Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Family Business.

Political nepotism is back in fashion, with Michael Martin is allegedly haggling with Labour to allow his son to succeed him as an MP. Tamsin Dunwoody tried this earlier in the year, across the Atlantic a Kennedy is being lined up to replace a Clinton as the senator from New York.

This is a shame as in general people who rise because of who they are rather than what they have done are less able. I'm trying to remember a quote by AJP Taylor to the effect that even the most successful European monarchs were only of the competence of a mediocre politician like Ramsay MacDonald. This might be overstating it but it contains a germ of truth.

What we really need is a system whereby the offspring of the political elite are shuffled off to somewhere that they cannot enjoy a political career. The House of Lords used to fulfill this function, as the prominent politicians became peers and their children succeeded them to the House of Lords from where it is very hard to become a top ranking politician. There are really only two potential cabinet positions open to Lords so the potential for dynastic rule is minimised. It is notable that the most prominent current dynastic scion in British politics is Hilary Benn, son of Tony Benn who renounced his peerage. Had he accepted his role as Viscount Stansgate Tony Benn would never have become a cabinet minister and there would be a good chance that Hilary would not have even been considered as an MP.

1 comment:

Blognor Regis said...

The first woman MP to take her seat was semi-dynastic (Lady Boombastic) I suppose. Son was an MP too for a while I seem to recall.