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October 09, 2008


Frank H Little

More people should be saying this.


Hang on though, what would Ruth Kelly's skills actually be? In what fields is she particularly expert or knowledgeable?


I couldn't agree more with you.


I honestly don't know how capable Ruth Kelly is, but to my mind membership of groups like Opus Dei ranks alongside membership of the rolled up trouser brigade as suggesting either great gullibility or a willingness to pursue personal advantage regardless of the humiliations.
See for example http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1568302/Book-lifts-cowl-on-%27misogynist%27-Opus-Dei.html


"Her ... quality as a minister count for nothing": what had you in mind, Chris?


anyone with half a brain is stigmatized as an eccentric geek

Always been the way.


I had a look at Ruth Kelly's history -- as you should before you criticise. Age 21ish: Oxford PPE, Guardian contributor. Age 24ish: MSc Economics, LSE. Two year gap holiday between degrees? Age 26ish: Bank of England job, title sounds neutral. Age 29ish: MP.

And at age 40ish, she fancies a change. I have rarily agreed with her, but I wish her well so long as she uses her intelligence rather than connections to get on in life.

Ruth Kelly's experience suggests that political hot-housing is bad for us and bad for them. But it does not deliver any indications about non-hot-house politicians.


Judement comes from experience which is the record of making decisions and reflecting on the consequeneces.

How is this a 'fictious entity'?

Or are you suiggesting that some are born with judgement and others not?

Methinks you are confused and need a holiday (or a new editor)


I know you like heterodox thinking, so here goes (I would want you to get completely surrounded by acolytes).

It's a good career choice for Kelly to stand down now.

1)she likely to lose her marginal seat whatever happens at the next election, so it's a prudent move for her to avoid blotting her copy book
2)a career break can be refreshing, providing additional life experiences which ultimately contribute to extending the productive span of the career
3)making positive life choices (to spend time with young family) benefits quality of life and can prevent later regret and recriminations
4)taking a step back to reassess prevents loss of perspective and is a sign of the ability to make good judgement calls
5)she will have her pick of alternative jobs which will provide financial security for her family beyond the rewards of public service
6)the ability to contribute to political life is dependant on effort and imagination, not office
7)she is young enough to come back
8)she can find a more secure constituency to come back from which won't distract her attentions
9)using a combination of all of the above she can make a greater contribution than she has till now.

I think you are being particularly narrow-minded in you evaluation of positive qualities required in elected representatives. It's a big world out there and you can't discount the potential for differing opinion.

For example, re the LibDem leadership, Cable knows his strength on economic affairs is balanced by a weakness on social affairs and that his age counts against him when the need of the leader of the third party to build up and establish a profile over a period of decades.

Cable showed admirable humility to resist the false flattery of his opponents, because he simply did not qualify for that job (how many LibDems were pushing him for it) - it's a relatively modest political trap and anyone who honestly claims otherwise makes a fool of themselves or is foolishly recycling recieved propaganda (ouch).

Your cynicism about media manipulation perhaps reflects your own inculcation into the media circus and your own loss of judgement - perhaps it would be sensible for you to do a Ruth and take a holiday and 'reconnect' so that the quality of your blog posts don't drop any further.

Letters From A Tory

"Her high intelligence and quality as a minister"

Not sure Ruth Kelly's constant reshuffles and failure to make it to the top fit very well with your assertions....

Innocent Abroad

Another really good article, Chris: you're a gem!

Bagehot's distinction between the dignified and efficient parts of government comes to mind.

I've long had a nightmare in which a celeb (of the "stature" of one of the Beckhams, though I think they themselves are wholly apolitical) offers themselves, bankrolled by an expat multi-millionaire, on a right-wing populist ticket. In the nightmare they squelch UKIP and the BNP and hoover up 20% or so of the vote at the next election but one.


The youth fetishism in the UK really has run amok. Luckily, Palin here is tanking, found to have broken Alaska law with regard to abuse of power, and taking down the McCain ticket due to her patent lack of qualifications.

The thing that gets me is that Obama, at age 47, is a lot older than both Cameron and Clegg and has done a lot more with his life, and is even more older than Ed Milliband, the most plausible next Labour leader, and yet here in the States he had to move heaven and earth to fight back against the "inexperience" meme. And furthermore, it is quite plausible given how US politics work that assuming he serves two full terms, Hillary Clinton at age 68 would still be the most plausible candidate to replace him in 2016.

And this greater tilt towards age fits in the historical pattern; until 1989, more than a quarter century after JFK's assassination, the only US president to have been born after JFK was Jimmy Carter.

Likewise our lower-level elected officials; Ted Stevens and Frank Lautenberg both running for re-election to the Senate at age 84, and first-time Senate candidates this time including Al Franken (57), Ronnie Musgrove (52), Mark Udall (58, first elected to the lower house at age 48), Tom Udall (a youthful looking 60, first elected to the lower house at 50), Jeff Merkley (just about to turn 52), and Jim Gilmore (59).

Bob B

This IS bad news:

"Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Financial market turmoil may spark the longest U.S. recession in at least three decades, said Harvard University economist Martin Feldstein, a member of the committee that charts American business cycles.

"'This is going to be a longer recession than the last four, over three decades, where the average duration was about 12 months,' Feldstein, who retired in June as president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, said today in a Bloomberg Television interview. `I think it is going to be deeper in terms of decline' in output, he said."

Feldstein is one of the most senior and respected economists connected with the Republican Party. He served as a chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the early 1980s during the Reagan administration.

X Man

I think you are on to something but I don't agree with your conclusion. Today the average "pop band" is terrible, but the Rolling Stones still rock the house. QED.

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