All governments of all colours have good Ministers and incompetent Ministers. Tony Blair's government has certainly had its share of the latter. Ruth Kelly's performance as Education Secretary was shocking and she hasn't been any better in her current role. This got me thinking about whether she is actually the most incompetent Minister of the last ten years. Does she have any serious competition?
So, let's have your nominations for Labour's Most Incompetent Minister over the last decade and your reasons...
PS Why do I have a feeling I am going to regret opening this Pandora's Box?!
UPDATE: Once I have received the nominations I'll run a poll. Don't forget some of the earlier examples of incompetent Labour Ministers...
Hewitt, no question.....
Hmm actually, what about Beckett? No, no, its Blunkett! Having said that Clarke was useless... No got it, it was Reid! Er, on the other hand....
Caroline Flint for being anti-fun and a pious puritan. :)
That's like asking who's the most pregnant in a maternity ward. Here's a top 5.
1.Any Home Secretary
2. Any Health Secretary (Dobson in Particular)
3.Prescott X 5
4.Any Defence Secretary (Hoon and Browne in close competition)
5.Any Defra Minister
Perhaps a question asking Labour's most competent minister might be an easier task.
Yes Hewitt ,IT ,Doctors ,looking thick ,speaking out of her ----.
We only get what we vote in.
Iain - who do you think has been Labour's most competent Minister.
(and keep it interesting by not saying Frank Field)
It has to be Beckett. Anyone who could preside over the farm payments fiasco (though typically for NuLab without accepting any responsibility) has got to be the worst. Quite how that abysmal failure qualified her for promotion to Foreign Secretary beggars belief. Either money changed hands (perhaps to get her peerage) or she’s got the dirt on Blair.
Glass House, that is a very interesting question. I shall reflect on it, Maybe I will do that as a competition as well. Off the top of my head, I'd say Darling. Safe pair of hands, and all that.
Patsy Hewitt....brief was beyond her at T&I, and, whilst she seems to have shown a genuine commitment both to the NHS and getting out and about, her handling of junior doctor recruitment is a scandal.
Nick Brown - for Foot & Mouth? The scars are still visible in the South-west and Cumbria.
John Reid - for signing contracts with consultants, GPs and other NHS staff that directly caused the NHS to 'blow the vote' (spend more than it's budgeted allocation) for the first time in its history, and to try and frustrate the smoking ban - and then buggering off to leave Hewitt to pick up the mess.....for his time elsewhere simply as a bully.
Dead heat between Hewitt, Hodge and Harman
Surely the only point of New Labour having Prescott on board was so that, when this question was asked, he was the answer?
Darling !!! Are you serious the man responsible for speed cameras that do not work cost a fortune and predate on the law abiding.
I agree with Canvas by the way that Caroline Flint has done her bit to suck the joy out of life
Dunno about most imcompetent minister, but at least she actually looks female in this photo!
Even her t*ts look alright.
(shame she talks like a boy sucking a shuttlecock)
Maybe Gordon will keep her on after all?
The only competency that Labour ministers have shown over the last ten years has been the ability to feather their own nests whilst screwing the country into the ground at the same time.
mandelson: for imposing blair on us. swiftly followed by that twerp George Robinson. fancy banning Gun Clubs and then running off to the UN to make war. Having said that whom is worthy of their pay within the ranks of new labour. My limited language excludes me from expressing my true sentiments. veracity, mendacity, venality,counterfeit, charlatan , and duplicitous all come to mind, but how do you fit them all together.
Maybe a more important but related question is why there have been so many incompetent ministers, and secondly whether Cameron's ministers will be any better.
One reason is Blair's sofa-government contempt for parliament, and another is the elimination of local democracy - and that was started by Thatcher.
Is Cameron really going to change either of these disastrous developments? Since Cameron models himself on Blair, surely we should expect more of the same?
