Could I See the Job Description, Please?

For the last two years, George Osborne must have been odds on favourite to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer and this week it finally happened. Strangely he doesn’t come across as having been particularly prepared for this event, and has spent much of this week wandering Downing Street with a look of utter bewilderment plastered across his eminently slappable face.

On Twitter, I recently parodied Osborne’s meeting notes from the first cabinet meeting:

Osborne Meeting Notes

However, joking aside there is surely a big concern here. The UK’s economy is in a bad way – The Office for National Statistics’ figures showed, as of the end of 2009, that the UK national debt stood at £950.4bn – equivalent to 68.1% of GDP. In such dire times, what skills and qualifications should the person in charge of the economy have?

Let’s do a a little quiz and compare the appointment with what would happen in the private sector when a bank is interviewing to appoint their most senior economist:

We have two candidates – let’s call them Gideon and Vince.

  • Gideon studied Modern History at university. He got a 2:1, so we can safely say he is quite good at Modern History.
  • Vince studied Natural Sciences and Economics as an undergrad before completing a PhD in Economics. Vince has also lectured in Economics at LSE and been Chief Economist for Shell – one of the largest companies in the world.

Q: You are on the board of the bank. What is your response?

Those of you who answered “Give Vince the job!” are in fact wrong. The correct answer is, “How the fuck did a history grad, with no experience of economics, get this far in our selection process?

You may think this a harsh assessment, but I stress again the financial mire in which we find ourselves and ask you to bear in mind the importance of the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer in addressing this. My cynical side can’t help thinking the selection process was more along the lines of: “He may know fuck all about numbers, but he is my mate.”

Now you may think I’m singling out George Osborne unfairly. “After all”, you may say, “Teresa May knows fuck all about anything useful at all, and she’s in the cabinet.” This is entirely correct and I do not want to single Osborne out – more to use him as an extreme case of a general concern I have. Cabinet posts, while hugely important, rarely seem to be filled with the best person for the job. Should we not insist that our Education Secretaries have extensive experience of working in schools? That our Health Secretaries have extensive experience of working in the NHS, and that our Chancellors have extensive experience of finance and economics?

We will never know exactly what the decision making process was and perhaps there was a lot more to it than this but can anyone, hand on heart, say that George Osborne is the best possible person to take on such a crucial role at such a crucial time?

RedEaredRabbit

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About RedEaredRabbit
My name is RedEaredRabbit, King of Kings. Look on my works ye Mighty and despair.

4 Responses to Could I See the Job Description, Please?

  1. MacPsych says:

    Best possible person? Osborne isn’t even in the top 10! It’s scandalous, as is Teresa May’s appointment.

    • I think we have go so used to random people being assigned such important positions that we hardly notice anymore. Osborne has turned people’s heads because he is so massively out of his depth that it stands out. Nevertheless there are questions to be asked about a lot of them.

  2. TipYourHat says:

    maybe the modern history he *really* specialized in was the great depression. Let’s hope we’re not going there again.

  3. Aaron says:

    Theresa May is a homophobic Minister for Women and EQUALITY – go figure.
    23 Millionaires in the cabinet.
    What experience of anything do they have? They are professional politicians.

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