Reshuffles can go wrong

 

Past Prime Ministers have often been damaged by their  reshuffles. The reason is simple. There is no sensible personnel function for Ministers in modern government.

It begins with the failure to map the interests, experience and qualifications of the talent pool, the MPs and peers available for appointment. It is worsened by those who may include friends and spin doctors of the Prime Minister who think the best way to conduct the run up to a reshuffle is a discussion of the merits and especially the  failings of the candidates in  the press without involving them. It can reach a climax with job offers to people who have no wish to do the job in question, allied to attempts to sack people from office who had no idea they were likely to lose their job and who are most reluctant to leave.

A badly conducted reshuffle ends with the Prime Minister having more unhappy colleagues. Those outside the tent who wanted to be Ministers have been passed over again, often with no explanation. Former Ministers have been bruised by the sacking and the unpleasant briefing that often accompanies it. Some Ministers who have been moved or kept in place remain unhappy because they are not doing the job they want or even deserve. So how could all this be changed and improved?

The first thing that needs doing is a Prime Minister needs to upgrade the Whips office to be more of a modern personnel function. Whips should know more about MPs’ past training, experiences and abilities. They need to have a way of keeping the PM informed of the talent available. They need to know what individual MPs and peers would like to do, and they need to manage expectations where these are unrealistic. In cases where they are possible they could guide the individual into what actions would be helpful for that MP or peer to take to make their appointment more likely. Proper mapping of wishes and skills might find many MPs and peers will be able to have a job they would like and is suited to them. Not all MPs want to be Ministers. Some want to be Select Committee Chairmen, or Deputy Speakers, or strong minded backbenchers. In my time as an MP I have only once been asked what job I would like to do. I made three  suggestions. I was never told why I did not get any one of them!

The second thing that is required is better management of Ministers in post. I put in place a system of regular meetings between directly reporting Cabinet Ministers and the PM when I advised Margaret Thatcher. I felt it was important that a senior Minister should hear from the PM about what she wanted to see and what she thought of his department’s work, and that the Cabinet member should get a private opportunity to criticise what Number 10 was doing, or to ask for more help, or to warn where things might be difficult. I wanted to make sure there were no surprises either way. The PM needed to know the truth about the big picture in each department, and the Minister needed to know if he was supported or was expected to raise or change his game.

Cabinet Ministers should do this for their junior Ministers. I worked closely with junior Ministers when they reported to me, using a system of regular  review of the progress they were making through weekly meetings and informal discussions. Cabinet Ministers should be consulted on the junior Ministers   reporting to them  before they are reshuffled.

The third thing  that would help is to do more to mentor and train Ministers. There should be a  course for those who want to be Ministers which most MPs could take whilst hoping for preferment. This would cover the law as it applies to Ministers, Ministerial powers, collective responsibility, handling the workload, managing the diary, relating to the public and media and working through Parliament. Doing the course would also  be useful to MPs seeking to hold Ministers to account. Completion of it would not guarantee  promotion.

The fourth thing is to manage retirements or “resignations”. Where the PM wishes to get rid of a colleague they should  be given warnings of what is expected of them and what they need to improve before being sacked. If Ministers understand that positions generally are 2-5 years in length there should be no shame or bad briefing if their tenure is terminated, as there can be no automatic right to promotion.  Some people will do a good job as junior Ministers for a period of years, and should be allowed to retire from the Ministerial role with thanks for their service. Entry into the Cabinet needs proof that the individual has a wider political pulling power, support within the Parliamentary party and the wider public,  a strategic sense and an ability to manage a large organisation, amongst a range of requirements.l

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

82 Comments

  1. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    It seems to me there have been far fewer major reshuffles this parliament, I suppose this is a function of coalition and announcing the intention to have a fixed-term parliament. I think this is an advantage of the fixed-term approach, you can put someone in to run (say) education and tell them they have 5 years to implement plans which avoids to some extent the short-termism that plagues politics.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 15, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Roy

      All seems rather pointless having a reshuffle now, with just 9 months to go before the General election.

      Time for the reshuffle would have been after two years, if people were not performing.

      Cameron can of course only reshuffle part of the cabinet, as he has no control over the LibDems element.

  2. Mark B
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    John Redwood MP said;
    ” Not all MPs want to be Ministers. Some want to be Select Committee Chairmen, or Deputy Speakers, or strong minded backbenchers.”

    Personally, I think it is time we took a different view of things.

