Ministerial duties – and conflicts.


I got a  tweet from the Pensions Minister thanking him for yesterday’s blog. “Agreed” it said – referring to his intention to serve the queen before the prime minister.


As an MP he has the interests of his constituents to the fore. My father stood for parliament on three occasions , he would have been a good constituency MP, but he was a Liberal in a seat that Tories would only have lost in the kind of bye-election we get when Tory Government’s are unpopular.

The Minister’s second interest in his party, though just what the Conservative party stands for at the moment has yet to be decided. I hope it did not stand for the kind of realpolitik practiced over the past year or two. We have a three months window where we will see how first the parliamentary conservative party and then the wider membership sees the direction it wishes to take. The general public will judge in 2024 (not long past the new leader’s honeymoon period is over).

The third allegiance is to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, but oddly – this loyalty is going to be diluted over the next few months as “care taking” rather than “leadership” is the watchword.

Finally there is the higher allegiance, that might be to the Queen, to God or to one’s own integrity and it’s this allegiance that Opperman is stressing in accepting his new role as a junior minister in the DWP.

Finally, there are the commercial responsibilities of a Minister, to ensure that whatever vested interests are in play, are managed fairly – to the public good but also to reward endeavor and entrepreneurial activity.

He is accountable to Select Committees, to commentators and journalists and to the paraphernalia of the various trade bodies.

One of the last statements made by the DWP prior to Opperman’s resignation was to reinforce the intent of the legislation designed to combine pots without people getting  scammed. As with so much legislation, the unintended consequences have been given greater prominence than the policy intent. We hope that following protests from Pension Bee and subsequent statements from the providers cited, a quick resolution to the impasse will be found.

It’s easy enough to poke fun at Ministers , struggling to meet all their differing obligations , to stay in post and to get re-elected. There isn’t much of a parachute if you lose your post or your seat, there are many former MPs who have only memories and a few years of pension accrual to remind themselves of what it was like to be in the Westminster village.

But nonetheless, MPs choose to stand for office and pursue promotion in the full knowledge of the risks of failure. My father found losing at the hustings tough, he kept it to himself but my mother had to live his disappointment and carry him on.  Politicians need support and its families who play that part.

when we were young

When he was starting out in 2017, I met him in parliament at an event organised by TPAS, he spoke about wanting to be Pension Minister because of his interest in pensions. Frankly I didn’t believe him. But I do now.

Next week, Opperman will be back at work, trying to get as much done before the summer recess as can be done. We will get much more done as a result of him being there, and he can do with our co-operation till a new prime minister and team decide whether he serves through to the next general election (and maybe beyond).

You can hear Guy Opperman’s explanation of his resignation and reappointment by the chief whip here.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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