A September reshuffle?


           I read speculation in the press about a Ministerial reshuffle. I think Mr Cameron has been wise  not to hold an early one, or to make them annual events. Ministers need to time to master their brief and to learn to work well with their departments.  For everyone a Prime Minister makes happy by promoting, he makes another miserable by sacking them.

         Clearly Mr Cameron is aware of the difficulties of managing the party and the expectations of many MPs when he does not have a majority and when Lib Dems take a larger share of the Ministerial posts than their Parliamentary strength would justify on its own, to ensure they have representation in every department. 

          Some people have been briefing the press that there will be a September reshuffle, but only Conservative MPs who have always voted with the government will be considered for promotion. Some have also suggested that there could be a further reshuffle before the 2015 scheduled General Election.

           In the past Prime Ministers have appointed a mixture of loyalists and more independently minded people to government. The old idea was that a government needed to reflect the broad forces of opinion within the governing party and in turn in the wider country. Margaret Thatcher appointed “wets” to her Cabinet though she disagreed with them. They did vote against her when not on the payroll. Tony Blair invited Gordon Brown to be Chancellor, only to see him running a domestic government within the wider government, and building a Brown faction within the Labour party.  Both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair appointed some rebels to the government. John Major appointed Michael Heseltine to prominent roles, knowing he wanted to be Leader.  They took the view that they needed to listen and argue with some they disagreed with, around the Ministerial table.It also meant those particular rebels had to vote for the agreed government line once it was settled.  What is the point of a Cabinet if all agree on the main issues of the day?

            Mr Cameron has a particular problem in managing the votes and ambitions of the 2010 intake. As this accounts for half the Conservative Parliamentary party, it is a very large voting group. The government has expected loyalty from them, because they are new and because many of them have legitimate ambitions for office in due course. It has not worked out quite like this, with many of the best of the new intake of Conservative MPs showing early independence of mind and spirit, and voting against the government on important issues like the EU, a referendum,  and Lords reform.

            I think it is a strange idea that the possibility of office can buy the full support of most MPs. People come into politics with views and  campaigns in mind. They wish to represent their constituents, and to stay true to promises they made their electors. They are swayed by argument and by policy circumstance. The best way for the government to get its business through is not by offering possible jobs at some unspecified time in the future, but by adopting popular policies and persuading MPs to vote for them on their merits. The main reason this government is at odds with many Conservative backbenchers is its refusal to demand a new relationship with the EU. If they would change that they could make the Conservative party much happier with its leadership.

           There is another reason why the patronage approach to party management is difficult to make work in this Parliament. The reduced number of Ministerial posts available to Conservative MPs is compounded by the government’s stated policy of a substantial increase in the number of women Ministers. Bright men MPs can do the sums, and see they have little chance of preferment. If preferment is a constraint on free thinking and independent voting for some, the poor arithmetic of gaining it offsets this feeling. 

           I would be interested in your thoughts on a reshuffle and the composition of the government, but please do not write in about me as I have no wish for this to be about me.



  1. Adam5x5
    August 5, 2012

    The best way for the government to get its business through is not by offering possible jobs at some unspecified time in the future, but by adopting popular policies and persuading MPs to vote for them on their merits.

    Pull the other one. This government, and previous ones, have been taking a “I know what’s best for you all, so do as I say because you’re all silly” approach to government.
    The EU, “green” issues, Iraq, public finances, transport policy, tax rises – the list goes on and on.

    The reduced number of Ministerial posts available to Conservative MPs is compounded by the government’s stated policy of a substantial increase in the number of women Ministers
    This is a problem in wider society in general, not just politics. Women (and minorities) stand a better chance of getting a job (especially in a male dominated industry) than an equally qualified male/non-minority candidate simply for the fact that they are female/minority.
    This is not right – the best candidate should be chosen for a job, not the nearly-as-good-but-the-lost-productivity-is-cheaper-than-getting-sued-for-discrimination candidate.
    Which kind of defeats the whole women should make up a quota on the boards of large companies idea. The best candidates tend to be men as they do not take several years out of their careers to raise sprogs. Of course, arguing that women are equally as good at the top level eventually means arguing that large companies aren’t “greedy”, profit maximising corporations – if they were, they would have more women, because women are just as good, if not better right?

    1. lifelogic
      August 5, 2012

      Indeed the best candidate should be chosen for a job, regardless of sex, religion or origins. We do not choose white 100 metre (nor indeed 10,000M) runners just because their colour is hugely under represented – would Cameron change that?

      JR says “the government’s stated policy of a substantial increase in the number of women Ministers”. Why on earth is this Cameron’s policy it is absurd and discriminatory?

      Well unfortunately with the current intake of largely, very few and rather second rate woman, this will mean greatly inferior ministers and huge discrimination against white men. We have seen what happens, when people are appointed for purely reasons, regardless of ability, with Baroness Warsi as chairman. She seems a pleasant enough as a person, but is totally out of her depth on almost every issue she addresses. It does not help the party image very much to have a chairman who flounders so at every step on the media.

      Mind you it does not help it to have a EU loving, socialist, tax borrow and waste, leader either. One with a clear states policy of deliberate discrimination against talented, white males.

      1. lifelogic
        August 5, 2012

        Clearly reshuffles in a coalition with the mad green religion/pro EU/anti democratic party are going to be rather more tricky. But that is entirely Cameron’s fault for putting his silly soft socialist/pro EU agenda to the country, giving Clegg equal billing and not doing some deal with UKIP.

        This in an election against the hugely unpopular sitting duck “some bigoted woman” Brown. What chance will he have at the next? Surely none, trust in him has gone and cannot return.

        Politicians like nappies should be changed regularly and for rather similar reasons – certainly in this case.

      2. Bernard Juby
        August 5, 2012

        Couldn’t agree more. Add Theresa May as a no-hoper and lose the Europhile dinosaurs – no names, no pack-drill but you all know who I mean and we MAY begin to get somewhere where the Government actually reflects the hopes and aspirations of the British public.
        Stop kow-towing to the Lib-Dems. Call their bluff if need be over Europe and other issues. They have more to lose if the Coaiotion collapses after all.
        Plus SOME women may be better than a man at certain jobs but let’s have a meritocracy and stop this male/female equality nonsense – our brains are pre-wired hormonally in the womb. We are programmed for different tasks so let that be reflected in any positions.

    2. Timaction
      August 5, 2012

      Mr Redwood, do not hold your breath. Mr Cameron’s decision making (u-turns weekly) in general and strategy are appalling. He stumbles from one policy crisis to another. He has no convictions or principles but a wish and desire to hold onto office (not power) at any price.
      Who would want to be part of his Cabinet? Energy Policy? Lets get more windmills/solar power to bankrupt our pensioners/poor and rid ourselves of manufacturing industry to support unproven science and EU directives! Helps family and political friends though.
      More EU (£11 billion net and rising) so we can support……………French and Eastern Europeans farmers and infrastructure whilst our own is crumbling!
      With a £50 billion EU trade deficit annually he tells people that 3 million jobs are at risk if we left…………absolute nonsense! Other nations trade without the rest of the EU superstate meddling/interference. It only costs us £9 billion to implement EU policy annually.
      Lets borrow and give away £8 billion to foreign Governments and increase this to ensure we can give £650 million to Pakistan for their schools over 3 years whilst we can’t afford the PFI bills on our own! Lets give another £300 million to India, who don’t want it, but we can’t afford aircraft for our own aircraft carriers! It makes him feel good though and detoxifies the brand!
      Human Rights reform here and in Europe………..never. Deport foreign criminals……too difficult! You’ve only been in office 2 and 1/4 years.
      Lets have more mass migration to loose those English people so we can become the UNunited Peoples Republic of Europe.
      My only surprise on the diversity front is why he doesn’t have ethnic minority/sexuality/religious targets? Lets put away old fashioned meritocracy and bring on more diversity! Promotion without merit as in all public services, legislated by good old Harriett.

      1. lifelogic
        August 5, 2012


      2. stred
        August 5, 2012

        I voted for this charlatan. Silly me.

      3. Henry
        August 6, 2012

        Someone once said,”you don’t like my principles? I have others you might like!”

      4. Disaffected
        August 6, 2012

        I like the Equality minister Featherstone , she makes laugh each time she speaks- gay marriage is very important. There is the female child in the Treasury that Osborne sent out to do his dirty work- at least she had more courage than him. Justine Greening wants to spend £32 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money, our money, on a single railway line that will cut 30 minutes off one journey! It is not as if there were more important things she could do with the money to help the economy. Teresa May wants to blame everyone for mass immigration that she is allowing to soar, presumably she could ask Damian Green to stop all immigration or even reverse it if she wished. How about recalling Baroness Ashton from the EU, she had made a huge contribution to our lives- made us all poorer by the refurbishment of her office etc. How could we live without her? I look forward to Merkel taking over at least she has a vision and determination unlike our current incumbents.

