Wednesday, September 05, 2012


A Reshuffle Lurch to the Right

. Did the reshuffle do anything dramatic? As per usual, after all the excitement things are not that much different. If I try hard to pick the bones out of it, I'd make the following points:

1. Cameron has tried to solve specific problems with his appointments: a) the odious Grant4 Schapps (or alternatively 'Michael Green') is highly plausible and a typical Cameron decision was to use him to replace the politically naive and ineffective Warsi as party chair; b) Justine Greening has been moved presumably to facilitate a third runway at Heathrow, something right-wingers claim will assists growth; c)Ken Clarke has been moved to assuage those on the right who have wholly disagreed with his sensible penal policy reforms.

2. Jeremy Hunt has astonishingly been saved. Great to see the back of the egregious Lansley though Hunt, as my picture suggests, was as gobsmacked as the rest of us who felt his shameless arse-licking of Murdoch should have earned him only the order of the boot. Now this politician, apparently devoid of any sense of honour, and someone who opposed any celebration of the NHS in the Olympics' opening ceremony, has been put in charge of our most treasured national institution. Shame on you Dave.

3. Most of the big beasts remain in post: Hague, May and of course Osborne. As Ozzy was advising Dave it's natural his job should have been left untouched- despite being the one person voters would have liked to have seen shifted and the recipient of public boos at the Paralympic Games. Still, his pathetic strategy will no doubt continue to run into the sand as the economy stumbles from double dip to an even more debt ridden condition. No doubt he will not welcome the advice of wise old Ken in his new economic advisory Cabinet role.

4. IDS (bravely) refused to shift from his WPP post, determined to continue his quest for a more rational benefits structure and to resis the mooted further £10bn cut in welfare payments.

5. The 'new talent' which allegedly crowded onto the Tory benches in 2010 is rewarded as expected e.g. Liz Truss, Daniel Poulter and Anna Soubry.

6. The Lib Dems seem to have got very little out of the reshuffle. Admittedly, their Cabinet posts have been left untouched, they have seen the able Norman Lamb moved to health and the even more able David Laws is back in government at education (though not in Cabinet); (how will he get on with Michael Gove?). But with the right-wing Owen Paterson and Chris Grayling now sitting around the Cabinet table Lib Dems will find their liberal values marginalised. Maybe Clegg failed to fight sufficiently hard for his corner or maybe Dave just didn't bother to listen to his advice?

These changes are not totally insignificant but they are unlikely to transform or initiate real change. Cameron had to replace certain colleagues and his party is now so right-wing it was inevitable that any 'shake-up' would pull in more right-wing Tories. Cracks will continue to be papered over and the coalition will continue to limp along, resolving nothing and involving two parties, hovering like sprint cyclists, both waiting for the moment when they can cast the other adrift and strike out for a position which will maximise electoral support.

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