy. For if your standards of virtue and merit are not objective and universal then you will only have subjective standards and not be in a position to see the weakening of democracy. For example, the Pre-Budget report puts New Labour’s party interest before the national interest.

I suspect that it is not so much that the people wish to see professional soldier-politicians or economists in government. The people want and the people deserve men of virtue and merit. If a carpenter by reading the Bible can see the great and wonderful ethical principles and their implications – then let us ask the carpenter if he might stand for parliament.

10 December 2009 at 12:07  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Dutchlion, are you BNP? Your intolerance is irrational. How many Muslims do you know? They have very diverse beliefs about the Koran - just like the differences between Protestants and Catholics. In fact you're offensive mentality is that of pre-Catholic Emancipation days. We live in a different time. If you want to argue for denying a particular group the vote, why shouldn't they argue for denying it to you?

10 December 2009 at 12:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't this why we have a civil service ? Shouldn't it be the generals who advise the Ministers on this sort of thing?

10 December 2009 at 13:31  
Anonymous eeyore said...

Saving Your Grace's pardon, are we not in fact governed by professionals - professional politicians? From university to researcher, from researcher to candidate, from candidate to MP and from MP to Minister, such increasingly is the melancholy progression, untainted by contact with any worldly thing save a sprinkling of journalism or public relations.

Procul O, procul, este profani!

A politician is one skilled in gaining and holding power; a statesman, one skilled in wielding it. I for one think it would be useful for would-be leaders to receive some relevant training and a qualification in statesmanship, not as a precondition for office but to indicate to voters that that candidate, at least, is not completely frivolous.

Demosthenes sought to equip himself for office by declaiming against the roar of the sea. Little enough, in truth - but still more trouble than most would-be leaders are willing to put themselves to.

10 December 2009 at 14:49  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

It all went pear-shaped when women were given the vote in 1918.

It is men who are supposed to sit in parliament whilst the wife (if she is good) conducts business affairs and thereby taking care of his needs.

‘Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

‘She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.’

Proverbs 31 vv 23-24

10 December 2009 at 14:54  
Blogger I am Stan said...

Very interesting posy your grace,square pegs in round holes eh,I just wish some of them could have had some integrity at least..too late now.

Dutchlionfrans1953..I think you are deluded and have no concept of reality, deranged!, help!

10 December 2009 at 16:25  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

It's all coming out in the wash now! New Labour is a vacuous vehicle for cheaprate charlatans. Now people know that they are speaking their minds.

10 December 2009 at 16:26  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Your graces use of langauge is informative an enarque is a pupil from the school of administration.

I do not think that there is a tool for discerning this problem , we have obvious problems , namely the increasing cemeting in of layers of necessary qualification , the qualification seeming to be unquestionably enabling the person to do what ever it was designed for . It is a object supposed to fit and as you say without question.

I am reminded that problems need solutions , and yet solutions are never really confined to a party .

the big ideas do leave certain groups unsatisfied . candidates should be able to say where they stand on issues and explain them , we now have the clever esteemed legal/officialdom , it thinks it should charge for being evasive .

The increase in there own chatter is another symptom , it is weak coalitions want payment , it is cash for support , and not the imperative of ideas that serve the nation .

10 December 2009 at 17:00  
Anonymous Mark Blades said...

I suggest that the General was using the term 'amateur', not as being the opposite of 'professional', but as to state that they are 'not competent'. That lack of competence can be attributed to a lack of moral character.

10 December 2009 at 17:07  
Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

I'm with Mark Blades.

10 December 2009 at 17:28  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

It is not only the Generals who have no time for this incompetent Labour government. The Rank & File are equally disenchanted thanks to under-resourcing and attempted cuts in compensation for the disabled.
Recently the PM was snubbed by some badly injured veterans when they closed curtains round their beds during his Selly Oak hospital visit and refused to have anything to do with him, describing his visit as "opportunistic" and a "waste of time". Some wished they could have thumped him.

10 December 2009 at 17:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off you have to question the motivation and ability of the generals. Two of them have broken ranks and took shots at the government but the plain truth is they are the experts at waging war not some minister. It seems the generals have trouble realising that for the past 8 years theyve been getting their asses handed to them by a malitia.

Secondly there is a case for the PM to pick a cabinate from outside of parliament USA style. This hopefuly would leave parliament free from the whip and allowing them to do a proper job of debate and scruitiny.

Id add that all degrees are overrated and making them manditory only gives academia a reason to exist and puts money into the pocket of bankers via student loans.

10 December 2009 at 18:01  
Blogger peter_dtm said...

eeyore said...
has it partly right - the problem is; that these incompetents really are Professionals. Except; that Professionals recognise a duty not to rip off their clients. A competent Professional body would hopefully suspend or kick out almost all this thieving mob

Mark Blades said...has the other half correct - unfortunately the term Amateur has been (like so much else in Labour's Britain) been twisted to mean something completely different to what it should.

But what ever the definition - we can be sure of one thing - the professional politician ( career-ist ) are fit only for extermination.

10 December 2009 at 19:48  
Blogger Tarquin said...

Anon 18:01

"Secondly there is a case for the PM to pick a cabinate from outside of parliament USA style. This hopefuly would leave parliament free from the whip and allowing them to do a proper job of debate and scruitiny."

Then we'd get the worst of both worlds! A compliant Parliament (unless the PM was directly elected, which Brown never could be) and unaccountable cronies in the cabinet

sorry, *even more* unaccountable cronies in the cabinet - he's already got Mandelson and a few other lords, not to mention the EU commissioners

It would be (slightly more) farcical

11 December 2009 at 03:05  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Hmm. Is this what's worrying Ol' Rumpy's lot? Possibility of an popular military? .... who might find their way into politics?

Thanks for the wv: hymind!!! [Though I think if refers best to His Grace]

11 December 2009 at 04:37  
Blogger Gnostic said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 December 2009 at 09:09  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, it's the current bunch of amateurs that have brought us to our knees and we have a similar bunch waiting in the wings. I think it's time for a shake-up don't you?

Professional politicians aren't amateurs, they are blood-sucking parasites that need to be squashed.

11 December 2009 at 09:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



No relation to the famous duck-house specialist, I hope.

13 December 2009 at 21:18  
Blogger scottspeig said...

Philosophical Kings...

That's the answer surely!

15 December 2009 at 15:46  

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