01 January, 2010

Clean sweep

Is there any risk in voting in a brand new administration for Anguilla in 2010, none of whom has ever served in government before?  The answer is, of course not.  When the Torries win power in England in 2010, I doubt that one of the new Ministers will ever have served before.  Every one of them will be first timers, and they will serve efficiently and well. If they follow the rules of the Westminster System.
Under our system of government, Ministers should rely on their Permanent Secretaries and their competent, trained, permanent staff to do the actual work of each Department.  Ministers are not expected to do the detailed work of any Department or Ministry.  They are not supposed to get involved in the details of administration.  Ministers are only expected to lay down policy, and to supervise how the administration carries out their policy decisions.
The mistake we made in the past was perversely to permit Ministers to interfere in the details of administration.  Ministers made planning decisions for individual projects, instead of setting down a policy and leaving it to the administration to carry out the policy.  The Chief Minister decided who should get a work permit instead of an expert committee carrying out government policy.  The result was that his friends got work permits, and the rest sucked salt.   The Chief Minister, by abusing his work permit powers, decided which thieving employee could be fired by a hotel or restaurant, not the mediation and judicial system set up by the labour law. There are a dozen other examples of this type of mismanagement that any one of us could cite.  It has gone on for some 15 years.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who should have known better, permitted us to mis-govern ourselves in this way.  Their School of Government was ready and willing to come in and give training in the role and responsibilities of Ministers and the administration.  Instead, our politicos were permitted to create their own half-cocked system that we now have.  That is why I say that a great deal of the responsibility for the lack of any principled government in Anguilla over the past 15 years lies on the Governors' heads.
If the system is allowed to work correctly, the way it was intended to, there is in my view absolutely no risk in having a clean sweep in government this year.

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