Are reshuffles a good idea?

Good management in companies works hard on succession planning, mentoring, supporting people  in jobs, offering training, and talking to employees about their career development. There are regular appraisals which provide a chance for senior managers to explain again what they are looking for and for employees to comment on the workplace, support and direction. If an employee does need removing from post it should not come as a surprise, as it will follow a process of warnings, reviews and attempts to sort out the issues that worry the management.

Governments of all persuasions have handled Ministerial jobs rather differently.  Ministers may not have not been told whether they are doing well or badly. They have often not been offered support, training, guidance or  mentoring on how to carry out difficult and complex roles. When it comes to reshuffle time quite a lot of Ministers stay near a  phone with no idea of whether they are likely to be left where they are, promoted, moved sideways or fired.

There is plenty of talent in the Commons, and plenty of get up and go by individual MPs who want to make a contribution or take a special interest in a cause, department or area of work. Somehow governments need to find a better system of mapping the talent, understanding the knowledge and enthusiasms of those who are elected, and deploying it in the right places within government and the wider public space. Of course the high degree of accountability and public engagement required of a Minister makes it a bit different from senior  management positions in many businesses, but there are still things to learn from the higher professional standards now being expected of those in the better companies. Meanwhile the private sector can learn from the public sector more about the need to listen carefully and respond well to the public who are the ultimate paymasters and judges of both sectors.

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  1. Duncan
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Surely the entire aim of a reshuffle is not the promotion of talent but the promotion of those whose political stance match those of the incumbent PM?

    Moreover, reshuffles also allow the incumbent PM the opportunity to remove or push to a distance all political threats or certainly perceived threats

    Look at the current liberal left PM. She’s an ardent Europhile and Keynesian and therefore promotes an ardent Europhile as her Chancellor.

    May’s also an ardent liberal left advocate and therefore promotes another one of her kind to the post of Home Secretary

    Chancellor and Home Secretary are probably the two most important roles in British politics. It is therefore no surprise that this PM has chosen allies to fill them

    This reshuffle was an embarrassment to behold. We have a weak PM. She’s without principle, convictions and ideas about which direction this nation should travel.

    When I look into her eyes I see nothing. When I looked into the eyes of Thatcher I saw clarity, determination and conviction. She knew exactly what was required and understood the enemy.

    This PM doesn’t like a scrap, she’s terrified of her own shadow and that spells disaster

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always held that when Mrs May says ‘Brexit means Brexit’ it is the cry of someone suffering a nightmare.

  2. PaulW
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Yeah..well the real government is the civil service..ministers are only in situ to rubber stamp decisons made by the PM and the inner cabinet..all following advice and instructions from the inner circle ‘think tanks’ don’t think we believe that untested ministers can go off and carry out policy changes or even ministerial changes of any kind without the nod from the central what’s that you were saying about political vs industrial or political vs singular or even political vs collective..its all the same and because of nepotism and depotism and plain old fashioned corruption and patronage it all ends up the same..and the people pay

    • Hope
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      May’s latest contribution is helping the slow death of your party. Your membership numbers are plummeting and will decline further with this utterly useless token woman in charge. Her record was appalling as HS and had no right based on merit to be PM. In her own light she thinks equally useless people should be in cabinet; with her weird view of cultural Marxism you party will not last. She has learnt nothing from elections over the last year around the world. Many people like me left when it was clear there is no difference between Labour and Conservative. One slightly more left than the other since Corbyn arrived. Every time they move left she lamely follows thinking it is modern. I am surprised she has not enobled Miliband after copying and building on his energy policy. Free market, my foot. After all,your leadership puts former socialist MPs in charge of quangos instead of true Tories. What message does that give?

      • Hope
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Based on May’s capitulation on phase one of EU talks, no deal is now the best option. Where is the minister among the the vast amount of appointments? With all the quangos why so many ministerial posts? Giventhe savings to provide doctors and nurses in the NHS.

        Apparently Barnier and Merkel believe U.K. Waters will continue to be shared with EU on existing basis. Will the navy be recalled from immigrant ferry service to patrol our island?

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

          Dear Hope–There can be few greater certainties than that our weak-kneed Government will fall for the pitch that we want to carry on as we are in the EU Market so they should be able to stay as they are in our Fisheries. This alone should be enough for us to quit immediately. My opinion of Mrs May cannot sink any further. It’s embarrassing.

          • Hope
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            Nothing has explained why the U.K. Should give away vast sums of taxpayers’ money to talk about trade, she is keeping it a secret. Otho g explained why a foreign body should have jurisdiction over citizens in this country and nothing to explain why regulatory alignment applies to all the U.K. For less than half a percent of GDP to Ireland. Even the disnonest Vicky Price was correct in saying May completely capitulated. These were her alleged red lines. What message does this send out to other countries who might want o trade wi the U.K.! She is pathetic.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      I agree with PaulW.