It is a Truth universally acknowledged that a young woman like Mrs Kelly in possession of so many infelicitous Ministerships must be in want of a Success
.... but is it fair to blame Mrs Kelly for the HIPS shambles
The name Mrs Yvette Balls springs to mind .... and what part did that Treasury Champion Mr Ed Cooper play in this
.... or do we detect the influence of our next Dear Leader Mr Brown, who has presided over so much worthy Government expenditure
eg all those Glossy Anti-Smoking Brochures being so widely distributed at such lavish expense
eg the Energy Trust's sponsorship of David Starkey's TV series on Monarchy
eg all those new Parking Meters, Speed Camera, Road Bumps etc
eg all those Pop-Radio adverts sponsored by the Criminal Justice Appeal Board or seeking Foster-Parents for Derby Children in Council Care or threatening prosecution for :
* employers for giving people jobs (age & disability discrimination)
* employees for taking jobs (mis=completing social-security & tax-credit claims)
* smokers & Car-Tax non-payers & TV Licence-Dodgers
Yr obedeint servant etc
Wreck it and run Reid. He must know some secrets to still be in a job.
How can someone be more totally incompetent that another?
Better to shorten the list and just ask who is NOT totally incompetent and leave it at that.
Silly question. Whether minister P is 97.4% incompetent and minister H 96.8% incompetent is pretty meaningless and immaterial. To show any meaningful differences, you'd have to use a log scale, and.........zzzz.
Much more interesting is looking at able ministers. Assuming Field and Hoey are givens, I nominate Peter Mandleson. He was one of the very few who wasn't too busy/self-important/thought-he-could-rely-on-charm to actually read his red boxes. And he had the respect of his civil servants.
Brown himself has been pretty bad - sale of nation's gold reserves and tax credits are every bit as incompetent as some of the other entries, but with bigger numbers involved.
Hewitt is an obvious choice but...
Hodge: for being an Industry Minister with absolutely no knowledge or understanding of industry whatsoever! A Shadow Trade and Industry Minister once speculated on the question you have just asked and after naming a few culprits just said "Margaret Hodge" before guffawing loudly and not needing to give any explanation.
Hilary Armstrong as Chief Whip: New Labour seem proficient at being able to appoint people to areas they have no competance in (see above for classic example) but Armstrong as Chief Whip took this to a new level. She had absolutely no whipping qualities and failed very publicly and obviously to do her duty on several occasions.
(Tax credits ,IR35, Mapeley)
I think Kelly is far from the worst. Hewitt should be on any shortlist for combining incompetence with arrogance, but Prezza gets it for me. His performance has been uniformly sub-normal.
Dead heat between Prescott and Byers.
Kelly and Hewitt run them close.
As for most competent-I can't think of one (Hilary Benn-perhaps). Field wasn't there long enough to count.
Slightly off tack but g eagle may have already spotted a contender for this title in a Brown administration.Yvette Cooper was warned repeatedly that HIPs was a disaster waiting to happen but naturally she knew better.Because of her husband,Kelly will get the blame and she will get high office notwithstanding that Yvette from 'Allo 'Allo would make a better minister.On your present question,a dead heat between Beckett and Prescott.
No way is Ruth Kelly the most incompetent.
John Reid, David Blunkett and John Prescott are way out in front of her.
Oh, and Margaret Beckett and Patricia Hewitt.
You know what, Iain,it would have been easier if you had asked us to list the most 'competent'.
I am surprised there is any debate. For sheer inability to do the job, it has to be Prescott. Others may have struggled and performed poorly, but Prescott was never even close.
For coompetent ministers, Darling, Straw & Cook. In my book Brown fails to make the grade, not for selling gold reserves (a poor trading judgement) and tax credits (poor implementation), but for excessive legislation doubling the tax legislation in 10 years (and much of it revised repealed in those 10 years) and for the most dishonest massaging of the public accounts to keep PFI projects off the books. Enron's directors would have loved the ay Brown changed the government accounting rules when the NAO wanted to classify some of the PFI projects as on balance sheet.
Don't forget Stephen Lyers (sorry, Byers) aka Bozo for his efforts in replacing Railtrack with Failtrack.
Oh heck, I forgot Gordon Brown!
Frank Dobson and John Prescott would have to slug it out between them.
Isn't it amazing how quickly the Jeckyll and Hyde characters change between newmania and more vulgar than a vulcans vulva?
Come come folks, have you all forgotten that little twerp Byers, the poly lecturer who should never have got beyound his local council and who has cost us a stonking amount of money by his rail deceit?