        Reports today that Cameron has sent out Hague to quell Boris Johnson’s popularity-ooh scary. Perhaps he could respond by talking about the special adviser sharing a room with him.

        Overall we have witnessed Cameron’s poor judgement on appointments and associates ie Coulson, Brooks, Murdoch and Europhile advisers etc. The best thing could happen in the autumn is a vote of no confidence and start again. I think a few ministers ought to consider their family life and resign rather than be tarnished by association.

  2. Mike Stallard
    August 5, 2012

    To be honest, I do not think that reshuffling parliament is the problem.

    From here, I have watched as Steve Hilton has disappeared. David Davis went very early. Michael Gove and IDS’s reforms seem to have sort of run into the sand somehow. (I do know about Michael Gove because I wanted to start a free school). Wasn’t there someone who promised to reform the NHS? Andrew Lansley? Weren’t there a couple of LibDems who got caught doing something dishonorable?

    OK there have been three parliamentary revolts. That has been very encouraging.

    The Quad, out of touch, far too homogenous, sitting away from parliament in No 10, travelling the world and Europe, seems to be running the country without using or caring much about the real talents of the State School cads.

    The Cabinet and Parliament are, anyway, now little more than the local government for Berlaymont. (Ref: p.356-360, especially p358: The EU in a nutshell by Lee Rotherham.)

  3. Alan
    August 5, 2012

    For me what is important is that a wide range of viewpoints are put forward in any debate in the House of Commons, so that everyone can feel that their view is being publicly expressed and is being taken into account.

    I don’t care who holds the junior minister posts, and would prefer these people to have more freedom to speak their minds on all issues. All that I want of them is some managerial ability, to run their departments competently and ensure that the civil servants are executing government policy, not their own.

    I like the senior posts to be held by people with established reputations who have expressed their own views in the past and can reasonably be expected to continue to be expressing those views in private. I’m not happy with Secretaries of State who have always followed the party line, never said anything original, show no evidence of original thought, and continue to talk as though their main concern is finding out what the Prime Minister and the Chancellor think and echoing that. I think there are some in that category who could well be replaced, although I suspect Mr Cameron values them for their loyalty.

  4. Leslie Singleton
    August 5, 2012

    What is needed is for Cameron to be kicked out before he destroys the Tory Party. Second best would be to scrap three or four of the more useless Ministries and instead appoint a Minister with the express brief of taking back powers from Europe, unilaterally if necessary. That said, I think it needs to be stated that the In/Out question is something of a red herring meaning I for one would be happy to stay In provided whole swathes of the inappropriate and unwanted powers at present with the EU are retracted. Perhaps this is what Cameron means though I doubt it because he has now a record of talking drivel on every issue. We should, and with a squeaky-clean conscience be ruthless in taking back powers for the undoubted good of Europe as a whole. Sack half of Brussels for a start.

    1. Duyfken
      August 5, 2012

      “… I for one would be happy to stay In provided whole swathes of the inappropriate and unwanted powers at present with the EU are retracted.”

      And “Sack half of Brussels for a start.”

      Realistically, Leslie, these things are not going to happen, so the only tenable solution must be for the UK to withdraw. To expect the EU to allow the UK to mess about with its powers, as both you and JR seem to dream of, is just that: a pipe-dream.

      1. Mike Stallard
        August 5, 2012

        I too would like to see us get out eftsoons or right speedily.

        But our host’s questions echoes in my head: how? There is no majority likely in parliament before the (rigged by postal voting and with unequal boundaries) election and parliament is the only body who can get us out. The electorate is not willing, he says, to elect a majority of people who want out anyway.

        I regret to say that he knows his business better than either of us do and that he is probably right.

        1. Duyfken
          August 7, 2012

          You regret saying JR knows his business, and then couple me with your assertion of our not knowing his business as much he does. In general terms, that’s a truism to be sure but even JR has no monopoly of knowledge on all matters.

          It may be that you imply JR’s approach is purely one of tactics in the face of the lack of parliamentary majority and that were it otherwise, he would indeed lobby for the UK’s removal from the EU. Is that really his thinking?

          Reply: I have repeatedly pointed out I voted No to the UK staying in the EU, and think the current deal and relationship is very bad news for the UK. I have never suggested benefits from membership or urged staying in.

    2. David Harcombe
      August 5, 2012

      The party began to self destruct when it brought down Thatcher. Cameron merely continues and accelerates the process.

      1. Patong Patrick
        August 5, 2012

        Which David Harcombe are you? That’s my name but I never sign it on blogs. So have you hacked me? If so, despite your comments about Mrs Thatcher which I agree with, you have been as dis-honourable as the Lib-Dem Cameron & his Lib-Dem Cabinet ministers!

      2. lifelogic
        August 5, 2012

        Indeed – and just for so very few votes – if only she had remained and lost the election then we would never have had the Major disaster and Labour would have had the blame for Majors predictable ERM disaster that buried the party for the Blair, Brown and now Cameron disasters.

        A tragedy thanks almost entirely to Lord Heseltine and the anti-democrat pro EU career politicians.

    3. Mimbly
      August 5, 2012

      Agree with exception of Sack half of Bruessels. Sack ALL of Brussels

      1. Disaffected
        August 6, 2012

        We do not need to be involved in sacking if we left the EU. Leave them to it.

  5. Alte Fritz
    August 5, 2012

    There was an interesting comment, at the time of the Lords reform issue, from an unnamed hired hand in Downing Street. It was to the effect that anyone choosing to revel on the proposal would find their career prospects in jeopardy. Whilst that sort of thing might be expected in private, it struck me as pretty breathtaking in a public pronouncement.

    Public dislike for politicians can only be fuelled by the clear expectation that one enters Parliament for preferment, and is spineless enough to buckle under.

    There is another reason, though, to get diverse people into government which is to make some people realsie that government is tough and does not permit the perpetual luxury of principled dissent.

    I would like to see a more flexible approach which introduces some of the awkward squad to the realities of government and makes a cabinet a place in which reasoned, and realistic debate takes place. Or perhaps it already does….

    1. Alte Fritz
      August 5, 2012

      “revel” should read “rebel”, but on second thoughts…

  6. MickC
    August 5, 2012

    The re-shuffle needed is that of Cameron-out.

    1. A different Simon
      August 5, 2012

      As Blair’s child he must have reached his boredom threshold with pesky domestic issues and be keen to make a name for himself on the World stage .

      We can be sure that this will be preceded with desperate measures to retain office and accompanied by a final act of treachery whilst P.M.

      Osborne , Gove , I.D.S. and even Cable have some redeeming factors but know they are wasting their time reporting to socialite duffers like Cameron and Clegg .

      1. lifelogic
        August 5, 2012

        The only redeeming feature that I can spot in Vince Cable, the anti business secretary, is that he is rather old and hopefully will thus not be around, as a minister, much longer.

  7. A.Sedgwick
    August 5, 2012

    Using a rule of thumb that the state employs two where business employs one, this surely applies to the number of ministers. Threatening MPs with no promotion is infantile and as you point out can be more devisive and counter productive. Some new MPs seem to be concerned with being MPs rather than PPSs, which is encouraging and this obviously requires constituency support. As an example if I lived in Wokingham I would vote for your goodself, regardless of my very negative views of Cameron and Osborne. As I don’t I have voted UKIP post 2005.

    The Ministerial payroll 0f 100+ is a long running Government device to control the foot soldiers and in a cost controlled environment the priority would be to halve the numbers. As to a reshuffle, definitely deckchairs, the ones that need to go are the organisers not the recipients.

    1. lifelogic
      August 5, 2012

      Indeed two for one is about right. Not only that however so much of what is done by the state is pointless or worse actually damaging. You could deliver just the useful things they do with about one quarter of the staff and costs.

      All the green tosh and employment/equality nonsense for a start.

  8. Jim
    August 5, 2012

    I feel we should change and not accept the current system. I am not experienced in the way government works, but my guess is there should be many more MP’s in each department with MP’s in cross departmental roles to co.ordinate issues that are cross depts. It seems to me ministers are weighed down with work which means civil service mandarins are really in charge. The government should be truly managing, but I’m sure in reality they are not.
    Oh and by the way, we need a coordinated strategy for growth not this piece meal, ad hoc approach, we need a dynamic approach which sadly I feel, will never come out of the present system.

  9. Martin Cole
    August 5, 2012

    Locked behind the paragraphs in this posting, lies an explanation for how the Conservative Party became what it is. Beyond that is the stark and horrendous fact that it is the party system which made it that way and that the other parties in Britain’s politics are constructed upon similar lines.

    We must find the means for a democratic system to supply governance by individuals of some ability beyond currying favour.

    I believe the internet must be adapted to serve in elections with a large element of direct democracy based on differential voting power determined by the voters knowledge of the particular issue then in question. An online test on multiple randomly selected multiple questions, potentially raising one’s voting power by as much as a factor of three could re-enliven the Wests’s sinking democracies.

    We could then get Ministers who know what they are about, what the informed public view is on any topic and sufficient resulting self-assurance to bring the odious civil service mandarins, now wrecking the nation, to heel!