      I believe the swapping and changing just reminds people how ineffectual the system of government ministers is, no-one could possibly take over such a big department efficiently without prior training in that ministry. Just how much time in each department did the current Minister spend before their promotion to the top role?

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Are reshuffles a good idea? Well perhaps not but sometimes they are needed. Certainly not where the aim is just to get more women and minorities into government regardless of merit and PC virtue signal – as seems to have been May’s typically foolish agenda.

    If they put people in charge who knew something about the area/department they are the minister of it might help. Some engineers, good managers and scientists are badly needed to replace the self publicists, lawyers and PPE types.

    Most Ministers seem to think their job is to be an actor reading out the lines. Lines essentially written by their departments for the benefit of senior departmental staff. Then to go around pretending to change the bed sheets or serve lunch at the NHS or wearing high viz jackets and safety hats at some pathetic factor photo op. No, their job is to set a sensible agenda and make sure the department delivers something of value to the taxpayer and is shut down where it is not doing (which is so often the case).

    Jeremy Hunt, for example, (another Oxford PPE) is good at saying sorry for the appalling NHS and doing these photo ops, but he offers no sensible solutions at all. Despite the solution for the NHS being blindingly obvious. He seem to have no interest in making the NHS deliver what the public want and need or giving the public any freedom to choose.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      Interestingly in 2005 Jeremy Hunt was a co-author of a policy pamphlet Direct Democracy: An Agenda For A New Model Party which included statements supporting denationalising the NHS and suggested replacing it with “universal insurance”.

      A great shame he has done no such thing and still leaves most people with the “like it or lump it” NHS, the endless delays, second rate service & rationing . We have your money already mate so you probably cannot afford any alternative. If you do you will have to pay three times anyway one for the NHS, then income tax and NI on your earnings for the insurance premium then 12% IPT on top!

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    May launches war on waste says the Metro. Well she could start by firing the half of the state sector that does so little of value, but no it seems she will just introduce another new tax of your paper coffee cup and similar and do a bit of pathetic virtue signalling.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      I think that the people who need to be fired, and who do ‘so little of value’ are the Politicians!!

    • Andy
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      And herein lies the problem. Accusing millions of public sector workers of doing ‘so little of value’ shows an intense ignorance.

      Those who do ‘so little of value’ treat you when you get sick. They protect you. They teach you children. They fix your roads. They empty your bins. They strive, everyday, to make the world a tiny bit better despite the continued efforts of those of you determined to make it worse.

      Incidentally, I’ve noticed a huge correlation between those most likely to complain about paying for public services and those who complain about public services when they go wrong. This is a public service message to all those who have had an NHS operation cancelled recently, who also whine about their taxes.

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Fix Your Roads!? Where do you live? they don’t around here.
        Empty your bins, more and more often now we have to make trips to the tip ourselves because of roadside collections once per fortnight when we’re on holiday or over Xmas, New Year, Easter and other Bank Holidays.
        I’m not one of the people who constantly berate all public sector workers but please don’t make out they’re all perfect and everything is being run efficiently when it blatantly isn’t. What other industry, business or service would survive if they just told all the customers we’re not providing the service for a month?

      • libertarian
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink


        I know you’re not very bright but let me just put you straight here as you seem a little bit ignorant

        The roads are NOT fixed by public sector workers, the bins are NOT emptied by public sector workers, your local GP is NOT a public sector worker.

        Wow a correlation between paying for a service and complaining when its not delivered…. who’d a thought it.

        Andy go away and do some in-depth analysis and let us know if theres a correlation between being the Pope and Catholicism.

        • Miss Brandreth-Jones
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          libertarian , it depends on how you view public service. Local councils often contract out. the NHS often contract out. These are public services and the money is not transferred from private hands to the public sector.Perhaps people are not on your wave length , but there isn’t any need to be rude Your semantics will not change the reality of where the initial funds were derived from.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        It is often not the front line workers who are really to blame. But the government spends circa 45% of GDP it was nearly 50%. Yet in terms of value for money they are appalling. Much of what they do actually causes positive harm. Things like aircraft carriers without aircraft, HS2, Hinkley C, the Millennium dome, the ERM …. are just sick a joke.

        Read the blunders of government book and it is just as appalling if not worse now. The NHS is a sick joke that can never work as currently financed and structured.

      • Peter D Gardner
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but why must they be employed by the state?

  5. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Well Mrs May has left you out of the cabinet John and in my opinion that is her biggest mistake. She should have replaced Hammond with yourself. Stop promoting women Justin gender grounds and start getting in people who are knowledgeable in that particular field. We need more MPs with a positive vision of what this country could achieve after Brexit. Bring in people with realistic views and an understanding of our energy needs. Mays choice of ministers leaves a lot to be desired. Too lefty, wishy washy and not true Conservatism which is what many of us are crying out for. There is a big gap in politics that needs filling.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Along the same thought lines; perhaps our kind host could post a link, or better give a short summary, of each cabinet member’s qualifications/experience achieved before becoming an MP. simple stuff: degree, professional qualification, years in a what real job (s). I’m sure we’d all feel a lot more comfortable….