And what about the self-proclaimed 'Most Important Asian in Briatain', Keith Vaz?
Estelle Morris - out of her depth as Education Secretary and any other ministerial post held before or after.
Hewitt takes the award for 2006/07. How many billions has her department wasted?!
Kelly is, rightly, getting a rough ride today - though it is no thanks to Yvette Cooper as well that the HIPs fiasco is where it is. They should take the Bert & Ernie award for joint stupidity.
As for worst Labour Secretary of State of the past ten years, no one can come near John Prescott, surely?!
It has to be Patsy Hewitt surely?
Hewitt blew it.
Hodge was a bodge.
Prezza made a messofit.
Blunkett flunked it.
Beckett? Forget it.
Browne? A clown.
Best - Hoey
Worst - Byers
I vote twice for Patsy.
I'm with Andy - Reid for signing the consultants' contracts without asking how much they would cost first and then emasculating the top level of civil servants in the Dept of Health so Hewittless couldn't do anything to get out of the mess he'd left behind.
'Incompetent' is a narrower brief than 'Evil', but Gordon Brown still takes the crown:
direct and indirect taxation at squeaking levels; high interest rates; huge trade deficit;debt overhang that terrifies;grotesque expansion in non-productive sectors; shrinkage of manufacturing industry;extensive and uncontrolled links between government suppliers and spending departments;means test induced growth in moral hazard...
Other incompetencies listed in other comments.
It's unfair to blame Kelly for the HIPs shambles, especially if Ben Brogan's story is true that she was prevented from ditching it earlier by Yvette Cooper's threat to resign.
But the wider question you pose is a very interesting one.
In terms of leaving a trail of destruction in his wake at every department he's been in, the winer surely has to be John Reid. But in terms of breathtaking incompetence over a particular issue, the one that most immediately springs to mind is Stephen Byers and Railtrack.
I don't think anyone has mentioned Des Browne yet - what a clot!
Milburn past experience at the Haze of Dope bookshop, becomes Health Secretary.
Broon - continuous stream of overpayment of Working Family Tax Credits, longer and more difficult income tax forms, raid on pension funds, sale of gold reserves. Never around to take criticism or defend policies. Acquiessed in renationalisation of Railtrack, but keeps Network Fail out of public sector accounts. Use of PFI to hide real level of future state spending. Alledgly bailing out Rover to save Labour marginals in Brum.
Kelly - patronising and hopeless as Education Sec - has to 'resort' to private sector to educate son with 'special needs' without actually specifying what they might be.
Jowell - raiding Heritage Lottery Funds and Arts Funds to divert money into the Olympics, without any idea about scale of required sums for The Games. Wouldn[t understand how to set up a budget or cash flow to save her life, but then again would you want her to sign a mortgage form?
Hodge - sanctimious and pompus poseur, about as useful as a roof windmill in Notting Hill.
Byers great negociator, never to blame for mistakes or leaks over Rover, Railtrack; it was always the other parties' fault for misunderstanding his words at the time.
I think anyone from a farming background will tell you that Nick Brown's handling of the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak in 2001 was a complete and utter disaster, that saw millions of pounds lost, thousands of cattle, sheep and other livestock slaughtered, and destroyed countless businesses and livelihoods.
Compared to most other ministers in this list (Hewitt, Reid, Beckett, Clarke) Nick Brown will more than likely get a promotion under Gordon.
Kelly for bumbling ineptitude certainly. But if we're talking about actual money thrown away it can only be our esteemed Chancellor Brown. Tax credits (for which he never answers) are only the tip of the iceberg.
Byers was the most mendacious with what he did to Railtrack, but in its way I suppose it was successful - renationalisation without compensation. But, as I recall he was pretty bad on other things too.
Hewett might have been very poor at Health but actually she was not bad at the DTI - lots of quite sensible and pragmatic stuff was done on regulation and corporates, and the Rover farce over the last election was actually more a hangover from Byers.
Yvette Cooper (Mrs Balls) is pretty bad - and I understand deeply disliked by her civil servants for her rudeness too. As were Reid and Blunkett.
