By Guy Dorrell @GuyDorrellEsq
The Cabinet reshuffle instigated by David Cameron on 15 July has generated more media coverage than almost any other. As with any reshuffle, comparatively little of this coverage is positive – the exception to this being the deafening chorus of approval of Michael Gove’s removal from Education, applauded by teachers and parents alike.
The excess of coverage can, in part, be ascribed to how we now consume our media; social media counts for a huge portion of total coverage. Other reasons come from the nature of the reshuffle.
Coming just 10 months before a General Election, even the most blinkered observer will have noted that the reshuffle was a pretty obvious piece of electioneering, instigated no doubt by Lynton Crosby. Its plays on how many women were being promoted to Cabinet; though six out of 23 posts seems to make the claim quite shameless. Bear in mind too, that gaining all the headlines is a Conservative reshuffle, not a reshuffle of the whole Cabinet.
Representing, not representative
The claim from David Cameron was that, “this is a team that represent Britain” – despite the new Cabinet being 96% white, 74% male and 75% privately educated – with no ministers in Education having received state secondary education.
Unlikely things have happened on the way to the Cabinet table. Nicky Morgan, the new Education Secretary – independent school, followed by Oxford University and City Law firm – was also given the Equalities brief despite her having voted against equal marriage. To see off this little embarrassment, Minister of State for Business and Education Nick Boles has been given the job of dealing with same-sex marriage.
Photogenic, but gaffe-prone Matt Hancock, of pose in front of graffiti saying “sack Cameron” fame, has been made the new Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy. By pure chance, Hancock is a faithful ally of nowhere-to-be-seen strategist and kingmaker, George Osborne.
Go home, come back
Mark Harper, former Minister for Immigration who, having instigated the woeful “Go home” van campaign and resigned in January, when it came to light that he had employed a cleaner who was in the country illegally, has returned to a prevent his seat further cooling, as a Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Treasury has had death-penalty advocating right-winger Priti Patel added to its number, presumably on the reasoning that duty on cigarettes brings in significant revenue and Patel was a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.
Happy news, tinged with sadness, comes from Stephen Crabb who has been promoted to Wales Secretary. Happy for him that he has been promoted, but unfortunate since he described the post as “emptied and somewhat meaningless” back in 2007.
Of course the big story of the day was the movement of Gove to Chief Whip from one of his twin passions, education. The other passion being, of course, re-creation of the 1950s. In what he presumably keeps chanting while alone, this is not a demotion for someone not wholly telegenic, rather a move to a backroom, administrative post where being loathed is no impediment at all.
Gordon Brown’s administration started the acronym GOATs – the government of all the talents, and it seems that Cameron’s team have enthusiastically re-engineered this for the modern-day Britain; the Government Of All the Tokens.
Ten months is therefore the government’s current estimate of the half-life of the cynicism and incredulity of a British adult. In May 2015, we shall find out if Lynton Crosby correctly assessed our gullibility.
At the time of writing, there remains no Prisons Minister.