    1. zorro
      August 5, 2012

      But this is replicated in other parts of government service/Civil Service departments when those most able are not always offered positions of responsibility. These tend to be allocated to those who will say ‘yes’ and offer the least challenge/constructive criticism.


  10. John Ward
    August 5, 2012

    Mr Redwood, I very much doubt any ordinary person in the electorate would view a reshuffle with more than vague, passing interest. The Westminster media bubble will, of course, analyse the snakes and ladders as all good Camerlotologists try to do. But the issue for most people, I suspect, is the PM himself.
    Mr Cameron has shown some lamentable judgement and very little principled leadership since May 2010. I suspect the single biggest reasons for the slowly widening lead for Labour in the opinion polls are (1) a non-partisan dislike of the shady types with which he seems to surround himself; and (2) the near-collapse of LibDem support in the country.
    If there is to be a reshuffle, then the second factor above will always get in the way: the Coalition is based on MPs in the House, not votes still to be cast outside in the real world. The PM could appoint someone from the Right as Chancellor (he won’t) but even then that person would come up against LibDems at business and the Treasury. If he fired Osborne (he won’t) and gave Vince Cable the Chancellorship, the 1922 would tear Cameron to pieces.
    Thus in reality, he has little room to make substantive changes. For me, the only win-win would be to drop Theresa May and replace her with David Davis. I think two bold steps would be to fire Jeremy Hunt (he brings only controversy and dislike to the table) and ask for Lord Green’s resignation. If nothing else, these acts might give Mr Cameron a chance to relaunch his ‘clean’ credentials.
    Finally, one flier – we really do need someone at Defence who can get the respect of the armed forces and act as a bulwark against pointless cuts that only show us to be weak internationally. Colonel Bob Stewart is an obvious choice. And being Exec Chairman of Premier Gold, one suspects he could offer some interesting insights around the Cabinet table during the coming trials.
    You asked us not to mention your good self, and so I respect this – even though it makes my analysis incomplete.

  11. Brian Taylor
    August 5, 2012

    See Janet Daley’s article in todays Sunday Telegraph!

  12. andrew meldrum
    August 5, 2012

    The answer should be simple. Demote those ministers who are seen to be at the limit of their ability, promote those from the 2010 intake who look to be the cabinet ministers, or shadow ministers of the future – Patel, Norman, Stewart, to name 3.
    There are two problems.
    Many of the underperformers at ministerial level are libdems. But Mr Clegg has no-one to promote. I also feel that we could shuffle the departments they hold,y but would Mr Clegg agree.
    And at cabinet level, there has to be some changes, if for no other reason that there are ministers due promotion, (Grayling, Shapps?) who, like the 2010 intake, will have ambitions too. Couple that with the fact that almost all the Cabinet members under pressure are ‘Cameroons’, and the PM has a problem.
    Finally, it says a lot for the loyalties of our media that the most inept and out of his depth Cabinet Secretary is reported only as being safe, or even as a chancellor! – Mr Cable

  13. alan jutson
    August 5, 2012

    What is the point of hiring a yes man/woman, with no ability or original thought ?

    Fill your cabinet with clones of yourself, or clones of your thoughts, and you close your mind to other views and other options.

    The Prime Minister certainly lives in a bubble (as do some Ministers), not just this one, but all of them have, and all future ones will as well, that is simply a fact of the position.
    That is why they need to have regular contact with people who do come into contact with those who know what is happening at the coal face, and the harsh realities of life and business, for accurate feedback.

    Cameron certainly needs to have a reshuffle, because we need competent people in charge of Ministries.
    The problem he has, is that he seems to have little control over a large number of influential Ministers (LibDems) within his government, who often seem to brief against prospective government polices.

    Yes you need collective responsibility, but not at the expense of ability.

    Cameron seems to have a very poor record of choosing the correct people for certain positions, thus sadly, I do not hold out much hope or prospect of things getting any better in the future.

    Perhaps he ignors very able people for a reason, but he does so at the risk of his Party failing at the next General Election.

    If I were him I would be making a point of getting down to the Commons tea rooms on a regular basis, and listen rather than talk to his back bench MP’s ,who seem rather more in touch with what is really going on, than his yes friends..

    1. zorro
      August 5, 2012

      Very able people may show him up to be less than competent, and he might (quite rightly) think that they may be a danger to him……


    2. Disaffected
      August 6, 2012

      He has focus groups you know. They tell him how ordinary folk behave.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    August 5, 2012

    In just over two years Cameron has managed to create such a woeful goevernment that I don’t care who is in his cabinet. When he said he wanted to be prime minister because he thought he would be good at it, that said it all – no vision, no principles, other than to hold the office, and blind self-delusion, as he is clearly not good at it.

    1. Christopher Ekstrom
      August 6, 2012


  15. oldtimer
    August 5, 2012

    The government is off course, economically. It needs a course correction achieved by policy changes on taxation in particular. The government has embraced some economically stupid policies, notably relating to the cost, and therefore the price, of energy – not to mention the future risks of energy blackouts. It needs a decisive break with these policies. The government continues to sink into the devouring maw that is the EU. It offers only ineffective words, not actions, to escape the unfolding disaster.

    If the point of a reshuffle is to do more of the same, but more effectively than before, why do it? If there are incompetent ministers in post I want them to stay there making a mess of implementing the policies which I believe to be profoundly wrong. On the other hand if the reshuffle is intended to give point and focus to decisive changes in policy which will improve the prospects of recovery, then it should be welcomed provided the new ministers actually believed in their new briefs.

    My expectation is more of the same because that is the default, and immovable position of the coalition. On the evidence before us, Cameron lacks the political belief or will to change the course he is on – or to abandon the coalition.

    1. Disaffected
      August 6, 2012

      Lord Tebbit summed it up for me. Cameron has no political agenda or vision.

  16. Rebecca Hanson
    August 5, 2012

    While experience in education is not essential for an SoS for education the kind of life experience which trains people in the evaluation and management of highly intelligent people is. As is the level of life experience where by you are not easily prone to the kind of paranoia which leads you to demonise people simply because they are able and experienced and you don’t feel able to control them. As is having sufficient experience to know that it’s not a good idea to turn every single idea you come up with straight into policy without taking advice from people who actually understand what you are talking about.

    One person who has been suggested as a replacement for Michael Gove is Liz Truss and I really can’t state strongly enough how inappropriate this appointment would be. Liz simply does not yet have the experience for this role and has not yet developed the attributes described above. To be honest I think it would be hard for her to have developed them under the influence of Michael Gove and she would really benefit from working for an SoS who has them. I think she’d be okay as a junior minister in this department as she has worked hard to learn the territory and has clearly worked hard to learn from some of the mistakes she has made.

    Please, please, please can we have someone who is capable of commanding the personal respect of intelligent and experienced people? If anyone reading this blog knows such a person please can they apply all pressure to that person to consider the job and pressure on the PM to consider them for it? If such a person can be persuaded to get in touch with me I am happy to put them on a crash course in the economics and political possibilities and realities and possibilities in education, by chatting through these with them and answering any questions they have, referring them to (or asking) others who can answer them better than I can or linking them to discussions and papers.

    I’m quite happy to support a Conservative MP in preparing to be ready to move on constructively from the devastation of education so many Conservatives seem to think is a wonderful thing in its own right. I think another poor appointment in education would put immense stress on the coalition – the roots Lib Dems hate what’s going on – while a strong and mature appointment along the lines described above would allow intelligent progress to be made in education during the second half of this government, which is what everyone wants.

    And where-ever Gove goes can I assume Cameron is not going to put him in the Foreign office? I only ask because he was mad enough to put him in education…..

    1. forthurst
      August 5, 2012

      “people who actually understand what you are talking about.”

      Absolutely. By the way, whose Liz Truss?

      1. Rebecca Hanson
        August 5, 2012

        Elizabeth Truss is the MP for South Norfolk. There’s been speculation in the press that she’s to be the next SoS for education. I’ve seen her in action many times and have chatted to her in person on by email.

        Reply: Liz Truss is a talented colleague, but it would be very unlikely that a recently elected MP would move straight into a Secretary of State job – it is usual to start as a Parliamentary Under secretary or whip. I do not believe the speculation.

        1. forthurst
          August 5, 2012

          I see she has concerns about the effect on straw prices for her pig farmers consequent on the subsidies available to burn it locally as biomass ‘fuel’. Drax also is wasting money in order for convert for biomass ‘fuel’. Impure cellulose is a far worse fuel than carbon and it requires further expenditure on nitrogen fixation to achieve it, never mind the effect on food supplies.

          When will this lunacy end?

          1. forthurst
            August 5, 2012

            If all our government ever does is follow EU directives, why not abolish parliament and simply let the civil service get on with the job?

        2. Christopher Ekstrom
          August 6, 2012

          Until Grammer schools are the primary educational goal (UKIP); it’s just rearranging deck chairs on the Titantic.

