Britain’s Governing Caste Unequipped to Tackle its Main Problems

The UK’s energy problems are incredibly difficult  to solve, even if Britain’s governing caste of politicians, civil servants and lawyers were equipped with suitably educated brains and the mental fortitude to wrestle with them.  But to an astonishing degree they are not.

Comparison with Germany

Germany’s senior politicians in the governing CDU party particularly, are largely engineers, scientists and businessmen[1].  In fact, by and large, the whole German governing caste is made up of people to whom analysing hard problems in quantitative terms and acting on the results is second nature.  This carries down into the general population where scientific and technical education is valued in all walks of life.  This is the single most important reason why Germany is the second biggest exporter of manufactures, after China, while Britain is tenth[2].

By complete contrast, the British governing caste is now, unlike Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet, made up of people whose whole education and political careers have been dominated by the fluent expression of opinions – rarely if ever informed by deep understanding of any actual problem.  To an astonishing degree the present cabinet (Conservative and Liberal) and shadow cabinet (Labour) are made up of those educated at Oxford University, having studied either Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) – Ed Miliband and five others), or History (David Cameron and George Osborne) or Law (Tony Blair).  None of these has had any discernible experience outside politics or journalism[3], nor can one expect their formal education to be of any use in tackling the three critical problems in Stephen Bush’s post on Energy and Ideology of October 3rd.

Energy and Environment

The concatenation of huge pressure from the Green lobby, the willing subservience to it by Blair and Cameron, and Britain’s ageing power stations (all but one of its nuclear stations due to close by 2023, 40-50% of its coal stations being closed by 2015 under the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive, has proved too much for the limited brain power of the present government and limited fortitude of its Civil Service advisors (some of whom, survivors of the old Department of Energy, should know better).

Britain’s energy supply is now in crisis with the threat of power cuts in 2016-17[4] having to be offset by French electricity imports (already nearly 10% of our output on occasion, more than wind and solar combined) from which the usual make do and mend will not rescue it.  It is a total disgrace – entirely the responsibility of British governments of the last 20 years led by Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron.

[1]  Prime Minister Merkel is a Physics PhD from Leipzig.  Her husband, Joachim Sauer, is Chemistry Professor at the Humbolt University in Berlin.

[2]  This background however has not prevented Germany from making a serious mistake in embracing wind power in a huge way – which they clearly now regret.

[3]  Philip Hammond, Defence Secretary, son of a civil engineer, First class honours in PPE at Oxford, is a notable exception to this generalisation, having served 6 years in medical equipment manufacturers Speywood Laboratories – and it shows in his handling of the Defence portfolio.

[4]  See “Secure Energy Strategy” by Bush and MacDonald on this website.

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One Response to “Britain’s Governing Caste Unequipped to Tackle its Main Problems”

  1. Ageing Albion says:

    The other great deficiency among the political class (on whom Peter Oborne wrote an invaluable book a few years ago) is that they have never had the messy business of line managing employees in the private sector, where simply applying up the chain for more money from the government is not an option. This includes the European professional class, who are responsible for the ludicrous deluge of directives and European Court of Justice rulings in this field.

    Thus when Harriet Harman says on Question Time that she achieved much legislation supporting women in the workforce, she fails utterly to understand that she in fact made it impossible for private sector employers, particularly small businesses, to hire women of childbearing age, since the maternity pay requirements are too onerous and they are effectively unsackable.

    As ever, the best of intentions provides the worst of results …

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