Chris Smith was fairly awful as Culture Secretary, despite the popular move of abolishing museum charges. It was he who started the Wembley mess and got conned out of insisting that home Test Matches must be live on terrestial TV - the fruits started last week when for the first time they are only on Sky. To be fair to Blair, Smith was in the first Cabinet because he was an elected Shadow Cabinet member and he had the sense to move him away from the more important Health portfolio he was shadowing - but then unfortunately put Dobson in his place.
Baroness Jay wasn't up to much, starting off the House of Lords reform mess. Harriet Harman was pretty hopeless in a real Department at the beginning, even if she may have been OK as Solicitor General. But, hey, it's the Labour Party so let's promote her to Deputy Leader!
But, sorry, it's not really a contest - it has to be Prescott (as a Minister, if not as a Party fixer). In fact he's the best advertisement there is for the accuracy of selection at 11. To make this exercise worthwhile, you'll have to have a second prize as well.
The better ones? Actually, I quite like both Falknener and Clarke. Clarke particularly was by all accounts in most ways a pretty competent Minister, ironically. Hilary Benn is probably the most competent of the present lot, although Overseas Development is probably a rather easier portfolio than many.
Hewitt, Dobson, Reid, Reid, Reid, Reid, Byers, Morris, Darling, Hoon, the list goes on
Problem is, we get who we deserve and the Opposition has pretty much given Blair and his subordinates a free run since 97.
Isn't it amazing how quickly the Jeckyll and Hyde characters change between newmania and more vulgar than a vulcans vulva?
Change the record! Thanks
I think you could make a better Cabinet from bloggers.
Prescott is exempt for being entertainment only, he was never actually meant to do anything. The winner has got to be the PRIME minister. As the country's great hope for the future in '97 he's GOT to be the most incompetent! He shouldn't get honours, he should be exiled.
It would be far simpler if we could nominate the most 'competent' Minister.
As it is, we're spoilt for choice when choosing on the basis of incompetence.
The HIPS shambles is directly attributable to Mrs Balls. One has to have some sympathy for Kelly. There she was, standing at the box attempting to defend the indefensible bint who was sitting immediately behind her. Worse than that, when Brown takes over - if he hasn't already - Kelly will be out and Cooper (or is that Balls) will be in.
Who'd be a Labour politician?
When you put your Poll together Iain do you think you could also leave a space for those voting to identify which particular cock-up(s) they associate with their choice of candidate? Mind you, it might take up a lot of bandwidth.
Hewitt Blair Brown Blunkett Reid Clarke Kelly Dobson Davies Hoon H/Vain and many others sunk in the mists of time are all quite splendid ministers.
Well, compared to Two Jabs only, of course.
Prescan't for me ! Took incompetance to an art form.
Worst, by a short neck, Margaret Beckett.
Honourable mention to Estelle Morris for at least realising that she was useless.
Best, a rather shorter list of candidates, Mo Mowlem.
I cannot think of one that has manged to do their job at all well. They have lied, cheated, mislead the public and parliament and broken criminal laws to a man and it is this behaviour that is directly leading to the breakdown of the rule of law.
I am still waiting for the CPS to do their job and bring charges against the obvious criminal activity of those invoilved in cash-for-peerages
Glass House said: " who do you think has been Labour's most competent Minister."
Easy, David Miliband. :)
easy. two words...
Spent his time chasing skirt while the Home Office fell apart.
Most incompetant Labour Ministers:
Paul Boateng - if your tactic is to simply steamroller your opponents you shouldn't look like you're steamrollering them.
David Lammy - so out of his depth you feel emabarressed for the boy.
Lord Falconer - a neverending saga of fiascoes.
John Prescott - did anyone understand what he was doing? Did he?
Most competant Ministers:
Baroness Scotland - top Labour performer in the Lords
Nick Raynsford - new his brief and argued for what he believed in
Ben Bradshaw - a constantly assured performer
Mo Mowlam - undertook the task given to her to the letter
David Blunkett - drove through his agenda wherever he went
Frank Dobson was dismal.
David Blunkett was actually a pretty good education secretary. If you could seperate the 1997 to 2001 Blunkett from the 2001-2005 version he might be the best new Labour minister.
I am absolutely astounded that nobody has nominated the 'First Minister' ..... surely he is far and away the most incompetent. He is the one that appointed all of these useless tossers and has presided over the gradual destruction of this country.
