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Show her the door and fast!

That would be the presenter of Honey We're Killing the Kids, then.
Obviously a very versatile woman.

Could be quite useful! All depends on how the answers are interpreted of course...

My first reaction was that if the Labour Party had this system in place would Gordon be Prime Minister?!

But the old saying is that wanting to be a politician (ministerial or otherwise) should be an absolute disbarment from becoming one!

When psycho testing was introduced into my organisation years ago for internal promotion assessments, senior staff nevertheless overrode the results where the outcome didn't equate to the person they wanted.

Another aspect is that such testing doesn't say 'fit' or 'unfit', in some absolute sense. Rather, it indicates whether a candidate matches the profile that has previously been established for the characteristics required in the particular position.

Who decides the profile? If it simply produces clones of the decision-maker, that is a bad thing. Firstly the decision-maker might be flawed, so the problem would be compounded. Secondly, any team requires a variety of characteristics to get a synergetic effect and a bit of creative friction doesn't go amiss.

I think this is a welcome development. Having worked in business for 8 years and politics for 4 years the gulf in professionalism between both sectors is usually massive.

The availability of more data on MPs'/Candidates' abilities or lack of them can only add value to the selection process at all levels.

Of course, the usual anonymous comment in the article fears an unspoken agenda. What do people have to fear? Why risk getting landed with a role you are temperamentally unsuited to and make a mess of it?

I welcome enthusiastically any measures taken to give us the best chance of having the best people in the right roles. If this initiative helps undermine patronage and friendship groups being the major arbiter in selecting who to place in roles all the better.

I read the other day there have been 16 pension ministers since 1997. How ludicrous - perhaps if we had had better data on MPs skills/abilities we would have enjoyed greater continuity and more consistent policy developing-in such a fundamental area of government.

Politics is not middle management - thank God - so 'off the shelf' psychometric testing will be of very limited value.

The party should be in the business of identifying the key skills that ministers and MPs require - presentation, advocacy, fundraising, campaigning, speed reading, to name a few - and providing opportunities for candidates to acquire them.

"But the old saying is that wanting to be a politician (ministerial or otherwise) should be an absolute disbarment from becoming one!"

I know what you're saying here, Ken and the saying I think would apply to anything where the incumbent "wanted" to be there because he or she felt that they would gain some personal advantage or preferment by being so!

But this is very different to wanting to become a politician or minister because one felt that one could achieve something for the good of others - in other words make a difference! Naive perhaps, but there are still some people who wish to go into public life for these very good reasons.

Its a swamp of fear and loathing

Lets all guess who won't make the cut.


Certainly there are many altruistic politicians. However, I don't see how psychometrics could help with, or be relevant to, personality/motive aspects (unless applied at time of original candidature as MP!). Someone could be a self-centred, ambitious @*#$£ yet still be a brilliant constituency MP or a minister, to the public good.

Maybe the only test of altruism is where it could be demonstrated that someone could have made an awful lot more money, had he or she not entered politics. Stereotypically, one could surmise that Tories would score proportionately better on that attribute!

On the particular question of skills, surely at this level these should be apparent from a prospective minister's background? e.g. demonstrated competence in relevant fields.

Roger Evans above lists several attributes to be tutored. I would say that if those aspects had not already been demonstrated, the individual perhaps could not have achieved the stage of being considered for a ministerial position.

I have gained the impression that favours owed, mutual backscratching, horsetrading, dissensions to be minimised, etc, etc, have as much to do with ministerial and other selections than objective assessments of relevant competences in a specialism. Otherwise some appointments, in any party, over the years have been rather hard to comprehend. That is not a cynical whinge, just calm acknowlegement of a fact of life by the nature of the game. However, it does obviate consideration of psychometric testing in this respect.

The mumbo-jumbo end of recruitment comes to the Conservative Party.

"The mumbo-jumbo end of recruitment comes to the Conservative Party."

Explain "mumbo-jumbo"?

" Someone could be a self-centred, ambitious @*#$£ yet still be a brilliant constituency MP or a minister, to the public good."

Point taken Ken! I suspect neither you nor I are an expert in psychometric testing - though I will be studying it as part of one of my University modules (Psychology in the Workplace) in the semester after Christmas! Should there be another thread on the subject after that then no doubt my posts on the subject will be far better informed!

You might find the following useful:

A good friend was the Personnel Director of a major management consultancy. Psychometric testing was abandoned as it did not test key skills, e.g. lateral thinking and the ability to take tough decisions.

The big question is who in CCHQ is leaking this stuff to the press. Such meetings should be private and confidential.

Would Winston Churchill ever have held ministerial office if psychometric testing had existed in his days?

Thank you Ken - I will take a look!

"The big question is who in CCHQ is leaking this stuff to the press. Such meetings should be private and confidential."

Don't faint again, Libertarian - but I'm going to agree with you on this one!

David Cooper

Depends what the specified profile would have been, against which the candidate was to be assessed.

So... probably not!

Additional point:
"..promised to use psychometric testing to help the Conservative Party pick its ministers, should it win the next general election.."
If it is believed that psychometrics have a role to play, surely this should be utilised in selection of shadow ministers, so as to get the 'right' people in place to help win the next election in the first place!