    What about MP’s becoming ‘just’ good constituency MP’s and part of the legislature that keeps the executive in check.

    The fact that the Executive is made from those of the Legislature, who may be kind to the Government and the PM, because they wish to curry favour and advance their own careers over the interests of the people.

    Further, those Ministers drawn from the Legislature, that is supposed to hold the Executive to account, cannot vote against Government whilst in office yet, the Government can use or threaten to withdraw the Whip from non-Ministerial MP’s.

    This means the PM and the Executive have far too much power over Parliament and, the Country. The PM is therefore, in my view, a King in all but name.

    Having a system of Government such is this, is not conducive to good democracy. It’s more a shamocracy.

    It is time I believe, to separate the Executive from the Legislature.

    Further, it is also time to look into major reform of the HoL. It needs to become a proper elected Senate. Not a rest house for those who want to remain on the political gravy train.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      While I agree that the House of Lords would be improved by some reform, I do not agree that election is the way forward. If election fails to give one house of Parliament that can successfully fulfil the role of government what makes you think more elections to a second house will make things any better?

      • Mark B
        Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        No system can ever be said to be perfect. But at least they (HoL / Senate) can claim to have a democratic mandate.

        One can have a system whereby 1/3rd of the Upper House is elected every 2 years via PR or STV.

        Whatever your likes or dislikes of the current system, you cannot in all honesty consider it democratic and even representative.

      • APL
        Posted July 15, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        Alan Wheatley: “what makes you think more elections to a second house will make things any better?”

        Elections to the Lords would be infinitely better than appointment on the basis of favours to political parties.

        The civil list ought to be abolished. Or slimmed down and returned to the exclusive gift of the monarch.

        The Lords, elected and the term should be perhaps seven or eleven years, with elections staggered from the elections to the Commons.

    • acorn
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Agree 100% Mark B. The “executive” should not be in the “legislature”. Choosing an executive from 650 amateur carpetbaggers, leaves the economy at a major disadvantage when it comes to competently managing it.

      Particularly during this coalition government, the irrelevance of non-executive MPs both in the HoC and in Bill Committees, has become most noticeable. The executive has a lock on legislation both primary and secondary.

      I suggest we elect the Prime Minister by popular vote nationwide and that PM would appoint his cabinet from a much wider learned society in industry and commerce. Like the US President does, perhaps not the circa 1,000 that he appoints mind you.

      UK is over dominated by the legacy political parties, they have to be relegated to a supporting role for elected persons that want to follow a particular ideology; rather that owning MPs as they do at the moment as “lobby fodder”. We need non-partisan open primary elections for that to happen. That is where the candidate chooses the party he prefers, if any, and not the party choosing the candidate they will allow you to vote for.

      Unfortunately, there is no mechanism for achieving any of the above.

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        Although the fusion of powers was intended to prevent corruption from extra governmental organisations. We see that big business intervention in the presidency model.

    • David Murfin
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      That is how it was intended to be back in 1701 when there was this clause in the Act of Settlement:

      “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”.

      But that didn’t last long,

      “The important point to note is that had the original restriction included in the Act of Settlement remained in force, then no member of the House of Commons would have been able to have accepted office as a Minister of the Crown, which would have enforced a strict separation of the executive from the legislature.”

  3. Timaction
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a place from the very distant past in need of radical reform.
    In the meantime over 70% of our laws are made in Brussels and parliament has become quite irrelevant.
    Far to many MP’s and Lords presiding over not very much debating how foreign people have imposed more rules on us and how you can pretend you did it.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    It might also help if they appointed on ability rather than endless stream of token people on grounds of gender, race and religion – as if arranging flowers for TV. Above all ministers would benefit from a leader with a clear working compass and sense of direction. Not someone who believes in the green religion, HS2, pointless aircraft carriers without aircraft, token women, wind farms that cost £50,000 to produce £50 PM of electricity, who likes continued, damaging, silly & restrictive employment laws, keeps increasing 299+ taxes, runs a dreadful NHS, rats on the EU and IHT, run very poor schools, a law and order systems with few real deterrents, ever closer union with the EU, pointless wars and keeps wasting money almost everywhere you look.

    He even thinks insurance and pensions should be gender neutral in defiance of all the statistics and life expectancies. Economic lunacy as usual from this lefty say one think do the opposite dope. Has he found a greencrap, lefty, high tax, pro EU, Patten think woman to head the BBC trustees yet?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      I see the former archbishop if Canterbury George Carey has said he has changed his mind about the church’s teaching on assisted dying, well done. Keeping people alive, in pain & against their wills is surely just cruel.