The most incompetent minister? ..... I give you Tony Bliar.
Labour's Most Incompetent Minister is Tony Blair himself.
In my mind it's a given.... Kelly wins hands down! Obviously for her performance as a minister, but also for having one ghastly jacket for the past three years...
ed: Did you pinch that flag from some transport cafe in a lay-by?
Tessa Jowell for the Olympics budget fiasco... but no, there are far worse Ministers out there.
So many to choose from and so little time...When Labour goes about its business, since almost all its ideas are founded on either malign or false premises, does it really matter anyhow?
I cannot agree with you about Ben Dover-Bradshaw. He has been associated with MAFF/DEFRA/Animal welfare etc throughout the period of utter ballsup.
Although HIPS were a fiasco, the lovely Patricia's "management" of the NHS has affected lives and careers. As the ghastly and sinister John Reid knows exactly what he is doing, my nomination for the Most Incompetent Minister goes to Hewitt, whose gob should now be filled with a mixture of bull's manure, superglue and chloroform by the nearest junior doctor.
Red Dawn Primarolo and her master Brown ? Blair was compelled to apologise to Parliament for their tax credits incompetence, which as we know he doesn't do too eagerly or too often.
My top five:
Hewitt for being Hewitt, having a voice that sounds like she's talking down to people, and the doctors mess.
Gordon Brown for pensions, hidden taxes, and the non tax cut.
Caroline Flint for never, ever, ever answering a question and thinking rudeness equals wit.
Reid for messing up every department he headed.
And of course Prescott.
Has to be Harriet Harman- even Blair sacked her for incompetence and now she wants to be deputy leader. Is this because she's the most incompetent to take over from Prescott?
Hmmm.. for me it has to be Margaret Beckett. There may be a few more incompetent ministers BUT she got a promotion on the back of the DEFRA Rural Payments Agency fiasco over the 'Single Farm Payment' [named after the number of payments they actually made correctly].
Although Steven Byers comprehensive ruination of public transport while exacerbating the culture of spin / presentation trumps delivery, must get a dishonourable mention.
Though I must disagree with Guido's point about Des Browne - he, like Ruth Kelly, just happens to be holding the grenade which BuffHoon pulled the pin out of, when the music stops..
The OverPaymaster General Primarolo has got to be near the top for her role in tax credits, e.g. per the PAC earlier this month
"Tax credits suffer from the highest rates of error and fraud in central government" and "The Department does not have up to date information on levels of claimant error and fraud in tax credits."
However, why blame Dawn, she's only taking the flak for Gordon's work. So I nominate Gordon Brown especially when you chuck in his destruction of British competitiveness.
Could we not do a book/trilogy on Labour's Incompetence?
Does Hirst only ever post on here to insult people and make baseless accusations?
Anyone in doubt of his sick, twisted mind should read his blog where he directly accuses the McCanns of fabricating the abduction of their daughter for their own personal profit.
He deserves no sympathy whatsover.
For the record:
Most incompetent minister: Prescott (most berated even by civil servants who LIKED the guy)
Most competent minister: Jack Straw (although it pains me to say it, he probably just pips Darling)
D Lammy - unprecedented balls up over debate on Mental Incapacity Bill. Something similar happened when he was in Health but media didn't notice as it happened in a Committee Room.
Paul Murphy - quietly competent over long period in Northern Ireland
Derek Foster - Didn't he resign after one day in 1997?
On "competence" were he still alive, I might rate Robin Cook as the best.
Funny voice, silly hair and I didn't like his politics, but he was an excellent parliamentary debater and honourably resigned on principle over Iraq.
He at least tried to apply his principles to his politics (unlike most of the other New Labour slimers) and he had interests outside of politics (walking & horse-racing) where he was good friends with some non-politicos.
Gotta give him credit for that.
This from a Times Article
"Mr Brown was not enthusiastic for the invasion of Iraq. He had to give the policy his support; indeed, he had to vote for it. Otherwise he would have had to resign, like Robin Cook. Yet his endorsement was reluctant and minimalist."
So, his job came before his principles?
What kind of "moral compass" is that?
Paddy may have the floor for me.