As others have said, the key is the specified profile. All this will lead to is a political version of "corporate man/woman", which nearly did for IBM a year or two ago. Also, as these tests rely on self provided data they are wide open to manipulation - I know I've done it. Most of this stuff is peddled by charlatans anyway, and we have far too many non-productive parasites in the economy as it is.

Ken at 11.07 is spot on and his post deserves reading again. This sort of technique has been shown to be little better than random selection but its trendy and presumably the consultant will be well paid! No doubt Churchill would have been rejected by such hocus pocus masquerading as science.....I can see it now, "..yes we have been looking at the psychological charts of some fella called Churchill, thinks he wants to be leader (barely concealed laugh) seems to be very unbalanced and unsuitable...".
This sort of half baked drivel from lecturers with time on their hands should be consigned to the round file on the floor pronto!

What an awful idea. British politics should be about acting in the best interests of Britain, not management fads. Anybody who doesn't quite conform to DC's image and likeness won't become a Minister.

David Cooper is quite right - Winston Churchill and many others would never even have become MPs if psychometric testing had been around then.

As a candidate I firmly believe this is a positive step.

Psycometric testing should not be used in isolation but as a good complementary assessment of an individual. There are hundreds of different tests avaialable and I would be surprised if most of the commonly used business tests were appropriate for politicians.

When I did the selection board we had to do tests as part of a wider assessment. A great example of the sort of test that is relevant to political life is Watson glaser - see here

I have no doubt that it would be beneficial for many MPs and Candidates to see the results of a properly researched test. the problems come if it is the wrong test and/or the wrong criteria

This should be welcomed as a way of bringing some objective assessment of ability in a world were it can be hard to assess ability against personality.

Beyond belief! The Conservative party is a broad church which has always had it's share of characters...We are in desperate need of some now!. a Heseltine, Thatcher, Tebbitt or a Clarke......Conviction politicians...Not more PR clones - lets get some Northern talent in the shadow cabinet...

Is this a move against Boris!

Given that a lot of Conservatives high up in the party speak complete tosh, clearly there might be something going for psychological tests...

Seriously though, the Party needs to concentrate on bigger things than the state of mind of the potential ministers and spend more time working out what its going to do if it does become the Government.

This does sound like the management bringing in the consultant so there is someone to blame.

on the face of it, it sounds like an ok idea, but as others have said it could be dangerous if the basis of 'normal' isn't right, or that people that aren't 'normal' are rejected.
Being high up on some disorder scales would be an advantage to the party... so maybe it could be used to find these and reject the 'normal' people.

Great if you want a load of clones but surely one of the key things that we look for in our leaders is judgement?

The only organisation I've worked in where psych testing was a positive was one where the results of the tests were only made known to the recruiting managers after they had made a decision to recruit. The tests were then used as a tool for enabling them to understand the motivations and approaches of their new recruits. The senior management team also did the tests and used them to focus on areas for development and as a diagnostic (eg our MD and FD had a rather frosty relationship but the tests suggested why this might be, both worked on the aspects of their personalities which clashed and it transformed things). However, in the more hierarchical world of government do we really want this to be the approach? The party and the country will have chosen Cameron to be PM - will it really want him then to modify his behaviours in order to fit with certain ministers or to choose ministers who can follow his lead (or even to be comfortable enough to allow a range of opinions)?

Should we try psychometric testing on Dave then? I mean anyone who advocates nationalising major banks is surely insane and therefore unfit for high office!

Without the benefit of testing I think the majority of us reached an opinion on Maude quite some time ago.

Unfit for purpose...any purpose.

Let#s not forget in order for the Conservatives to win the next election they need to have around 350 MPs. They currently have around 195. Throw in several members retiring and nearly half the governing party could be brand new MPs. They won't know what they're doing, and more importantly the leadership won't know too much about them and how they might be expected to perform. Some kind of assessment exercise therefore looks like it might not be a bad idea.

Secondly, we seem to have forgotten it wasn't that long ago we were reveling in the revelations of Gordon Brown being derided as psycologically flawed - do we really want our own bunch of Browns?

Thirdly, with his reluctance to reshuffle the Shadow Cabinet Cameron has shown he isn't the typical political leader, and he doesn't see the Shadow Cabinet as a collection of big beasts who are all essentially interchangeable in their jobs. Rather he sees it as important that people are in post for a long time and able to master their brief. In government we may well expect Cameron to view his Ministers as managers of their Departments who ought to know them well, and be well suited to the particular demands of particular demands and policy areas. Being Health Secretary is not 'a bit like' being Transport Secretary, and I'm encouraged if Cameron is thinking in this way. Of course the flip side to assessing the skills, abilities and characteristics of potential Ministers is to assess the skills, abilities and characteristics that a certain post demands. For example, I'd suggest that whilst a Foreign Secretary ought to be charming and empathetic, they ought not to be conciliatory - rather, they ought to enjoy saying 'No' (that is the secret to effective negotiation).

I presume the same policy will be adopted to test whether PPCs are sane and stable?

That assumes that there is a right and wrong answer in psychometric testing - i.e. give the correct answers and you're deemed balanced and good, give the wrong answers and you're deemed a loon. There aren't right and wrong answers - there are simply answers that show you have certain character traits that may be useful in certain situations/positions - empathetic or analytical, sensory or intuitive etc..

It says nothing about sanity or stability.

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