The Third Way: Officialdom

In a nice display of bipartisanship, Iain Dale has a post quoting Britain’s former Labour party Home Secretary David Blunkett approvingly. Blunkett says:

“…The alternative to politics is officialdom. And there is a trend in all three major political parties to believe that if difficult questions of reform need to be answered without damagaing the credibility of politicians, they should be taken out of their hands. Trouble is, you simply can’t. Just because someone has been appointed to some agency to make decisions doesn’t mean they don’t have political views. It means they have kept their head down or – even more damagingly – they have never had to make a decision in their lives. It also means that when they get it wrong they can’t be punished by the voters, like politicians are…What we need is quite the opposite – a transparent, open political debate, with decisions taken by politicans who respond to voters’ concerns, knowing that if they don’t their careers can be ended with the stroke of a pen at election time.”

Quite right and as true on this side of the pond as it is on that. Another problem that Blunkett doesn’t address is the addictiveness of legislators delegating power to agencies. Once you do it, you have a tendency to do it again, and again. We need to hold legislators responsible for the regulations made in their name, which means it is time to look at serious regulatory reform.