      He has rather taken rather his time being now 78. I think I came to this conclusion at about 12 or 13, still it seems even the religious can come to rational conclusions eventually.

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Also female Bishops today. The Anglican church is traditionally conservative. Both moves vote winners.

      • Richard1
        Posted July 14, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

        I agree and hope Lord Falconer’s bill will go through. Anyone who needs convincing should read the estimable Chris Woodhead’s piece on the subject in last weekends Sunday Times.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          Indeed a good but sad article.

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I remember our Tony deliberately downgrading the Whips. They do not seem to have been replaced.
    I wonder how much of the Prime Minister’s time is spent on stuff that he has no need to do. I saw Angela Merkel yesterday at the World Cup pretending to be interested. Why was she there?
    I wonder too how much the Prime Minister and his team ever speak with the members of their own party informally. I get the impression that clever people are in there trying to win the election by stroking swing seats and that nobody is remotely interested in the grass roots.
    Finally, all the rubbish on the BBC last night about appointing women ministers. What an insult to women! Taken to its reductio ad absurdum, we ought to have a quota of Lesians, a quota of Chinese, a quota of Muslims, a quota of children, a quota of people in Retirement Homes and a Quota of criminals in Ministries.

    We can see out here what is really happening and, I speak for an awful lot of people, we have long ago lost interest as we are increasingly neglected in favour of politicians who care most about their careers and not very much about us.

  6. Andyvan
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    “So how could all this be changed and improved?”
    Close several departments. Defra,- Culture,Media and Sport,- Energy and Climate Change,- Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,- International Development could all go immediately since they don’t do anything that couldn’t be done better without government interference.
    Less departments mean less arguments about who runs them and saves the taxpayer vast amounts of money. Win win except for those on the gravy train of course.

    • Martyn G
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Andyvan, I agree with your principle of reducing expensive and ineffective departments but, sadly, you have hit my favourite hobby horse right on the nose!

      Please, not LESS departments but FEWER! Am a bit pedantic about that, especially as the BBC get it wrong time after time after time with announcers who clearly have little idea of grammar……

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        I think the “fewer” battle has been virtually lost. Only Waitrose still holds out with “10 items or fewer” I think. Perhaps not even them now.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        By the cringe Martyn G please don’t EVER read Shakespeare or Chaucer you’d have a heart attack.

        Language evolves, its a means of communication, as long as both sender and receiver understand the same message the fewer said the better .

        • Anonymous
          Posted July 15, 2014 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

          Libertarian – Evolving or just lazy/ignorant ?

          (it’s)

          It just so happens that schooling is in decline. So how convenient to claim that it is ‘evolutionary’. Does your choice of word mean that it is progressive ? Better ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Fewer department would be a great plan. They are indeed often just fighting with each other anyway or inconveniencing the productive. But they are indeed mainly run for the benefit of people on the gravy train, so rather unlikely to actually happen. Certainly not under Cameron types.

  7. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Come on John, you know as well as I do it is’ me, me me’. If the threat of another’s power comes too near and is not totally supportive then it is goodbye.Why give a ministerial job to someone who outshines the cabinet ministers? Why give a cabinet job to an experienced being: they may actually understand how to perform better than the present cabinet.Not wanting to get rid of , but wanting to actually use the influence or support which has been peripherally gained is good for the party ;as long as they are not too prominent.

    Of course personnel could help , but I feel then the ‘corruption’ would still be present.They are just another set of people to cook the books.I remember it having been manipulated that I should leave a particular post for promotion , only to find that the ward was to be sold off and I would be thrown out of the NHS and then struggling for years to get back in, was attacked again and again by a head of personnel who said ” I was spoiling things for them” i.e the private sector…..corruption John, again and again.

  8. Antisthenes
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The electorate should be governed by the ablest and for that to come about the first thing to do is to separate the executive from Parliament. At least that way the Prime Minister (elected separately from parliament) does not need to appoint just from the commons and the Lords and perhaps never does. Of course it depends on the calibre of the Prime Minister as to whether the best are picked and a left wing one will more often than not not do so. A side benefit would be that governments would become more accountable.

  9. Killer Heels
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    It’s a bit late to appeal to the women’s vote now.

    We are capricious creatures and if you don’t know what you’ve done wrong then we’re not going to tell you !