We should follow this with "Most Incompetent Tory minister of the last Ten Years" shouldn't we?
What's that you say? There haven't been any? None at all? How could that be? Because they make even New Labour strugglers look good from the shadows? What's that the Tories have lost three successive General Elections?
Oh dear, I'm sorry I asked.
What's that you say? And know they've made a Blair-lite spin meister leader? And in searching for a clause 4 moment he's taken out all the Tory sacred cows so that the party in the country know that only Labour have any policies at all?
Byers is a star on the one issue he is hated for here. It was investor and management greed that took the rail back into public ownership. Discuss.
Buff Hoon, or TCH, never gave the impression of competence at Defence. Can't imagine any service personnel wanting him back at the MoD. He probably thinks that Just in Time is a civil servant.
Darling competent? As far as I can recall he has done nothing of note at Transport except find new ways of extracting more money from taxpayers.
Beckett, the unacceptable face of NuLab careerism.
Spare a thought for poor Estelle Mowwis, who wesigned as Education Secwetawy because, in a moment of bweathtaking honesty for a Labour minister,felt she was not up to the job.
There is some honour among thieves.
Her wesignation letter to the PM included:
"I am less good at strategic management of a huge department and I am not good at dealing with the modern media."
(dictated by Zenith Voice Recognition Algorithm Technology)
Blunkett, without a doubt. he is a right wing socialit who is crap at both.
Chris Paul 2.55:
You really are a desperately sad individual, aren't you?
*Vulvas hand forms a shape akin to that of a man clasping a banana and slowly oscillates it from side-to-side in front of my face, in a rhythmic motion, as I gesticulate my opinion of Chris Paul*
"I want to make you happy Darling. I want to spread pepper all over your pretty body and then sneeze all over you!"
Darling: "Really sir, I must protest!"
"Buff" Hoon - Defence
Patricia Hewitt - Health, with extra credit for DTI
Blunkett - every position he held
Keith Vaz - Europe
Brown - Chancellor
Harriet Harman - Social Security
... erm, how many nominations are we allowed?
Forgot Beckett in the FO. Blindingly obvious before she started she was completely unsuited to the role, she has been even worse than expected.
ed: Did you pinch that flag from some transport cafe in a lay-by?
No, it's a photo. Is your dislike of England the reason you bore others to death on blogs?
I agree with Ed
Which to choose as they are all ......
Brown hides unless everything is going his way.
Blair flaps his and uses his salesmans spiel.
Lots of the others just bluster and tell porkies.
But Prescott - he takes the cake - and eats it and eats its, well it is absolutely obvious, and in fact he has got a lot fatter just lately, heaven knows when he has to return from his latest freebie jaunt, he will need two seats on the plane.
He is definitely the most bigotted, narrow-minded, inefficient AND greedy man in this ..... government. And he has caused such havoc in any area or policy that he has been involved with.
Dear lain: i have trolled through your comments observations, and am unable to find a mention of that Jowell woman. What have I missed??
Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo ( just read the latest Private Eye)
Goldsmith. If the man valued principles over party preferment, he would not have been so spineless as to roll over on his "advice" on the legality of the war - advice that got us mired in Iraq, with the whole world now awarding us "nil points" as a result.
Although I admit, when you sit down and think, there is a Cast of Thousands....
Lord Bach who as Defence Procurement Minister single-handedly ruined our already ill-equipped armed forces and then moved on single-handedly to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of farmers with the ill-fated IT farm payments scheme. Surely the amount of misery and distress he has caused is unequalled.
more vulgar than a Volvos exhaust: I have yet to see or hear any evidence that Madeliene was abducted. Stick to the facts man, all we do know is that she is missing. The rest is hearsay, media hype and peoples emotions getting the better of them so they don't think straight.
Reid 9 jobs in 10 years take some beating...
I feel overwhelmed, being so incredibly spoilt for choice: Mandelson, Robinson, Morris, Harman, Kelly, Prescott, Browne (Defence), Alexander (Scottish Polls), Beckett (Farms and Abroad), Brown (Pensions, Gold, Tax Credits, being Macavity), Hoon,Hewitt, Byers (porkies, Blunkett (Two resignations), Clarke, Reid, Cooper.......