    2. Richard
      August 5, 2012

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m getting the impression that you are not a big fan of Mr Gove.
      Can I give you my thoughts as just a simple customer of your education system as it has been for several decades, for both me and my children.
      A system which many educational establishment experts keep saying must not change from its comprehensive LEA control and that all we need is more and more money pumping in.
      I see the same schools underperforming now that were underperforming when I went there decades ago.
      Huge increases in the amount of money being put into the system.
      No impetus for improvement as each year the schools are full every September whether they are good or bad.
      No expansion of good schools allowed by the local authority because there are enough places for all.
      So some children are posted Stalin style, to unpopular schools and some hit lucky by post code lottery or catchment area rules and get into one of the better schools.

      We opted out, made great sacrifices and sent our children to fee paying schools.
      I dont see why I should have to need to do this but believe me, it was necessary.
      The amazing fact is that it now costs nearly the same to go to a good fee paying school as the state says it costs to send a child to a state school.

      So whilst it it still very early stages, and at the risk of annoying you, I have to say I like Mr Gove and his Acadamies and his new free schools which in the Birminghan area, like all over the UK, are hugely oversubscribed and very popular with us your long ignored customers.

      They are giving poorer parents who cannot afford to go private, some choice at last and beginning a process which may one day encourage underperforming state schools to improve their performance or close down for good.

      1. Rebecca Hanson
        August 5, 2012

        “A system which many educational establishment experts keep saying must not change from its comprehensive LEA control and that all we need is more and more money pumping in.”

        I don’t know any educational establishment people whare are saying that Richard. What they have consistently said is that education needs to be coherently planned at the local level in some way in the UK and this is true. There has never been any evidence or coherent argument to suggest otherwise. Michael Gove seems to have seized on some recommendations by top economists of education such as E.G. West who suggested that significant local planning was not the best structure for the governance of education in emerging markets where there is no obligation to educate everyone, there are not enough school places and the people who set up the schools are still around to have custodianship of them and applied that to the UK, using his ‘popularity’ with the press to demolish anyone who has raised concerns as being self interested, ignorant, socialist ideologues. While others didn’t see how ignorant Gove’s policies were I always did because E.G. West was a family friend so I properly understood his position. I’ve no interest in making any personal or idealogical points. I just want whoever it is who gets the job of sorting this horrific mess out to be someone who is capable of engaging with the many dedicated and brilliant people around who can genuinely do that. Yes there were some people who were not of that caliber or level of disinterest in the civil service but there were and are many around who are an absolute credit to this country and carry international respect and whoever the next SoS is they need to be capable of working out who they are and listening to them.

        I am sorry your personal experiences of education are so poor. I’m very shocked and suprirsed you have found nothing worth supporting in state education in Birmingham in the past. I understand that you believe Gove is a Messiah who will end the post code lottery efficiently and effectively but would rather you and others were left with the impression that this was always true and the baddies came along later and wrecked the utopia that you clearly believe is so nearly here rather than we allow Michael Gove another few years in charge of education to totally disillusion you of your dream.

        1. Richard
          August 5, 2012

          You greatly distort my words.
          I never said Gove was a Messiah
          I never said educational utopia is nearly here
          I never said there was nothing worth supporting in Birmingham in education over the past decades.
          We want the same things… a decent eduaction for all, wherever you live and whatever your level of wealth.

          Your solution in your blog seems to be better local “coherent planning”….is that it?

          1. Rebecca Hanson
            August 5, 2012

            My apologies for not correctly understanding your position Richard. My mistakes are not deliberate – online discussion is not a perfect medium and the degree of alienation shown in my reply to you is not directed at you personally. I find what’s going on in education heartbreaking and this seeps through in my writing sometimes.

            I’m not offering Utopian solutions Richard but I do have a coherent vision of what bringing appropriate levels of professional freedom to education involves and have found it deeply distressing to watch Gove promise this and do precisely the opposite.

            Appropriate professional freedom in education mean that we need a high quality regulator for state school. This could be easily achieved if Ofsted were obligated to the same standards to which all other regulators are obliged. Instead Gove has used them as weapon and the consequences of this on the ground have been horrific. This is ‘arbeit mach frei’ to professional freedom.

            The second block to appropriate professional freedom is our assessment system which is far to narrow and high stakes. This is a very difficult situation to address for exams at age 16+ because we are living in a competitive world through a recession but could be effectively and powerfully addressed for students for students up to the age of 14 if we developed intelligent policy which understood the possibilities which have been created for integrating formative and summative assessment by internet technologies. But this won’t happen so long as we have a SoS who sacks all the people who are capable of understanding these issues.

            Yes of course we need coherent local planning. Just a few miles away from here in Scotland their schools for the future program continues, with each area being reviewed over 10 years and the economically efficient and effective modes of delivering education and related services being properly and democratically consulted before building takes place. The free schools ideology is completely nuts. Of course what’s happening as happens with all these mad policies is that the intelligent people who LAs would have employed to open schools are opening them anyway – in general with the support and approval of LAs. Most of the people on the ground don’t all go nuts just because the government has. But it’s still inefficient and chaotic and there’s no need for it or benefit from it – although of course history will be written by those who own the press.

            But it’s also heartbreaking to see so many wonderful opportunities being missed. I’m working with the US government project to support the peer to peer online collaboration and networking of teachers which will so clearly bring many benefits. I was working on this in the UK until Gove arrived and immediately stopped it all. Advancing technologies are bringing so many possibilities for state education and Gove hasn’t a clue what they are and has sacked all the people who can see them.

            I just want Gove’s Cultural Revolution in education to end.

        2. Christopher Ekstrom
          August 6, 2012

          Your empty response & absurd name-dropping reveal a lass that enjoys her own regurgitation of media left wing myths about Gove. Poor chap endures this sort of posturing nonsense all day everyday.

          1. Rebecca Hanson
            August 6, 2012

            You seem to have regurgitated the standard discreditation of anyone who has experience in education Christopher.

            Personally I stand aghast at the relentless tirade against anyone with experience which labels them as being ignorant and self interested educationalists and portrays Michael Gove as being a wee superhero, tireless in his quest to rid the world of their evil influence. Why do you buy into this ludicrous picture? I know you’re not the only one but I just have no idea why it makes sense to you and others who fall for it.

            Why is it in any way logical that a very small group of people from the Westminster bubble with no experience in educaiton and precious little life experience or general credibility and who remove and ignore all those with experience rather than working through their own ideas with them until they are fit for purpose will vastly improve state education in Britain?

            Despite Margaret Thatcher’s press image that she came up with the key aspects of her reforms herself the truth was that she had scouts out bringing in the brightest and best from the public and private sectors, academia and wherever they happened to be and was continously sorting and sifting and wisely extracting from what they were saying so that under pressure she and those who worked with her could counter all arguments presented against her key reforms. That’s how she was elected and reelected. Do you believe that relentlessly destroying the reputations and careers of all those with ability is a better mode of governance which will get the Conservative party elected again?

            Do you actually believe that everyone who works in education is ignorant and self interested? Have you never met the kind of teachers and leaders in education who are completley dedicated to their work and are extremely good at it?

            Do you actually believe that I am left wing? Why?

            Do you actually believe that I am regurgitating press nonsense rather than speaking for myself? Why? Which part of the press have I got my comments from Christopher?

            I put it to you that it is you who is guilty of regurgitating media myths and posturing, not me.

            E.G. West’s key book – Education and the State – is dedicated to my dad who he worked with and who helped him critically analyse the thinking he expresses in this seminal work. My dad also wrote some interesting books about economic reforms during the 1980s. I used to type his papers and learned a great deal from discussing them with him. You may consider such comments to be posturing but they are just part of the scenery for me and I think other readers will find them interesting in helping them to understand where some of my comments come from. My comments are always there to be criticised and my references to the people who have informed and influenced them is just part of the scenery – it is not there to insultate my comments or prevent criticism. I hope one day you will be interested in discussing the points made rather than just trying to discredit me Christopher.

        3. Max Dunbar
          August 7, 2012

          Ms Hanson. Summarise the above passage in not more than 100 words avoiding repetition, cliche and hyperbole.

          1. Rebecca Hanson
            August 8, 2012

            In September Michael Gove should be replaced with someone who can engage in constructive discussion with people who deeply understand education rather than discrediting them.

            The new SoS for Education should be genuinely interested in creating professional freedom in education rather than just in doing what Murdoch tells them so that the press will publicise that they are creating professional freedom in education while they actually do precisely the opposite.

            They should have the ability to properly consult to ensure that policies are developed until they become fit for the purpose for which they are intended or are dropped.

          2. Rebecca Hanson
            August 9, 2012

            It’s Mrs Hanson by the way Mr Dunbar but you can call me Rebecca.

      2. Rupert Butler
        August 5, 2012

        The problem is not that our public education is an horrific mess, either before Mr Gove was appointed or through his actions. It is that, under distributed state control, well-funded and ultimately in the hands of highly unionised professionals, our schools have steadily deteriorated by international comparison.