  10. Alan Wheatley
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Wise words, indeed.

    • Killer Heels
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Alan.

  11. Graham
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately any reshuffle won’t make the slightest difference to the hard pressed taxpayers. Waste will continue as the hidden agenda moves forward.

    How about a blog entry about the real issues JR ?

  12. alan jutson
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Your post today sounds all very sensible John.

    But.

    Someone sensible with some quality business/commercial management experience needs to be at the top to implement it all !
    Unless they of course they are prepared to listen and trust others who have that experience.

    There perhaps is your/our problem.

    Those at the top (of all main Party’s) have their own ideas about people management and business management, but alas no actual commercial/practical working experience.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    These are all worthy suggestions. Nevertheless is not the reality of Westminster politics a desire of MPs to climb up the greasy pole of power (however they define it)? That depends on building alliances, finding supporters and placing them, when possible, in places of influence to help your cause. Mr Osborne is reported (by Conservative Home) to be adept at this. No doubt it helps to have competent friends in positions that count, but it is surely at odds with the arrangements that you propose.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it Osborne who decides all these changes, at least for your party’s side of the cabinet – Cameron, as with almost everything, is just the spokesman? What about the damage which arises from having part of the cabinet decided by the Lib Dems? Most of the MPs currently touted for promotion are unimpressive (not surprising I suppose given the general performance of the whole group in the Commons) but we shall only have to endure them for about 9 months.

  15. Martyn G
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Very well put, John but to my mind whatever is being planned shuffle-wise will result in a lot of unrest in the herd because of the Prime Minister’s previous record of being a poor judge of character and ignoring sensible advice on such an issue.

  16. Posted July 14, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Why does the PM want more women in the cabinet?

    • Mark B
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Votes.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Because he is a fool, A believer in the fake enforced equality religion, does not want to employ the best people for the jobs and clearly wants to actively discriminate against able men.

      Also he idiotically thinks it will get more woman to vote for him. Most woman I know are far to sensible to be taken in by his idiotic & pathetic flower arranging.

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      why not?

  17. Iain Gill
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Similar issues exist with the political candidate selection process.

  18. Bert Young
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Dr. JR the comments you have made are all valid and highlight the advantage of experience and knowledge of the job . A knock-on effect of a Ministerial change is the delay in becoming aware of the key relationships within the Civil Service and the time it takes “to get the feet under the table”- no-one can move into a new assignment and start to be effective from day one . The oversight of the PM is the key issue ; he has to be advised on his choices and the backgrounds and capabilities of the individuals in question must be examined ; of course he cannot do this in isolation . If he simply listens to “friends” – a suggestion he has often been accused of in the past , he will make appointments who will not add to the broader sweep of knowledge needed in the Cabinet – the ego of leadership is a very misleading and dangerous thing . So , your suggestion of a monitoring role for the Whips – or , some other body of reliable and experienced individuals , who are able to provide advice on the selection and suitability of candidates , is absolutely necessary and essential . I regret you have been “overlooked” in the past particularly for the role of Chancellor – it’s not because I think George Osborne is a failure in his job , it is because the background and experience you have is ideally suited for this role ; Osborne would have been all the better for a stint in your shadow . Changes in any event so close to a forthcoming General Election will smack of “tinkering” for the sake of loyalty and votes .

  19. Peejos
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    One is lead to believe that the workload of an MP is almost unbearable: long antisocial hours away from their family, need to molify constituents, etc. ? If so then there can be no ‘spare’ time to also be a member of the cabinet; presumably ministers also have long hours etc, such a person clearly cannot fulfill both roles adequately.

    If a minister can ever understand his brief then constituency work must not just suffer, but collapse and to pretend otherwise lacks honesty. It is obvious that the number of ministers is to excessive and at present most will never ever be up to managing their department due to naivety. Forget quotas, ensure specialist skills are fostered, establish a ‘school’ for junior ministers and have by-elections to provide a constituency MP.

    Nothing like enough encouragement is given to ensure that the public contact their local councillor first to filter problems, most of which can be conducted by correspondence with the appropriate ministry on their behalf, so releasing MPs.

  20. Atlas
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Prime Ministers should be directly elected, since it they who are using this personal patronage, and so should be directly accountable to the electorate for its consequences.

  21. formula57
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    A most interesting post – and a little surprising that government seems less than sophisticated in managing its staff.

