Friday, 1 February 2013

No, Minister

The Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy (University of Cambridge) has launched its 2013 ‘No, Minister’ poll. The aim of the exercise is to challenge the misconception that all politicians in government are the same, by raising awareness of the esteem or reprobation members of the public attach to different Ministers.

Democracy can be damaged not only by crude cynicism – dismissing every political agent as equally bad; but also by naïve neutrality – giving everyone the continuous benefit of the doubt. By pooling citizens’ views of what different Government Ministers have done, we can more effectively promote informed participation in politics.

The ‘No, Minister’ poll is conceived as an antidote to the outmoded ‘Yes, Minister’ caricature of British politics, which presents Government Ministers as innocents abroad at the mercy of their manipulative civil servants. The reality is quite different. In recent decades Ministers have invariably set out their preferred policies, and civil servants have increasingly striven to deliver them even if, in certain cases, speed can only be achieved at the expense of more extensive scrutiny.

So how does the ‘No, Minister’ poll work?
1. You can put forward up to three Secretaries of State you would like to see ejected from their posts: just send their names along with your reason (tweet to @HenryBTam or email to
2. You can do the same for up to three Secretaries of State you would like to see retained in their posts.
3. The results will provide a basis for reviewing how the public think about the people who hold the highest political offices in the country.
4. Poll closes 15 March 2013 (names of participants in the poll will not be published)

Our objective is not to conduct a scientific poll, but to prompt reflections on the impact Ministers have on society. The votes and reasons will be collated, with the results published in April on the website of the Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy.

[For the ‘No, Minister’ poll, votes are only to be cast for full Cabinet members, not those who may attend Cabinet meetings. For a current list, see:]