        As an active school governor, I have not until now heard the E G West Centre mentioned as a source of Mr Gove’s policy. I am not sure why you should defend the Centre from his attention. Professor West has been dead some time and the work of the Centre has been good for education in the third world.

        There is something excitable in your arguments. I do not think Richard has “found nothing worth supporting in state education in Birmingham in the past”; talk of Messiah and Utopia is to corrupt the arguments that you disagree with.

        Long before Richard might be disillusioned by Mr Gove, Mr Gove might well be defeated by the educational establishment to which you are acclimatised. We might all fear that, losing the general election of 2015, we will see the good work that Mr Gove has done, being incomplete, turned on its head by the statists in a new Lib-Lab government.

        The topic is government reshuffles. One reason to replace Mr Gove would be that he has used up all his ammunition in his campaign to recast our sclerotic educational system. Then the Prime Minister should perhaps choose someone else. No candidate has had the time that Mr Gove has spent to understand the education system. Yet of course it is the educational system that has prevented the teachers from teaching properly. So it does not matter if the Department of State is in the future much less about education than about resources – nor if the teachers and their heads pay much less attention to it and much more to the parents of their children.

        So be careful Mrs Hanson as to what you wish for – Mr Gove might shuffle to give way to Eric Pickles or someone really unpleasant out of the Whips Office.

        1. Rebecca Hanson
          August 5, 2012

          Indeed I am worried Rupert. There are very few balanced and mature MPs around.

          I do agree with you that James has correctly developed the theories of free markets in education in developing markets for education and I accept that you personally may not understand how key Eddie is in this whole are of the economics of education but I’m not really sure what point you’re trying to make there.

          “It is that, under distributed state control, well-funded and ultimately in the hands of highly unionised professionals, our schools have steadily deteriorated by international comparison.”
          In may ways our state schools have substantially improved. In other ways they have deteriorated. It’s important that the next SoS for education has the ability to discriminate between the relevant aspects and develop policies which will address the real issues which exist and doesn’t just relentlessly write everything off and run revolutions.

          Rupert please do feel free to call me Rebecca.

          1. Rebecca Hanson
            August 5, 2012

            That first comment should have finished – “in evidence in the Conservative party.” 🙂

          2. alan jutson
            August 6, 2012


            No one reading your postings would doubt your passion for education, but can I offer a few very simple observations from someone who has now retired, but used to run his own business and who has employed a number of people over the years.

            No one really seems to know if educational standards have improved or not, because whe are constantly bombarded with information that results have been rising, but that exams and university entry has been dumbed down.

            The fact that we now have a number of different examination boards, with differing standards, complicates any real and proper comparison.

            It would seem from my very limited experience that pupils are now taught to pass examinations, and are not educated in the broader sense of the word, on many subject matters.

            Too many students still do not go to school.
            Too many go to school but fail.
            Too many students are excluded from School
            Too many parents do not encourage their children in education matters.
            Too many parents take no interest in the school.
            Too many students think just because they have passed some examinations, that they are fit for work.
            Too many students have an over inflated opinion of their worth.
            Too many students think they can walk into a well paid job.

            I was forever amazed during interview with job applicants, of the poor quality of Mathematics, English, dress code, timekeeping and general attitude.

            In short many were not fit to work, or did not apear to even want to work.

            So where has it all gone wrong, and it has for many ! .

            Perhaps, just perhaps, the reason is rather more basic than you suggest.

            Perhaps it is lack of Parental and Teacher control.
            Perhaps it is the mantra of political correctness.
            Perhaps it is that some Teachers are not as good as they were or should be.
            Perhaps it is Teacher training which is failing.
            Perhaps it is the lack of a competitive spirit, where no one can be seen to fail.

            And yes perhaps political meddling for idealistic reasons has crucified genuine learning.

            Whatever it is, the Education experiment has failed many for the past number of decades.

            To quote from John Majors time.

            We need to get back to basics.
            To make things more simple.
            To make education relevent to work and todays world.

            Who is best for this I do not know.

            I guarantee making things even more complicated will mess things up even further.

            We surely need just one examination board to operate Nationwide, so that a true standard can be measured for everyone against the same benchmark.

          3. Christopher Ekstrom
            August 6, 2012

            You go on at length & say little. This is not group therapy. I advocate Grammer schools & Charter schools. Gove is not my chap. But you seem to live in a fantasy world in which educrats consult & save the world. That’s what should occur in political leadership. Wake up dearie as the parade is passing you by!

          4. Rebecca Hanson
            August 6, 2012

            “No one really seems to know if educational standards have improved or not”
            In order to analyse this question you need to be precise about which educational standards you are measuring.

            “It would seem from my very limited experience that pupils are now taught to pass examinations, and are not educated in the broader sense of the word, on many subject matters.”
            I think that’s a very important point. I’ve written above about how emerging technologies could be used to get past the worst problems narrow high stakes assessment. They would allow a much wider variety of targets – including personal skills as well as traditional attainment targets to be properly tracked. Efficient professional tracking is one clear key to improvement. But Gove’s policies are militating against progress in these areas.

            Unfortunately at present under Michael Gove we are going in completely the opposite direction to addressing the issue you raise and are instead being forced to focus much more on the rote learning of facts. This is one of the many colossal contradiction of his policies. He keeps quoting declining PISA results to show that improvement are needed but PISA results measure these softer skills you are concerned about, not rote learning. TIMSS results which track rote learning of core skills are positive. His ‘solutions’ to the problem all involve shutting down the initiatives which were designed to address the real issues which compromise PISA result and demanding more rote learning. It’s so mad it’s really hard to describe clearly.

            You raise many other issues Alan – too many to address in a single reply. If there’s one or two you’d like me to respond to please say.

          5. Rebecca Hanson
            August 6, 2012

            @ Christopher.

            If you click on my name you will see just one of many bits of evidence that I live in a real world where I and many other make a difference.

            Funnily enough when people patronise me about living in a fantasy world it is often the case that their websites fail to demonstrate a sound grasp of reality. 🙂

  17. Chris Rose
    August 5, 2012

    Come the next general election the crucial question will be whether this government has made progress in resolving the appalling economic problems bequeathed to it by the previous administration. The Coalition has done good work on a number of fronts, but it has not made sufficient progress with the economy: government spending is too high, taxation is too high, the problems of the nationalised banks have not been resolved and the implementation of supply-side reforms has been minimal.

    The two ministers crucial to success in the economic field are the Chancellor and the Business Secretary. In my view the current chancellor is out of his depth and should be replaced; several Conservative MPs are well qualified to replace him.

    The Business Secretary has been consistently hostile to supply-side reform and should be replaced; there is one Liberal-Democrat, who has brief ministerial experience, well qualified to replace him.

    No doubt there are other changes the PM would like to make in a reshuffle; they may be important, but they are minor compared with the two I have mentioned.

  18. Jerry
    August 5, 2012

    Surely this amounts to window dressing during a blitz!

    It’s not the people, but the policies, unless the latter change does it really matter who is in charge of a department?

  19. Sue
    August 5, 2012

    “but only Conservative MPs who have always voted with the government will be considered for promotion” – which only goes to prove how utterly inadequate Cameron is. I think this policy is despicable and is one of the reasons Cameron is disliked. He surrounds himself with “yes” men.

    Those who voted against the government, especially the new intake give us a glimmer of hope. To see some voting on behalf of their constituents at the risk of their careers is thoroughly refreshing. They have all gained our respect.

    Now the wimmin are going to hate me. Sorry, I believe the person who is best qualified should get whatever position is going. I would hate to think I had been “given” a job because I was a woman and not because I was the best man for the job!

    As MickC says above, the ideal reshuffle would be to get rid of Cameron. He is a two-faced liar. I still look at that youtube video where he smugly sits there justifying having a referendum while Labour was still in power. Now that he’s conned his way into the PM position, every single promise of repatriation of powers has gone. I honestly dislike the man intensely.

    1. zorro
      August 5, 2012

      I can think of several occasions where he has shown that he does not like to be challenged and has made it patently clear. It is a measure of his insecurity that he feels that he has to surround himself with unchallenging ‘yes’ men (or women)…


  20. Derek Emery
    August 5, 2012

    Increasing women on boards is and EU directive or as good as. All the EU is about is entitlement, entitlement , entitlement and never ever about performance. That is why its future is to slowly sink in the west.
    See “Getting Women into Boardrooms” at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/world/europe/28iht-quota.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    to quote
    … The Michigan study found that as the boards in Norway grew younger and more inexperienced, performance declined. This occurred despite average annual gains of more than 14 percent in Oslo’s benchmark stock index during the 2001-7 study period.
    Using a common market-based measure of corporate governance, known as Tobin’s Q, the study found that companies in Norway actually performed an average of 20 percent worse the year after adopting the quotas, with those companies that were required to make the most drastic changes to their boards suffering the largest negative impact…

  21. Sebastian Weetabix
    August 5, 2012

    What perturbed me, more than anything, is how callow some of those holding high office are. Chloe Smith? I wouldn’t have her as a mid-ranking HR supervisor. Perhaps in 10 years she might have enough life experience to be useful at managing a large enterprise. Jeremy Hunt appears not to have a brain in his head. I presume these people are appointed because in the former case she is female and in the latter case due to agreeable chumminess.