    I could not help laughing (because it is all too typical of the failure of good intentions that see people encouraged to state their aspirations) when you wrote “In my time as an MP I have only once been asked what job I would like to do. I made three suggestions. I was never told why I did not get any one of them!”

    As for “There should be a course for those who want to be Ministers which most MPs could take whilst hoping for preferment.”, I have that! Well, I possess the full box set of DVDs of “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister”. Viewing those is essential training I would think.

  22. Martin Ryder
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    It does seem rather amateurish but I doubt that it is very different in other countries; in many it is bound to be worse. But that is because we are talking about politicians, not business people or civil servants.

    The problem stems, I believe, from the fact that MPs are not chosen by the electorate because they are potential cabinet ministers or because they are representatives of the constituency but because they are the local representatives of the political party that they dislike the least.

    Where the party’s candidate is concerned the only choice that we have – unless we are one of the very tiny number of people who join political parties – is Hobson’s choice; take it or leave it. Most people just leave it!

    I believe that we should elect the government separately from the local representatives. Each political party wishing to form a government should list all the ministers (and their ministries) that it would appoint should it be elected, and provide a CV for each of them. The ministers could come from any walk of life and need not be professional politicians.

    The party should also spell out what the policies of each ministry will be; how much they will cost and where the money will come from. Obviously changes will have to be made – to both ministers and policies – as time passes but, at least, we should know where the government intends to go before signing them up.

    The votes for each potential government team should be counted centrally and the teams listed in the order of the votes cast for them. The top two potential government teams should then be voted on a second time a week after the first ballot (the French have two rounds in their presidential elections and it works for them) and the winning team forms the government. The government then occupies the front benches on the government side of the House and the losers sit on the opposition benches.

    The management of each government team would be for the parties concerned but Mr Redwood’s ideas seem ideal. Indeed a well run team that publicised its internal management policies would be more likely to win than would a disorganised rabble.

  23. John-not-Redwood
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    But cabinet appointments and re-shuffles aren’t about instigating an effective government: they’re about building and reinforcing a power-base. Hence all the speculation about how much influence No 11 has in the decisions. Is Brown/Osborne/whoever-comes-next preparing the ground for a post-election leadership bid? It has also led to the ballooning of cabinet, quasi-cabinet and sub-cabinet posts. Simple backbenchers are approaching being in a minority!

  24. ian
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    More training more truthful more referendums on spending big money more people standing who do not belong to political party and recall and politician spending more time looking after the poor in their area, they should go to see them and working two weeks a year at a local company in manufacturing and i agree with john.

  25. John S
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I suspect some of the promotions will be down to image and not ability. Esther McVey was a standing joke in the Civil Service when she was Disabilities Minister, not having a clue about figures. Yet she got promoted and looks like being promoted again.

  26. Terry
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Of course, it all makes sense. Common sense. Unfortunately that quality is now lacking in the Departments of Whitehall so it is very unlikely there is going to be much change in the status quo. I cannot understand why Mr Cameron has not and does not enlist new Ministers from the row of experienced ones sitting on the back benches.
    If he wishes to win the next election, he would much increase his chances with some real professionals behind him. The ones who are more in tune with the electorate, of course.

  27. forthurst
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    “In my time as an MP I have only once been asked what job I would like to do. I made three suggestions. I was never told why I did not get any one of them!”

    Presumably the objective was to ensure that JR didn’t get a job at which he might shine, thereby posing a threat to someone whose ascent of the slippery pole might be rather more attributable to low cunning than to formal education, experience or intellectual ability.

    The next reshuffle is to promote talent which has been up until now trapped, unconcionably long, under a glass ceiling; this may have the unintentional consequence of achieving a hope for increase in votes from the weaker sex; after all, if the purpose of government is not to ensure re-ellection even if it means importing new Britons to grace the electoral rolls, what is it for? It’s certainly not about ensuring the right people with the right ideas are making things better for the majority. In any case, each government only needs one presiding genius which in Mrs. Thatcher’s day was Keith Joseph, ‘The Mad Monk’, and with Cameron, Oliver Letwin, ‘My Mainframe Computer’ who has been in India negotiating the importation of more Indian talent, presumably, as the EU is in charge of all matters concerning international trade.

  28. Max Dunbar
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting article but will Cameron pay any attention to your intelligent ideas and depth of experience?
    You worked for one of our greatest Prime Ministers who happened to be a woman, however Cameron will probably go for quantity rather than quality in a reshuffle. The Tory Party or the Token Party?