This is an impossible choice to make, so many to choose from. But, if push comes to shove, it has to be the Dirty Man of Europe, Alistair Darling.
Darling has so messed up the green paper for airport expansion, that Stop Stansted Expansion and the Heathrow campaigners have taken it to he cleaners in the courts - and continue to do so. he government has no chance with this.
Zounds, Stansted people will blockade the bodykin airport if we have to to stop this.
It really has to be Patricia Hewitt. Most of the ministers have at least some kind of saving grace, but I really can't see her's.
Iain Dale said...
Off the top of my head, I'd say Darling. Safe pair of hands, and all
Oh, no, Iian! How could you choose the dirty man of Europe? I've just suggested him as the most incompetent for the mess he made of the airports expansion green paper :)
If you're going to try and pretend to be me, at least try and spell my tag right :-)
Or, you could try getting your own tag chum?
Go on, be a sport :-D
How about Gordon Brown: has presided over the gradual destruction of the strong fiscal position that NuLab inherited, the pensions fiasco, the tax credits fiasco, the selling of the country's gold reserves fiasco, RPI at a 15(?) year high fiasco, the disappearing into thin air whenever thers any bad news fiasco, pfi fiasco, is there anything which has gone right for him???
Apart from Frank Field and John Hutton has there been a NuLab minister that was actually competent in their role?
I can't think of one
Most of them seem to be middle-manager public sector types or lawyers way out of their depth
all of the above
New Labour's Most Incompetent Minister: Gordon Brown.
He has repeatedly failed to listen to advice, costing those with private pensions and the public billions. He has expanded the public sector pay roll leading to public sector pension commitments of nearly £700 billion.
"...and peoples emotions getting the better of them so they don't think straight."
Does anyone else appreciate the irony in this statement?
Has anyone mentioned Beverly ' let them in' Hughes yet? She should get a mention...
But it has to be Prescott for me, followed by Jowells. With Brown as the most damaging.
Ruth Kelly is actually one of the better ones - as honest and thoughtful as any minister. But cursed in the policies she's expected to peddle.
Not sure about most incompetent, but if we're talking most dangerous, I nominate the "golden" Balls couple.
This is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Much easier to name those who don't induce vomit:
Robin Cook (for Iraq).
Estelle Morris (for having the courage to acknowledge that she wasn't up to snuff).
Because it is one subject of government policy on which I am reasonably well informed, I'd have to nominate one of the Children's Ministers (Rosie Winterton, Margaret Hodge, Beverley Hughes), or one of the ministers responsible for the family courts (Derry Irvine, Geoffrey Filkin, Harriet Harman).
Given the new language policy here, I'll refrain from voicing my true opinion of these servile, empty-headed, child-abusing apparatchiks - none of whom has ever had the faintest grasp of the realities of their brief.
If I was forced to name just one, it would have to be Harriet Harman, if only because she now fancies herself as deputy PM - although the spectacle of watching her trying to fill John Prescott's amply vacuous shoes (both of them) is highly tempting...
In the absence of The Harridan, my personal choice would have to be Enver Hodge.
I should have added: ultimate blame, as others have observed, of course lies with the organ-grinder.
Pretty dismal bunch. But have you ever considered a Labour prime minister's dilemma? The pool of talent he has to draw on is not much bigger than a washing-up bowl. And as with any washing-up bowl there are some pretty unsavory items lurking just below the surface.
You cannot include either Prescott or Reid. Let's face it, they are both supremely competent in retaining their massive dosh-infusion, their flunkeys, junkets and status while being both serial womn-harrassers and functional incompetents. Now that's a form of success that eluded Blunkett, Byers and (skip the women)Mandelson.
By the same logic, the most incompetent has to be Charles Clarke for falling on his sword for things which were really largely the making of his predecessors. Too sensitive by half. The only one to touch him really must be Hain, for obviously not having a clue what a total berk he looks every time he opens his mouth - or doesn't.
"have you ever considered a Labour prime minister's dilemma?"
Not for a minute.
I vividly recall once hearing a conservative German politician respond in interview as follows:
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned in life?
A: Don't bite off more than you can chew.
