Un-masterful Inactivity

I did a blog on this issue some time ago but recent events have brought me back to the issue. The current system of government with individual ministers being partially accountable to the executive inevitably produces inaction. The DUP are quite correct in stating that ministers can no longer go on a solo run in producing new legislation: Ruane’s inability to introduce a new system or stop academic selection is good evidence of that. This is a significant advance over the even worse method of government by individual fiefdoms which the UUP negotiated previously.However, although a minister cannot bring forward a new proposal without the backing of his or her executive colleagues, he or she can stop or end something without any such support. Ruane’s ending of the 11 plus (continuing McGuinness’s policy) is an excellent example. Although she cannot introduce a new system, she was able to end the 11 plus and there is no way by which her executive colleagues can force her to create an organised alternative. McGimpsey was able to arbitrarily close the Tyrone County Hospital which although sadly probably necessary is going to be done at an idiotic time of year with his eye firmly on the European elections. Sammy Wilson is able to ban an advert on climate change again without any ability for anyone to stop him.

Government does indeed require people to stop some things and take negative decisions. It also (and indeed more importantly) requires the ability to create new things. However, such is the utterly dysfunctional nature of our system of government that agreement on anything other than the most bland and banal of subjects is almost impossible. The final irony of course is that there is no mechanism by which this can be changed within the current system unless everyone agrees with the change: something which is even less likely than agreement on controversial measures.

This author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.