  29. graham clack
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    If it’s ok to post a comment that isn’t off point or cynical (!) I’d just like to say this is a very sensible article and suggestion. In football, the best individual 11 players do not necessarily make the best football team – you need the right players in the right positions and who are good team players. If you think about it, how many successful businesses would operate in the way Governments do when it comes to staff appointments and how many businesses could get away with treating their staff as Governments treat their fellow party mp’s? The suggestions by John make perfect sense and would be a good basis for better government.

  30. Eddie Hill
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    And finally, end positive discrimination once and for all!

    There is absolutely no sound reason to promote people to the cabinet based on positive discrimination and/ or national demographic percentages for gender, religion, sexual preference, disability, or what have you.

    As you say, promotion to the cabinet should be based entirely on a mix of aptitude, ability, experience, merit and willingness to do the job, nothing else.

    And in fact, under sexual discrimination laws, shouldn’t promotion on the basis of gender be illegal? If you promote a woman because she is a woman, doesn’t that involve unfair discrimination against men, unless you are going to involve the Catch 22 to the effect that their under-representation in the cabinet is a consequence of sexual discrimination against women?

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      Permanent Whitehall civil servants run the show so it makes no difference in reality.

  31. Richard1
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I am sorry to see Owen Paterson is one of the ministers being briefed against ahead of this reshuffle. He seems to me to be to be one of the most sensible sounding ministers and is one of the few who has the courage openly to question the all pervasive global warming theory which is doing so much economic damage. paterson has the distinction of being one of v few ministers – I think Gove is another – against whom leftists have organized a petition for his removal (sumofus or some similar propagator of drivel). I shall think a lot worse of Cameron of this is the reason Paterson gets the boot

    • Bazman
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Gove and Ducan Smith need to be sacked for lies, fantasy and massive wateing of money in pet deluded projects with no real basis. If anyone thinks they are in any way believable for the majority of the population they are as deluded as they are.

      • Richard1
        Posted July 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Your absurd leftist denial is worthy only of contempt. Gove and Duncan Smith are attempting to liberate those who are trapped by terrible educational standards enforced by the Blob and those trapped in a cycle of welfare dependency. It is contemptible that leftists want to force peoples continued oppression by resisting these reforms.

        • Bazman
          Posted July 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          LOL! As if. Making disabled pay more rent and cutting benefits for the working poor is going to help. Gove with his deluded free school project both wasting millions, dogma and flawed ideology in both cases is going to help? I get your point, but for both of these zealots and fantasists this is not the case. You are wrong. Making the poor more poor and the uneducated less educated will not help. Money saving nonsense that costs a fortune.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 17, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

            Somehow over the last few years many people previously classified as disabled have found work and many long term unemployed have done so too.
            The numbers add up to hundreds of thousands.
            I think this is a good thing both for them and the country but I expect you find it ” unfair” Baz.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            Really care to show is some figures and their sources?

          • Edward2
            Posted July 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

            I got this from your own posts on here Baz where you have been complaining how people on disabled benefits have been assessed as being able to work and various press releases showing how many had now got jobs.
            Figures for unemployment have been falling and record numbers are in work.
            Had you not heard Baz?
            Do they keep good news out of the Guardian?

          • Bazman
            Posted July 19, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

            My point was that they have been assed by a compney that seems to think that if you have lost yor leg it will grow back. Its laughable you belive this. Unemplyment and in particular youth emplymoyment remains high. As for reading you should try it. Maybe the internet..

    • Terry
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Mr Patterson is much appreciated in the Somerset Levels for sorting out the flood problems there earlier this year. His ability was proven by his prompt actions and long term solutions to a Labour Government ‘inspired’ disaster.
      He will be sorely missed IF he goes and for sure, Dave can kiss goodbye to the local votes, next year.

    • John S
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree with you in regard to Owen Paterson. According to Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph, he has “played a blinder” in sorting out the avoidable flooding crisis in the Somerset levels caused by a bunch of newt- loving eco-loons

    • Mark B
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      I very much agree with you on this, Richard1.

      Well said.

      • Richard1
        Posted July 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, and what a pity Mr Paterson has in fact got the boot!

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Indeed Owen Patterson is one of the few sensible/rational members of the government and has brought much needed sanity over the flooding in Somerset. Alas Cameron worships at the idiotic alters of the greencrap religion, the ever bigger government religion, the fake equality religion and the ever closed union religion.

