Read my blog at Huffington Post

I also blog at Huffington Post's new UK site; please click here to read my posts there.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

What are Treasury ministers for?

As the BBC tells me that Tony Blair wants to come back (did he ever really leave? Actually, it's been blindingly obvious for ages that he'd like to come back, and if I was the Labour Party...), a video of Tory Treasury minister Chloe Smith is floating around the Internet.

On Newsnight, Ms Smith says repeatedly that decisions about tax are made by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor (and, I seriously imagine, by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and sometimes also the Deputy Prime Minister). If the PM, Chancellor, Chief Secretary, etc, are making the decisions, and the civil servants are doing all the admin, then what do junior Treasury ministers like Ms Smith actually do? Given that they are, I believe, paid a ministerial salary on top of the salary that they get for being an MP, what are these ministers for? is Ms Smith on Newsnight, if you go in by around six minutes. And before anyone objects to Jeremy Paxman grilling a minister like this, come on - this is the government of the country that we're talking about here, so it is reasonable to have some tough, forensic questions about what is going on.

It's only television, and the minister is a volunteer, not a conscript - much harder things than this Newsnight interview happen in many ordinary people's lives every day. Incidentally, if you think the way Mr Paxman questions Ms Smith is very tough, then you've clearly never delivered an essay, and been questioned on it afterwards, at a one-on-one tutorial at university.


  1. Quite right Matthew - I wish people would stop saying 'poor Chloe Smith', she's a Minister of State!

  2. What are Treasury ministers for? To protect the Chancellor from going on Newsnight, mostly.

    I've no problem with interviewers being tough, so long as they're trying to illuminate rather than to generate spectacle.