by Mark Chillingworth

Let’s have some CIOs in politics

Apr 14, 20093 mins
IT Strategy

Trevor Philipshead of the Equality and Human Rights Commission told a conference recently that he wants MPs to be restricted to just four terms in the House of Commons. As the head of a group that seeks to promote the roles women and ethnic minorities have in our society he was of course looking to promote his flock. But as keen, although increasingly woeful political watcher, I can’t help feeling there is another ethnic group our political system could do with an injection of – business people.

I don’t wish to down play Philips’ call for more women and members of ethnic groups, he is entirely right that the all too white, middle aged male view of the green benches of the “mother of all parliaments” needs to represent the diverse make up of our nation and the still under-valued role women play. But although business people, especially bankers, are not the flavour of the month at the moment, my experience as a business journalist whose primary job is to interview the leaders of IT thinking, is that this is a valuable group of people who have the intelligence, experience and passion to make a real difference to our country and society.

Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commissionfound that four fifths of MPs stand for re-election. When a contest offers such a slim opportunity of success all walks of society are less than enticed to take part. Therefore we have a Commons that does not attract women, blacks, Muslims or business people. If the contest were thrown open, more CIOs, business leaders, mums and Sikhs may consider a stint in politics a useful addition to their CV and life’s journey.

The situation as it stands today means that all that experience of real life and real business never sees the light of the political day in Parliament.

Study the careers of politicians carefully and you will see that the vast majority either comes from the cloistered world of law, or are career politicos, working as researchers, campaigners and lobbyists and existing all their lives within the institution of their chosen party.

It is no wonder some of the mistakes that have been made recently have occurred, I don’t know of a single CIO that would scribe ill-thought-out emails on smear campaigns, business leaders are well versed and claiming expenses and know what they can and can’t claim for and wide experience means they can draw on a lot of personal experience, contacts and experts to formulate policy and debate and not become over reliant lobbying groups and PR companies.

Looking at the leadership qualities and careers of Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron makes me wonder why I take an interest in politics at all. Never has British politics presented such an uninspiring group of stuffed animals to the public. Lets adopt the Trevor Philips policy and radically improve the quality of people available to parliament and perhaps Britain’s voters and businesses can look forward to dealing with an Obama moment rather than a “lightweight” Cameron.