      On Gove I tend to agree with Peter Hitchens that he is rather over rated, but at least is he is on the sensible wing of the party and is at least trying to go in the right direction. The problem is he is not a scientist but an English Graduate, still better than PPE I suppose.

      Christopher Booker last Sunday in the telegraph was worth reading.

  32. Terry
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Becoming an MP must now be the only job position that requires zero qualifications. This is inherently wrong, for even the lower rated jobs of road sweeping or office cleaner normally call for some sort of previous experience. Even more problematic is when it comes to the appointment of Ministers.
    For example, what actually qualified George O. to be appointed Chancellor? (Even the Governor of the Boe at the time, is reported as stating “they are too inexperienced”). Or how about Phil H in the MoD? Or indeed, Mr Cameron and before him both G Brown and A Blair? Based on their knowledge, experience and qualifications, none of them would have been offered similar positions in Private Industry, would they?
    So why is it permitted in the Public Sector? Who would fly British Airways if it was common knowledge that some pilots were merely ex- school friends of the management and were not necessarily fit for purpose?
    Some may see this as an extreme example but to those I would say, just think back to the Iraq War and realise my point.
    How many can die in a plane crash? How many died there because the leader of our Nation, at the time, was not suitably qualifed to make such a decision? There is the prime example of OUR problem.

    And it’s not only Parliament. The whole of the Public Sector requires a serious shake up to meet the requirements of the Nation’s wealth generating Private Sector and the aspirations of ourselves, the private citizens of this country. Just who has got the guts for such a dramatic change in Government and make Britain, great, again?

  33. Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    I want to see the most competent people available to be appointed to ministerial and other posts, regardless of their sex, race, religion or any other considerations.
    The trouble is, in my view, we don’t have the most competent Tory available as Prime Minister, so what hope do we have?

  34. Shieldsman
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    In a recent blog (A rotten way to run a country) Douglas Carswell questions the qualifications and ability of many MP’s to fullfil Ministerial posts. “After reading the same sort of degrees at similar Oxbridge colleges, many become MPs having worked in the offices of MPs. Selected for a safe seat, they then sit on the front bench – and prepare to govern us.”

    Is reading philosophy politics and economics (PPE) at Oxford University the all encompassing qualifying passport for greater things? Arts and Social Science degrees and in the past a union card qualify a back-bencher. Mr Redwood appears to be suggesting on the job training for junior Ministers.

    Reshuffles only go to prove that a Minister needs to know nothing about his department. His Permanent Under-secretary of State and staff run the department, brief him and write his speeches.

    formula57 has offered you the full set of ‘Yes Prime Minister’. I still have a laugh every time I see it, and I ask myself can it be true. In retirement I watch the proceedings of the select committees and the ‘Sir Humphrey’s’ answering questions, which despite speaking at length they often fail to do.

    Digressing: Yesterday I read the interview with Colin Smith Rolls-Royce’s director of engineering and technology. A Company that I much admire, with technically advanced products, its fine apprentice, graduate and internship programmes He is proud at the breadth of engineering prowess joining him at the boardroom table, joking that the finance director – Mark Morris was on the firm’s engineering graduate scheme “before going to the dark side”.

    In quite a few engineering and manufacturing companies the CEO’s came via the accounts route, resulting in many of them struggling or being taken over. Conversely, in companies like Honda and Toyota the top tier of management come from the engineering department, resulting in world leading technology and reliability. Suzuki and Yamaha two-stroke motor cycles benefitted from gas expansion technology pioneered at Queens University, Belfast.

    Cameron, Osborne and Clegg like to be seen in successful factories, but clueless British political involvement in the guise of the DECC is holding back industry. The high cost of energy has meant the demise of aluminium smelting and cut-backs in steel production resulting in job losses.

  35. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Entirely sensible proposals that would lead to better governance. Unfortunately these ideas will all be alien to No.10. The only criteria for selection is having a face that fits theyre narrow minded criteria based on style over substance.

    Selection should be on merit not having the right sort of genitals or a willingness to be David Cameron’s and the whip’s office lapdog.
    For this reason, John Redwood is most unlikely to be appointed.

  36. julian
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I take many of your points but the last thing the government needs is an HR dept!
    We have enough political correctness in the public sector without them pitching in with ‘equality awareness ‘ forums, courses on 360 performance appraisal benchmarking, fact finding best practice tours to exotic locations and more consultants in navy suits.