    It’s no way to run a country.

    1. zorro
      August 5, 2012

      Chloe Smith – Cast Elastic’s legendary judgement at work……..”Smith, who was appointed as exchequer secretary because David Cameron wrongly believed she was a trained accountant…”




      1. forthurst
        August 6, 2012

        One has to admire his deductive reasoning though, presumably fine honed by his PPE course.
        accountancy firm=chartered accountant=good at sums.
        Obviously, he was not aware that those firms branched out into consultancy decades ago and had consequently never met an ‘android’.
        Is a background in auditing and company law, a prerequisite for a junior treasury role?

  22. Ken Stevens
    August 5, 2012

    Whatever factors lead to it, I am delighted when MPs show independence of spirit by rebelling against a government line (whichever party, whichever government) despite wrecking their chances of preferment. That’s far better than what gave rise to the old Gilbert & Sullivan song:

    “I always voted at my party’s call
    And I never thought of thinking for myself at all
    I thought so little, they rewarded me
    By making me the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy”

  23. Matthew
    August 5, 2012

    A reshuffle although welcome, would be of little value without a plan for growth.
    I would like to see a
    -re negotiation of powers with the EU, focused on those that will make the UK more competitive.
    A breakup of the banks, to assist business
    Control of non EU immigration
    The new intake of Conservative MP’s is impressive, but as they have limited exposure it’s difficult to make a selection, but David Davis would be a welcome addition.
    Outgoing I would like to see-

    George Osborne – Budget was a mess, he trades on austerity myth, his compliance with the BOE in disastrous QE , failed on inflation, plus worst of the Euro zone crisis to come, need a good pair of hands

    Ian Duncan Smith – good start not enough cuts in welfare for long term claimants – £billions to save here

    Baroness Warsi – Out of her depth

    Theresa May – net migration failure

    Francis Maude – Achieved little

    Vince Cable – off beat and treacherous, will cause a problem eventually

    David Willets – water down university entry requirements

    Ken Clarke – why was he brought in?

  24. Anoneumouse
    August 5, 2012

    Is it not time to restore the clause that was originally in section III of the Act of Settlement 1700. (An Act for the further Limitation of the Crown and better securing the Rights and Liberties of the Subject)


    “That no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving as a member of the House of Commons”

    That would mean that any serving MP who becomes a minister of the Crown must resign his/her seat and a by-election held. This would enforce a real separation of government from Legislature.

    This provision is often used as a ‘legal fiction’ by MPs wishing to quit Parliament, by applying for office of profit, e.g.Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead or of the Chiltern Hundreds.

    1. Martin Ryder
      August 5, 2012

      The people who drafted the Act of Settlement in 1700 were right; the people we elect to Parliament to control the executive should not be eligible for jobs within the executive. Our government and our representatives in Parliament should be separate and be elected by separate processes.

      Political parties, or groups of interested citizens, should, six months before each general election, put together a proposal for a government listing the people who would fill each government position, showing the cost and experience of those people and the policies that they would adopt if in government; with special emphasis on expected taxation and borrowing levels.

      All details should be published on the House of Commons website and voters, armed with this information, or whatever they read in the papers or hear on the TV or in their local pub, choose which of the proposed governments they prefer. In the likely event that none of the governments on offer gets more than 40% of the vote, the two receiving the most votes should go into a second round one week after the first election.

      The elected government would occupy the government front bench in the Commons and the opposition front benches would be occupied on a pro rata basis of the first round results by the leaders of the prospective governments that lost the election.

      Backbenchers should be elected as now at the same time as the second round. Only backbenchers would be allowed to vote on bills, though the occupants of the front benches could talk for or against new bills, as could the backbenchers.

      Of course nothing remotely like this will happen, as leaders of parties much prefer the idea of governments controlling the representatives of the people, rather than the reverse.

      As for your question Mr Redwood, Mr Cameron is not interested in democracy or equality, as his actions in rigging the last EU elections so that a Conservative woman would be elected in each EU constituency, regardless of the number of votes she received. He is also not interested in an efficient government, as has been proved by the inefficient government that he leads, he is only interested in keeping in with the politically correct self serving and self selecting metropolitan elite that lays like a sodden wet blanket over this country of ours.

      He will therefore choose women and men who will do as he tells them to run the great offices of state; rather than choose the best man or woman who could take the office of state by the scruff of its permanent secretary’s neck and get it to do its job properly. Mind you he will not be the first Prime Minister to do that.

      1. Jerry
        August 5, 2012

        The point of this would be what? Even if such a system could be made to work, not only would it add several layers of cost to the democratic process but the worst thing wrong with it would be to leave the unelected Civil Service having to make policy for the country far more than they do already because the “government” would have no mandate and thus no authority for anything that wasn’t in their manifesto -in other words anything, unforeseen, that crops up after the election, such as Falklands or the Banking Crisis to give two examples- the leader of the majority party would be constitutionally prevented from making any decisions as all any MP can do is merely vote on what is presented to the the floor of the House.

        I can’t see any merit in it what so ever, and many were describing Clegg’s Lords Reform Bill as a dogs breakfast!… Sorry.

  25. Acorn
    August 5, 2012

    I reshuffled all the songs on my wife’s MP3 player. She plays it in her car on “random selection”. She said it didn’t make any difference as far as she could tell. Just like Parliament I suppose. “ya, boo, sucks to you!” party politics based government is here for ever and ever …. and ever. Sclerosis of the political economy; institutional sclerosis, call it what you may, we got it.

    Can you imagine having candidates for parliament who picked a party, if any, they preferred, rather than the other war around? Imagine electing a PM separately; and, having his, appointed, Cabinet outside of the legislature. Imagine if we all frogs in water and the water kept on getting hotter and hotter. Would there be a hero who shouts “time to jump out”; “I’m with you Boris, lead the way”.

  26. forthurst
    August 5, 2012

    ‘A fish rots from the head down’ and this particular fish is a real stinker. Cameron is the head, but his CNS is Oliver Letwin, his ‘Mainframe Computer’.

    ‘With one bound Jack was free’, or as JR has advised, Greece has only to leave the euro to start to recover from its ECB inflicted depression. We are not controlled by the ECB, apart from assisting to bankroll the wounded economies it has created, so why are we in recession, despite the deliberate adulteration of our currency and the ensuing onslaught on annuity rates?

    This government is not working. Furthermore, it’s foreign policy of grovelling to those who wish to create the maximum amount of mayhem in the ME short of indirectly causing any harm to their favourite little country, is not in our national interest and the lies, daily cascading from the MSM, will not convince us otherwise as anyone bothering to read the comments, appended to those lies will establish. A more popular move, according to that same unofficial commentariat, would be to promote Aidan Burley to a role, probably in the Home Office, or possibly elsewhere where his cultural insights might be put to good use.

    1. zorro
      August 5, 2012

      Cameron would have a fit of the vapours if you suggested that!


  27. Graham Swift
    August 5, 2012

    Reshuffle ? Who cares ? LibDem Cameron had destroyed the party. Liebour landslde will follow. An ‘Arab Spring’ would be the best solution.

    1. Christopher Ekstrom
      August 6, 2012

      Always was the goal. Cast Iron is a traitor; how Mr. Redwood endures open & daily destruction of the Tory party is a true mystery.

  28. Neil Craig
    August 5, 2012

    The main reshuffle needed is the departure of Cameron, which he is not going to do. He is the one most committed to the anti-tecjnology windmillery which, even more than over regulation, is responsible for the current recession.

    There is a certain amount of briefing against Osborne because he is officially responsible for the economy & if a human sacrifice is needed he is the only one of the big 4 who is not Cameron or an LD. However it is quite clear that he is the only 1 of the 4 who may actually somewhat want to get out of recession. Of course if he went and the recessionndidn’t end Cameron would be next in line for sacrifice.

  29. Jon
    August 5, 2012

    We don’t want to see the calamity of the last government reshuffling every few months so no ministers every got to understand their charge. A tactic employed by a previous socialist in history to prevent potential takeovers.

    Thats said whilst I do want the continuity to drive policy through and the greater level of expertise that comes with time in the post new people can deliver two things to the cabinet and sub cabinet.

    1 – MPs who have the latest thinkings of their constituents, ministerial jobs are far too busy to keep a handle on that in the longer term.
    2 – Fresh thinking. The economy and other issues evolve as policies are enacted, it could benefit from minds that have studied their areas and can bring to the party.

    On the whole I think ministerial roles are for the tried and tested. The rare likes of Louise Mensch on the select committee is a rising star but for ministerial roles we need the grey hairs like in the dot com era.