I have a teeny-weeny bit of sympathy for Bliar over this. The pool of talent available to him for the selection of ministers is (of course) limited to the Labour members in either House. And who are they, exactly? Polytechnic lecturers, failed lawyers (like Bliar himself), Personel managers in third-rate companies, PR execs, trades union time-servers. And those are the successful ones.
From that bunch of dross I would defy anybody to assemble a team that could organise a wank-up in a monastery.
It's a great tribute to the Civil Service that the record of these clowns has not been a lot worse.
Bloodyhell, where do you start. All of them!!! But if I can only choose one it would have to be 2 Jags, the very existance of this man beggars belief, thats before we consider he was actually elected and then allowed to be deputy PM. It is truly frightening.
We're forgetting the junior ranks here: Burnham, Rooker, Flint, McNulty, Hughes, etc are all unfit for office.
Harriet harmthem - Awful in the first Labour term. Charles Clarke - Just dreadful and not up to the job clearly and Keith Vaz - Bloody useless at everything.
Ruining the future for most of us when we become pensioners
Being the dead hand of the Treasury that asset strips the English in favour of the Scots
Ensuring the super rich continue to avoid paying tax
Having tax rules that favour buy to invest houses over buy to live in houses
With his anti-english pro-Scottish bigotry destroying the union.
being the defining fault-line in the West-Lothian question
and finally for existing at all.
Roof, not only is she seriously and serially incompetent she has the saggiest and most unattractive breasts it's ever been my mispleasure to see!!
Red Dawn Primarolo
Tax Credits fiasco
Blair,for doing his worst to wreck the Country. Ruined the reputation of the Country internationaly by losing the moral high ground over Iraq. Failed to define a sensible population policy for the country that took account of security, social cohension and national infrastructure. Allowed circles to be run round him on illegal immigration and asylum. All fine words and failed actions.
Oh so many to choose, got to be the large man himself Charles Clarke, former Home Sec and ill tempered chap.
Fact is that Blair ran out of decent candidates from his own cabal some time ago so was forced to over-promote his 'babes'. Most useless - Harman and Kelly. Most likely to reemain over-promoted under Brown - Yvette (estury enlish) Cooper/Balls - I wonder why?
We really are spoilt for choice on this one.
Don't think anyone has mentioned Hilary Armstrong - the Chief Whip who can't count. (Or the fact that Steve Byers couldn't get basic sums right when he was a schools minister.)
Nor has anyone mentioned Hoon - the defence secretary who sent our troops into battle with radios which didn't work so they had to use their own mobile phones, or into Iraq without the right body armour.
Hewitt is terrible, but she is not in fact the worst health secretary of all time: that title goes to Frank "Dead Head" Dobson.
Up to the point of her resignation I would have described Estelle Morris as one of the worst Education ministers of all time, but at least she deserves some credit for realising that she wasn't up to the job and resigning, which is unusual for a minister in any government and doubly so in this one.
There have, sadly, been sleazy individuals in most governments, but very few were as shameless as Keith Vaz.
I agree with those who have nominated David Lammy: on the one occasion I met him he seemed totally out of his depth and did not appear to understand the question I asked him.
In terms of the damage caused by his bad decisions, the worst is Brown - pensions is at the top of the list but his other tax rises, beareaucratic controls, gold reserves, means tests, accounting standards, have done more economic damage than any other set of decisions since going back on the gold standard eighty years ago. minister in history. (Sorry, Winston!) However, Brown is also responsible for the one, solitary, really good decision that Labour made - delegating to the MPC of the Bank of England the power to independently set interest rates.
Browne and Beckett both did dire harm to agriculture and the countryside with the assistance of Lord Bach - Foot and Mouth has been mentioned, and failure to pay the Single Farm payment - what has not been mentioned is that the Single Farm Payment includes targetting of "Exceptionally Deprived Areas" with the deliberate intention of making them even more deprived.
Prescott is beyond parody - the man who is proud of driving two jags while his department was trying to stop councils providing new houses with more than an average of 1.5 parking spaces, the man behind the regional assembly nightmare, who did vast damage to the planning system, who was responsible for council tax but didn't pay his own.
But the person responsible for appointing all these buffoons, and who has personally destroyed what was left of trust in politics and politicians, is Tony Blair.
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