  37. Steve Cox
    Posted July 15, 2014 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    The single most important factor in a successful (or hopeless) reshuffle is the ability of the PM to form a sound judgement of the characters and abilities of the people he is promoting or demoting. Mr Cameron, unfortunately for the nation, has shown us over and over during his term as PM that he is very poor in this respect, no matter how much he apologises over Andy Coulson or tries to kiss and make up with Andrew Mitchell. Looking at his latest appointments I have a feeling that nothing much has changed in this respect. At least he’s got rid of the ancient and pointless Eurodinosaur Ken Clarke, but who put him in government as Justice Minister in the first place, and when he made a mess of that job refused to sack him but made him a ‘minister without portfolio’ instead? Talk about pointless, and talk about poor judgement! Mr Hague stepping down as FS is the big surprise, and while many commentators predicted something like this after watching him hobnobbing with Brangelina while ISIS took over half of Iraq, it still has the smell of rodents deserting a sinking ship to me. This reshuffle seems more like a panic attack, and it appears evident that neither Mr Hague nor Mr Cameron have much faith that their party will win the election next May.

  38. mick
    Posted July 15, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Deck chairs and Titanic spring to mined :)

  39. Martin
    Posted July 15, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Do you think its a good idea to move the top jobs in government around every few years?

    Might this stop top cabinet ministers becoming too confident and avoid the country falling into a hole.

  40. Iain Gill
    Posted July 15, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I see Gove is no longer education secretary… absolutely crazy decision.
    Cameron has lost the plot, if he ever had it.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Agree Iain, one of the most effective Ministers ever, he had more support from parents than many think nor did they have a chance to speak up for him, preferring only to show the education union side of the debate on tv.

      What a poisoned chalice for the woman taking over from him, they’re already having a personal go at her for not voting for gay marriage, so she’s going to get slaughtered from our lovely left about what a bad influence she will be on children, as of course they are so good for our children spinning their own side of any debate.

      As for women being promoted, why not? They may just surprise, indeed I hope they do, this is their chance to shine and they should do what they are strong at in business with the media, public relations and political peace keeping.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted July 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      and IDS has not been sacked? what is he scapegoat in chief now?

  41. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted July 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Why is Gideon Osborne a fit and proper person to be chancellor of the exchequer.
    He studied history at University so clearly he doesn’t have a particular aptitude for folding towels.

    He then spent some time as a data entry clerk and a period at Selfridges as a general dogsbody folding towels. We all have to start somewhere but ho hum…

    After a brief and entirely unremarkable stint as a journalist he took a job as a research work at Conservative HQ.

    This man has extremely patchy real world experience and has never really had a proper job. We should all be very afraid – why isn’t Redwood in the treasury??? Osborne has made too many cock ups to mention…

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted July 15, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Correction *should read aptitude for numbers, figures, balance sheets etc

  42. Man of Kent
    Posted July 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh what a let down : Owen Paterson and Michael Gove both going.

    Two of the most effective Ministers are booted out .

    I know MG will be Chief Whip ,but DC is sacking an excellent Leader and making him
    Regimental Sergeant Major this is a demotion.

    Can Cameron not see that in MG’s case this will be seen as a win for the NUT and all the ‘educationalists’ who are more interested in the gravy train for teachers and bureaucrats than better results for children ?

    Similarly for OP ; Cameron has pulled the rug to appease his father in law ,Prince Charles
    [who called all those who question the green crap 'headless chickens] plus many others make money from wind subsidies paid for by us .
    (Some people ed), forever on the make, will be delighted not forgetting Greenpeace ,the Environment Agency, WWF
    and the countless institutions -Met Office , Univ of E Anglia ,BBC ,DFID ,DECC,- who depend on Government subsidy or provide cover to Government to push up taxes and strive for the EU and World Government.

    They will be cheering at OP’s demise just as the BBC saw off Professor Bellamy who dared challenge the tenets of faith of the Green Religion

    Cameron has lost it for me .
    I am less likely to vote Conservative than DC is ‘to eliminate the deficit by 2015′ or hold an EU referendum.

    Labour – what’s the difference ?

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 15, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see a huge amount of policy difference emerging from the actual reshuffle, which was largely presentational.

    There is potentially one change for the better. We now have a Foreign Secretary who is on record as saying that he would vote OUT if an EU referendum were to be held on the basis of the current Treaties. Let us hope that Philip Hammond doesn’t go native, and that he will have the support of the Prime Minister if he purges the FO of its pro EU bias.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page