    Mr Osborne has the most difficult job and the most important. Its not going to get easier going forward, the leader needs to look at where the true friends are in this. Who is going to buckle in those who surround Mr Osborne in a couple of years time?

    When times are tough there is nothing that can replace family. Times will get tougher still and Mr Cameron needs to re engage with his family before then.

  30. Bert Young
    August 5, 2012

    There is little hope of Cameron analysing change and the need for change in the way you have done ; he has made the mistake in the past of appointing “yes men” and , I suspect , will do so again . I have already been told by a neighbour of mine who is also a member of the local Conservative Party committee , that our local MP is to be offered a slot , he , as you have indicated , has always voted according to the Cameron line and is not the sort of chap to stick his chin out . I suggest you send DC a copy of your blog and some of the replies ; there is a lot of experience out there and a great deal of cynicism – he would be wise to take it on board .

    1. Martyn
      August 5, 2012

      Agree – for example a few days ago in the light of comment about the suitability of Mr O remaining Chancellor he announced “he will be with me as Chancellor until the 2015 elections”. I other words “never mind the economy, stupid, friendship and loyalty to my preferred clique is much more important to me than the state of the nation”.

      I suppose that politics being politics adopting that position in good times might be slightly more acceptable, but we are currently facing the likely huge adverse effects (and costs) on the UK economy of the ongoing Euro melt-down. And what does he have to say about that? Not much, other than that he will not consider re-negotiating our position with the EU.

      In other words, “don’t worry old man, my friends and I will think of something as events unfold”. I have long thought that we should put the Women’s Institute in charge of the economy – they at least know how to properly manage a budget, household and otherwise!

  31. Cary
    August 5, 2012

    The only reshuffle that will make any significant difference is one at the very top.

    “The loyalties which centre upon number one are enormous. If he trips, he must be sustained. If he make mistakes, they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good, he must be pole-axed.” Winston Churchill

  32. Caterpillar
    August 5, 2012

    As has been noted in several places (e.g. http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2012/08/02/can-the-u-k-grow-through-devaluation/?mod=WSJBlog&mod=WSJ_source_blog) the GBP destruction policy followed by the BoE, presumably supported by the Treasury was a high risk gamble and, as expected, is failing. Although I do not dislike the Chancellor and Chief Secretary to the Treasury as much as many maight, I do think they need to be swapped for others who will get the BoE and monetary policy back in line, as well as bringing budgets under control. I would have nothing against bringing David Laws back and (if the MoD can take it) bring in Hammond and Luff, as people who at least appear to be able to do arithmetic.

  33. John Orchard
    August 5, 2012

    Lets face it, who in the Cabinet stands out as being on top of their game? There are none to my mind who set the World on fire. We need the new back benchers who have stood up to Cameron such as Priti Patel and others but having stood up he will have marked their card like the posh schoolboy he is. John look at where your party is going with people deserting since hopeless Cameron became leader and then PM. You need him and the likes of Clarke , Osborne and the majority of the others to be moved out. At the present rate you are on a hiding to nothing in 2015 and look who will be elected!!!!!

  34. iain gill
    August 5, 2012

    Like most of the country im upset by positive discrimination for women and ethnics and the complete absence of the normal working class and regional accents of the majority of the population. Id like some proper equal opportunity and men with working class accents visible and prominent.

  35. Jane
    August 5, 2012

    I am pleased that David Cameron has not engaged (so far)in the merry go round of reshuffles. As you say, it must take some time to master ones brief and too often people are not permitted this.

    Further, whilst there are many really good MPs who have recently joined the House of Commons and there talents would be helpful, all promotions should be on merit rather than appeasing different wings or sex balance of the party. The problem is exacerbated in being a coalition government and I am sure that many people who held shadow positions are bitterly disappointed that they did not get a post in government.

    I am not sure about the need to promote minority groups and I say this as a woman. Theresa May has always been an excellent MP and is doing a sterling job in the horrible post of Home Office. Justine Greening is also very good although the young woman in the Treasury does not come over as being in control of her brief.

    I think the current Secretaries of State are doing a good job despite some awful press coverage. The press have villified Ken Clarke and have moved to George Osborne. Some back bench MPs are promoted in the press as being the saviour of one group or another. I am astonished that David Davis gets such a press given that he acted as a child in calling an election to massage his ego never mind the taxpayer having to fund his antics. I do not think he should ever hold a post in government. Further, in a rather clever way he tries to undermine the leadership and again I have no time for disloyalty as a voter.

    I do not believe that only those who vote with the government should be promoted as every individual has a conscience. I dislike disloyalty and comments such as those of Nadine Dorries – dreadful woman. I honestly believe that some people do not have the ability to learn from past mistakes. Have conservative MPs forgotten that they have been out of government for some thirteen years and whilst you may not agree Mr Redwood, the electorate loathe infighting and disloyalty. Look at how the last Government behaved in the early years – internal discipline was apparent. I know there were two camps running at the same time but this was hidden from the electorate until later in the parliament. I do not sense the party discipline within the Conservative Government and feel that dissent should be better managed.

    Finally, people should be promoted on merit and not because they are of an ethnic group or particular gender. So what if the opposition in particular Harriet hits you with sexual inequality. This does not resonate with women in the real world as we have always had to compete in the workplace. Those who are worthy of promotion based on merit are generally able to disagree with some elements of policy and to explain this is a way that is not anti David Cameron. (Nadine Dorries and DavidDavis are not skilled in this respect). That is the test of someone who would be a good Minister and it is wrong to say they are ultra loyal which is why they will be promoted. It relates to the skills they have in holding perhaps different views and expressing them in a professional and not personal manner.

    1. rose
      August 7, 2012

      Hear, hear Jane. Quite right about loyalty. Lord Whitelaw always understood this – as a soldier. A divided party cannot win. And it’s best to back a horse you know can run, he used to say, when they were trying to topple Mrs T. “We know this horse can run.”

      I particularly agree with you on quotas. If I feel represented by someone like Lady Warsi – and she hasn’t been elected – it is not because she is a woman, but because she is a forthright Northerner who says what other politicians are too prissy to say. I’m not a Northerner myself, and I’m not a Pakistani either, or an immigrant at all, but I like her candour. It was the same with Norman Tebbit. I loved him, and I still do. A very good brain, and a very good man. I’m not a man, and I’m not from Essex, but he spoke for me, and he still does. So no more of this “two posh boys” nonsense from Nadine D. If someone went to the best school, then good. If they went to the best university – as Mr R did – then better still. We can’t all go to good schools and good universities, and we haven’t all got good brains or formidable diplomatic skills. But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate and be thankful for those who have.

      The best thing Boris has done is to dispel all that Nadine nonsense. Very blonde, very grand, very male, very old-fashioned, very well-educated, very well off, quite a few skeletons now out of the cupboard – and everyone loves him.

  36. Paul
    August 5, 2012

    A reshuffle? You mean swapping a few incompetent politicians with a few more? There is a massive lack of talent in the Conservative Party and the other two main parties as well. The very small amount of talent in the commons is wasted on the backbenches, probably because it is these MPs who have a few principles and actively stand up for what they believe in. Still, it is wrong to blame the politicians I suppose as it is the British people who put these people where they are. The Conservative Party needs to wake up and ditch Cameron before the next election to save us from another five years of him, or much more likely, Ed Miliband.

  37. uanime5
    August 5, 2012

    Unless the reshuffle puts more MPs with relevant skills into the top jobs it won’t make any difference.

  38. David Spayne
    August 5, 2012

    There should be more MPs in the cabinet who are older, and so thus near to retirement.
    That way they will be more independent, as they will not be worrying about spoiling their future chances if they speak against policies. Also they would bring in more experience which younger members will not possess.

  39. norman
    August 6, 2012

    There is no need for a plan B. Plan A is working perfectly. Fill the cabinet with complete non-entities who either couldn’t rustle up an original policy between them or who are passionate about a particular area (Gove, IDS) and so won’t have any ambitions outside of that.

    How the economy, public services, etc. performs, why, what Cabinet Minister uses them?

    No reshuffle, keep Cameron in No.10 and his mate next door (Plan A), that’s what we must keep our eye on and nothing should deflect the Conservative Party from acheiveing that laudable goal.

    If anyone disagrees please tell me what the aim of this government is? And no mealy mouth ‘we plan to do this or that’ but based on what has been acheieved to date.

    1. norman
      August 6, 2012

      Mensch to NY, Boris to Corby seems a sensible reshuffle.

      Odds on second term shorten.

  40. Atlas
    August 6, 2012

    Quote: ” A September Reshuffle”

    Would that be before or after the Conservative Party conference? And, in that vein, what about the Lib-Dem conference timing?

  41. Lindsay McDougall
    August 6, 2012

    I’m only interested in policy improvements. If it needs a reshuffle to bring them about, so be it. Bill Cash as Minister for Europe. Dismissal of EU Foreign Minister Baroness What’s-her-name without replacement. Some of the Eurosceptic 2010 intake, preferably women so that Mr Cameron can learn the consequences of his trendiness. John Redwood as Financial Secretary or Business Secretary. The return of David Laws, one of the saner Liberal Democrats (goodbye, Vince).

