The dark triad and selection of MPs

Dr Volker Patent looks at what we can learn from Brexit and how this reflects on those who represent us in Parliament and the processes by which they get there.

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Image by the Digital Artist on under Creative Commons licence.

The basis for competence-based trust

Brexit and its painful unfolding over the last two years have many examples of politicians’ displays of an astounding lack of competence amongst top politicians. Since Tory party politicians lead the Brexit negotiations, the examples here sway towards conservative politicians: From David Davis not turning up much at negotiations and being perceived as a weak negotiator by his counterparts in Brussel’s to Dominic Raab admitting ignorance on aspects of Britain’s trade relationship with Europe . Failure to implement civil service adaptions in a timely fashion also suggest managerial failure at the highest levels of government .

The basis for goodwill trust

The recent political climate in the UK highlights a trend of ever-increasing and shameless lack of integrity and benevolence. The ‘callous’ implementation of austerity which was slammed by the UN inquiry into the effects of Austerity and ministers’ dishonesty regarding the impacts of austerity clearly illustrates a breach in goodwill trust that raises questions about the morality of government politicians in general.

The crop of Brexiteer politicians currently dominating British politics as well as seeming surprisingly incompetent also appear to be low in integrity.

There are many examples of a lack of integrity throughout the journey into Brexit: Boris Johnson’s deliberate misuse of statistics swinging the vote towards leave and the undermining of his prime minister on Brexit when he was the foreign secretary is the most well-publicised example. Having almost led the UK out of the EU, Brexiteers demonstrate little sympathy for the public regarding the impacts on the public. Politicians such as arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg seem likely to benefit financially from Brexit , while the rest of the population becomes poorer.

Selection of politicians and the ‘Dark Triad’ in politics

Part of the problem is that the assessment processes for ensuring that MPs are fit to practice as trustworthy representatives of the British public are failing to select individuals with greater competence and integrity. Good practice in recruitment is to identify the critical skills needed to perform the job. Assessment processes within political parties are arduous but based on the displays of shamelessness and incompetence may have been recruiting untrustworthy people who lack, competence, integrity or both. The primary concerns of assessment seem to be whether the candidate upholds the value of their party, with the final decision for parliamentary candidates left to a vote by the party membership.

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Image by the Digital Artist on under Creative Commons licence.
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Image by Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 on Flickr under Creative Commons BY-ND 2.0 licence.

Little optimism for change

The above does of course not just apply to Brexit and Conservative party politicians but across all parties, and does by no means suggest that all politicians have high levels of Machiavellianism, narcissism or psychopathy or that they are unintelligent.

Brexiteer politicians will not display sudden hubris and humility to acknowledge that their position was untenable form the start.

The reason for this is largely political because politicians and their parties are ultimately in control of the processes and the way standards operating in the parliamentary system are implemented. Individuals who are acting with subterfuge and pursuing policies that unfairly and recklessly favour their own and peer groups’ interests are unlikely to want to change the conditions that allow them to thrive. Removing an MP from office could trigger by-elections and with a weak government like the current one could result in losing its majority.

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