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What qualifies a politician to be a politician?

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  • 09-04-2019 9:15pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 1,931 ✭✭✭


    Just watching the news there and listening to Simon Harris, Mary Lou McDonald and Mattie McGrath commenting on the report issued today (09/04/19) on the children's hospital overrun...

    While listening to them giving their soundbites it occurred to me that I don't know anything about their backgrounds.

    Especially ministers - what qualifies them to be put in charge of whatever it is they are doing. take Simon Harris for example - what experience or expertise does he have to be minister for health? (please note im only using minister Harris as an example since he was just on the news; but I just have a general query about them all).


Comments

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 14,505 Mod ✭✭✭✭johnnyskeleton


    They need to get elected. Thats about it. The idea being that the senior civil servants are supposed to have the technical know how.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,356 ✭✭✭✭mickdw


    Nothing other than ability to get votes or constituency location. In most cases, it has nothing to do background / education although in the case of finance, the minister does tend to have a financial background which is useful in that they won't make complete fools of themselves when talking.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,931 ✭✭✭az2wp0sye65487


    Another one local to me is Noel Rock. He's on my radar as we're a similar age and from the same area. I know nothing about him..... but since he was elected last time round I've seen and heard him on the news, panel shows, on radio etc. numerous times over the past couple of years commenting on any number of issues...


  • Registered Users Posts: 24,506 ✭✭✭✭Cookie_Monster


    Nothing unfortunately. It'd be nice to think there could be even a simply short course required so at least it gets explained what local / national politician are supposed to do / represent..


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,882 ✭✭✭✭expectationlost


    Just watching the news there and listening to Simon Harris, Mary Lou McDonald and Mattie McGrath commenting on the report issued today (09/04/19) on the children's hospital overrun...

    While listening to them giving their soundbites it occurred to me that I don't know anything about their backgrounds.

    Especially ministers - what qualifies them to be put in charge of whatever it is they are doing. take Simon Harris for example - what experience or expertise does he have to be minister for health? (please note im only using minister Harris as an example since he was just on the news; but I just have a general query about them all).
    good judgement as evidenced by displaying good judgement


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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,242 ✭✭✭✭Fr Tod Umptious


    Firstly you needed to be ready to work hard.

    Getting elected is tough enough but once elected you can consider yourself oncall 24/7 365.

    The main requirement for a minister is really to be a good manager.

    You are given a portfolio and it's up to you to make sure you do a good job of that portfolio.
    That involves delegating work, negotiating on behalf of your portfolio, being pragmatic when required etc.

    It's no surprise that a lot of people from the legal profession go into politics, not just in here but world wide.
    They are used to debating, getting their point across, negotiating, compromising etc.

    That's what politics is all about.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,882 ✭✭✭✭expectationlost


    Firstly you needed to be ready to work hard.

    Getting elected is tough enough but once elected you can consider yourself oncall 24/7 365.

    The main requirement for a minister is really to be a good manager.

    That involves delegating work, negotiating on behalf of your portfolio, being pragmatic when required etc.
    is that not the secretary general's job


  • Registered Users Posts: 286 ✭✭abcabc123123


    They’re qualified because they’ve been chosen for the job, that’s it and that’s enough.

    I know some people love the idea of an executive democracy where cabinet ministers are appointed from fields they have expertise in (in theory) and have to be confirmed by parliament, but in that system their boss who ultimately tells them what to do is still an elected rep with little expertise. We’ve merely got an extra layer between the expertise (civil servants) and the elected representatives, and I haven’t seen any great arguments to persuade me that this system is weaker than the alternative.
    Another one local to me is Noel Rock. He's on my radar as we're a similar age and from the same area. I know nothing about him..... but since he was elected last time round I've seen and heard him on the news, panel shows, on radio etc. numerous times over the past couple of years commenting on any number of issues...
    He's on my radar a long time too as he used to post on boards: https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/member.php?u=4882

    His username was NoelRock originally. He seems like a normal enough chap, although a bit partisan for my tastes.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,242 ✭✭✭✭Fr Tod Umptious


    is that not the secretary general's job

    Secretary generals job is to keep the minister informed and yes the day to day running.

    But it's the minister who advocates for their department at cabinet level, and that's where they need to know how to negotiate, be pragmatic etc.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,381 ✭✭✭Yurt2


    For me a politician needs to display the following qualities:

    1. Vision: A credible vision and outcome to rally people around (nobody gets things done on their own, and a leader will need reliable and committed fellow travelers)
    2. Intellect: The intellect to know how to implement your vision and question your assumptions at all times.
    3. Will: The will to face down special interest groups who would wish to see your vision fail.
    4. Wisdom: The wisdom to know when you are going to far, undermining what you set out too achieve in the first instance.