  42. David Langley
    August 6, 2012

    I am not going to speculate on the makeup of the next cabinet. I want a party in power that convinces me that they have the real interests of the country at heart and not their own peculiar or pecuniary interests at heart. Its what goes on in the Eurozone that is currently important not who wields the rubber stamp in No 10.
    If you want a job description for membership of our cabinet then give me a call after the next election. Nothing that is going to happen until then is of any import.

  43. uanime5
    August 6, 2012

    One thing I’d recommend is not allowing ministers to dismiss civil servants that disagree with them and replace them with yes men. They tried this in Zimbabwe and Uganda, and not only did it severely reduce the ability of the Government but it made it impossible for anyone to become a civil servant, teacher, doctor, police officer, army officer, or public servant if they didn’t subscribe to the ruling party’s ideology.

    This country needs civil servants that will stand up to inept ideas by ministers, not dolts who blindly wreck the country because an idiot minister didn’t know what they were doing.

    1. zorro
      August 7, 2012

      May I humbly, totally, and utterly agree with you 100% on this point…?


  44. rose
    August 6, 2012

    I have never seen the point of reshuffling for reshuffling’s sake. It is something the media like though. It gives them the chance to bully ministers, by pretending to have inside knowledge they haven’t got, for instance. And it’s easier to gossip about who’s in and who’s out than get down to analysing our problems and their solutions.

    I liked the PM’s idea of letting ministers find out how to do their jobs and then stick to them.

  45. Max Dunbar
    August 6, 2012

    You use the word “managing” more than once. That really sums Cameron up. He is a manager.

    1. peter davies
      August 7, 2012

      That’s what any PM would be – because most of the laws and regulations come from outside so have to be ‘managed’ through parliament

  46. Mike Wilson
    August 7, 2012

    No blog on the House of Lords reform debacle? Perhaps I can link it to this topic by saying that the actions of the Tory MP refusniks will mean the subject of cabinet posts will soon be academic. The coalition IS going to break apart soon and a large number of Tory MPs will be looking for jobs following the subsequent election.

    I despair. I despair at the current government’s lack of ambition and inability to get the message across to the country. We’re in debt, we’re in a lot of debt – and we have to cut the size of the state and get the economy moving. And this is how we’re going to do it.

    Out here – in the country – you know the place where the people who vote live and work – we have NO IDEA what the government is doing about anything. It seems as though nothing is happening – apart from coming up with more ways to squeeze some more tax out of us. Let’s FRIGHTEN them into paying more tax eh? Let’s tell them not to pay their plumber in cash! It is absolutely pathetic.

    We need leadership! No matter how bad the situation, if someone leads from the front people will follow. Instead we have a 100 Tory MPs smugly stifling the promise of House of Lords reform made in the coalition agreement. Well their smiles won’t last long – they’ll get their P45s and, heaven help us, Labour will be back in to finish the job of completely destroying the economy and the future prospects of our children and grandchildren.

    Simple messages are what is needed. But, instead, there is a vacuum in government.

    Reply: I blogged on reform of Lords a few days ago, forecasting what has happened. Please read that if you want to know my view.

  47. peter davies
    August 7, 2012

    My belief is that it doesn’t make a jot of difference who holds what position in Govt because they are locked into so many EU rules and directives which keeps them on the same path so you could almost say the same with a change of government.

    You could also say the same about the Civil Service Mandarins, I bet many of them run rings around govt ministers – I think they have become too politicized since Bliars time in office.

    So until the PM has the courage to address the above by perhaps putting more MPs into Ministries to steer the civil service and beefing up or creating an EU Ministry with the specific purpose of weeding out EU Legislation (and repealing all the wasteful pointless tosh that goes through) then nothing will change.

  48. rose
    August 7, 2012

    “The main reason this government is at odds with many Conservative backbenchers is its refusal to demand a new relationship with the EU. If they would change that they could make the Conservative party much happier with its leadership.”

    We can all see this. But what do you do when there aren’t enough conservatives to give you a working majority? People have had the chance again and again to vote for traditional conservative policies, for less immigration, for less EU domination, for lower tax, less regulation, smaller state, welfare reform, etc. etc. but they choose in overwhelming numbers not to, despite the UKIP whistling in the dark. So you have to have a coalition with the Liberals. And they need to see the disaster of the EU in full horrific technicolour before they can be brought round to common sense. Eventually they might see, as even Brown saw the single currency wasn’t a good idea for that moment.

  49. rose
    August 7, 2012

    Margaret Thatcher was also governing in coalition – of the Conservatives and the minority Thatcherites. That is why she had to appoint people she didn’t want to waste valuable time arguing with in cabinet. DC has had to do the same. Both of them haven’t been able to do all they wanted. She was never able to shake off the EU and she couldn’t sort out the teachers or the lawyers, let alone all the social problems she was itching to get down to. If she hadn’t been in “Coalition” with people like Clark and Heseltine, Pym, and all the rest of them (you know who they were), just think what she could pulled off.

    1. rose
      August 7, 2012

      Sorry, Clarke, not Clark.

      1. rose
        August 7, 2012

        And DC’s position is further complicated by having inherited a politically corrupted civil service topped by an overweening cabinet secretary. Mrs T had a terrible time with the Dept of Education and Science, it is true – full of Ted Wragglets – but at least she had a decent cabinet secretary in Robert Armstrong – the last decent one. He probably knows more than anyone about how things work and should work – bar the Queen.

        1. zorro
          August 7, 2012

          Really?……Is that why he has agreed appointments to Permanent Secretary level and CEO level during his PMship who were notoriously in charge of poor performing departments? Who knows, maybe they share a Common Purpose…..?


  50. Socrato
    August 8, 2012

    Will a cabinet reshuffle really solve anything? Many of the policies need to change or be accelerated. But can this happen? Not really. Solution: Give impression of change and new impetus.

    I would forward the following notes to any incumbents / potential candidates for consideration.

    1) The Economy / Jobs
    – Non/ill-functioning monetary transmission mechanism which is not supporting business confidence and subsequent investment
    – In view of the cuts coming in the latter half of the parliament – not enough real focus on starting the large infrastructure projects necessary to support aggregate demand and private sector employment creation
    – Disjointed policy
    – Unnecessary complications in Tax / self-assessment system – a simpler system for all is required – but where are the studies / policies to deliver this?
    – Re-profiling of expenditures away from consumptive to productive ends…we need to pay labour to build capital assets which can then be sold off – once demand has returned to more stable footing, as opposed to paying labour to stay at home

    2) Migration
    – Really get a handle on the immigration numbers and take steps to try to document who should be here and who should not be here.
    – Ensure border agency is staffed and functioning correctly – perhaps even offering re-training to our many brave soldiers who are set to return to civvy street
    – Secure ECHR exemptions in cases of national security / seek to return control of these policies to our parliament

    3) Education
    – Press on with independent schools and focus on raising basic level of competence for school leavers. Too much focus has been on higher education and whilst noble – is to the detriment of the rump of potential candidates for youth unemployment.

    4) Health
    – The inability to attain savings without cutting front line services should be a major cause of concern. Now while central government cannot directly control what health authorities / PCTs do – it seems clear to me that there is an agenda in local authorities and PCTs to make the government look bad by cutting front line services – even if there is no need to undertake such measures. This needs to be looked into properly else it will cause large problems for the government.

    5) Defence
    – A coherent strategy is required in line with expected (reduced) future commitments.
    – Try to accelerate exit from zones of conflict – thereby saving money and lives.

    6) Energy
    – Need to accelerate plans to build nuclear
    – R&D to commercialise Thorium / safer alternatives
    – Energy efficiency measures given top priority as these will save on our national fuel bill but also create valuable demand across the country for local services and hopefully products.
    – Massive drive (apols) to incentivise purchases of extremely fuel efficient vehicles – preferably those with high local content. Imagine how much our trade balance would improve if we could increase average fuel efficiency from say 25 mpg to 80+mpg – not to mention reduction in CO2.

    7) Regional Policy
    – Increase the competitiveness of regional economies via regional wage setting (to reflect generally lower local costs of living)
    – Encourage shift to regions by aggressive tax policy coupled with employment incentives
    – Improve transport infrastructure and integration
    – Relocate more government departments out of overpriced and overcrowded London thus generating cost savings
    – Encourage tele-commuting

    8) Government
    – Instead of focussing on boundary changes or reform of the Lords – why not attack the central problems of disengagement and apathy brought about by a largely ineffective and unresponsive policy formation process.
    – Increase the roll-out of e-government
    – Implement large salary cuts across the board firstly for MPs (sorry JR) and then for civil servants – the public would then believe the rhetoric that we are all in this together. This is a very serious issue.
    – Before releasing policies – check they are coherent and costed….at times it seems utterly shambolic – certainly in terms of media management.

    just my 2 centimes…

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