    Politicians who had most or all of these qualities in spades:

    Franklin D Roosevelt
    Theodore Roosevelt
    Lee Kwan Yew
    Konrad Adenauer
    Deng Xiaoping


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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,381 ✭✭✭✭ednwireland


    as churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other ones. is a bit like I feel about how politicians get to the top.

    sometimes wonder whether a random lottery would be better.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,013 ✭✭✭✭James Brown


    There's also cases of a particular area being strong for a particular party. Any person need only get the nod from party H.Q. and need not necessarily even be from the area they are running in. This might lend itself to those who sign up at third level and make a career out of it.
    The other would be personalities known locally or nationally for community work who might get approached by a party.
    Essentially you need to be popular or put forward in an area by a party popular in that area.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,786 ✭✭✭✭L1011


    The Apres Match Election 82 skit show had a sequence in it where possession of a suit was the required qualification. This is no longer the case as some TDs have shown us!

    Some of the UK politicians least grounded in reality are the ones with PPE degrees - qualifications aren't necessarily a sensible thing for politics.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,498 ✭✭✭touts


    I wouldn't think qualifications are a high prerequisite. All most of them had to do is get elected for being the best pothole filler and coffin chaser in a strategic constituency. Worst still some of them weren't even the best pothole filler and Coffin chaser. They were the son, daughter or sister of the best pothole filler or coffin chaser who unexpectedly dropped dead giving them a uniquely Irish sympathy vote. Most of our cabinet have no qualification for the role they are in. In fact several of them haven't worked a day outside politics in the real world in their lives.


    For example:

    The Taoiseach was training to be a doctor before becoming a county councillor in his early 20s and then being elected as a TD. He fully qualified as a GP after becoming a TD and Minister. So at least one job wasn't being done properly.

    Minister for foreign affairs & Tánaiste ran a sailing charity (whatever the **** that is) for a year before inheriting his seat from his father.

    Minister for Finance worked in sales for a cosmetics company.

    Minister for Education was a research Economist for the tobacco industry.

    Minister for Justice studied to be a solicitor but instead became a County Councillor in his 20s before inheriting his seat from his Father.

    Minister for Business worked in a local credit union.

    Minister for Health was a parliamentary assistant for a senator.

    Minister for Agriculture worked as a County Councillor in his early 20s before inheriting his seat from his Father.

    Minister for Communications and the Environment dropped out of college after he inherited his seat from his father.

    Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport double jobbed for 30 years as Journalist and Senator.

    Minister for Housing was a Speechwriter for a UN agency.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,786 ✭✭✭✭L1011


    There's also cases of a particular area being strong for a particular party. Any person need only get the nod from party H.Q. and need not necessarily even be from the area they are running in. This might lend itself to those who sign up at third level and make a career out of it.
    The other would be personalities known locally or nationally for community work who might get approached by a party.
    Essentially you need to be popular or put forward in an area by a party popular in that area.

    This isn't massively common in Ireland thanks to STV and voting for candidate not parties - and you'd better move to the area to have a good chance.

    SF did it to little avail - their candidates in my constituency were from all over the place over the years - but now the party is larger it doesn't seem to do so anymore.


  • Registered Users Posts: 286 ✭✭abcabc123123


    "Minister for Finance worked in sales in a cosmetics company"

    Interesting way of putting it... alternatively: He was Director of Sales in Marketing in Proctor & Gamble while still in his 20s (and didn't have the leg up of a wealthy background; grew up in Phibsborough, got a scholarship in Trinity, graduated with a 1st, got chosen by P&G).

    Politics is a difficult job that provides a lot of very valuable experience, which is evidenced by how many people land themselves high ranking positions in the 'real world' after they leave politics (despite apparently having no qualifications to do so).


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,891 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    They need to get elected. Thats about it.


    Pretty much this.

    Look at the TDs that we have - the Healy-Raes, the Mick Wallaces, the backbench FF and FG TDs, most of them have little to offer other than they got elected.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Honestly? The ability to convince people that they actually care, coupled with the ability to tell enough of the people what they want to hear, and make them believe that's what they (politicians) intend to do, if elected.

    Cynical? Yes - but all too often, it's also realistic.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,904 ✭✭✭fly_agaric


    "Minister for Finance worked in sales in a cosmetics company"

    Interesting way of putting it... alternatively: He was Director of Sales in Marketing in Proctor & Gamble while still in his 20s (and didn't have the leg up of a wealthy background; grew up in Phibsborough, got a scholarship in Trinity, graduated with a 1st, got chosen by P&G).

    In a way that supports the poster's point (though not the way they intended) as he is (IMO) one of the more competent ones.
    Politics is a difficult job that provides a lot of very valuable experience, which is evidenced by how many people land themselves high ranking positions in the 'real world' after they leave politics (despite apparently having no qualifications to do so).

    Being a cynic, at least some of that may be the personal connections and knowledge of the "system" they have gained from a career at a high level in politics rather than ability for their post-politics job.


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