      • Diogenes
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Can’t you be bothered to do your own research? Between Wikipedia,, LinkedIn and other similar platforms this should not be too difficult.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      “Stale, pale, male” is the only racial insult allowed in Britain. Any other would lead to prosecution.

      Our sons have little to look forward to if they are excellent. They will be precluded from top roles even if they are the very best.

      My advice is to move to a country that does respect their abilities.

    • Tom
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Indeed, positive discrimination for some is serious & active discrimination against others and results in far worse people in senior jobs. Then the whole country suffers from this absurd agenda by having incompetents in charge.

      Even a new touchy. feely snowflake recruitment strategy for the army I see. PC lunacy is everywhere with lefty, wet T May at the helm.

      Surely we can have someone with some understanding of science & energy in charge of energy? A climate realist, Peter Lilley perhaps? Nigel Lawson is a bit too old.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Is it worth John’s life, passed comments and old footage getting dragged through the mud by the left and their media supporters and their Twitterati? To be honest it sickens me, it feels like we’re living in Salem at the moment.

      If I were May I’d appoint that chap that writes on education for ConHome to replace Toby, John Bald if he’d want to take up the poisoned chalice. The left does not own the NHS, the left does not own Education – how has this feeling they do been allowed to ferment, where the people on the payroll dictate what the purchasers can have?

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        Yes John Bald is a good guy. And is allowed to stray into saying things that other people with mainstream majority views (out in the real world) get banned and deleted for saying in the ConHome comments section.

        Con Home is a strange site. Demanding anyone who contributes has a degree unless they are the person who happens to own the site. Ruthlessly deleting and rubbishing what the mainstream majority think (like pro Brexit before the referendum, or anyone who pointed out that Trump was likely to win), showing they have little grasp on reality and are firmly in the bubble.

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          I stopped commenting when Tim left a while ago it’s not the same site I agree.

      • Robert Christopher
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        The best managers don’t run their departments: instead, they create the environment that allows their subordinates to run the department, and ensure that they are competent, in the basics at least.

        That is something that the current PM has not a clue and why she looks as bad as she does.

        On a ‘not very off topic’ comment – I see that, in discussions to create a coalition government, Germany is close to abandoning its carbon emissions targets for 2020 (but not 2030 🙂 ). If only we could abandon the 2008 CCA …. we would have less wealth being destroyed, which would help all round!

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          “The best managers don’t run their departments” to some degree I agree, however, they do need to understand all the workings, all their department employees tasks and responsibilities and how long it should take to complete all of the functions and ensure people aren’t fulfilling admin requirements for no purpose just to be present and look busy. Things can be streamlined and people utilised more effectively if the Manager has a full knowledge of their brief.

        • Miss Brandreth-Jones
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          The problem today is they are not subordinates . The posts have been created for them and the management are not experienced or have greater insight . Management in the NHS are actually paid less than clinical staff, because of lack of true inside knowledge. Cases are made for more funds in different departments and management read the appropriate literature which may be a good piece of academic work but not represent reality . There again a medical degree or a Nursing degree may not understand the appropriate types of persuasive language that those with a literature degree may hold.
          There are no such employees as subordinated though . This is not the army , all have different roles which overlap and all are accountable.
          Some managers perpetuate the notion that if they have 10 staff working with them then they have more responsibility than clinicians who have the responsibility of thousands of patients.

      • Helen Smith
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        I doubt very much if John has ever tweeted anything untoward!

    • agricola
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Though not on this subject, the only person I have seen expounding common sense in the last couple of weeks is Nigel Farage. The forgotten Knight, by the corrupt system of British political patronage, who actually tells it as it is. One of the few who is not a prisoner of PC. One of only two I can think of for whom you are crying out.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        yes its not good is it

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink


        Digby Jones was also good yesterday.

        Shame so many talented people are simply ignored by Government.

        • agricola
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          Talented people all too often challenge the status quo, and among the grey and uninspiring are not considered a safe pair of hands.

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        Farage? The individual who criticised Obama for “interfering in another country’s affairs”, yet is now doing exactly the same in Ireland?

        • rose
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          Farage is an MEP, the Leader of his group, and Southern Ireland is in the EU. Rather a different position from Obama. Look how many times the EU extremists have gone over there, and to Northern Ireland too. The Irish need another point of view.

          • Blue and Gold
            Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

            Correction! Please have the decency to say the Republic of Ireland. Is it any wonder that the Irish get fed up with the ignorance of the English? (and note I say English).

          • rose
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

            It is perfectly decent to say Northern and Southern Ireland. Would you react in this rude way to North and South Korea, to East and West Germany, to North and South Vietnam? People are allowed to pay attention to geography as well as politics. I do note you say English. I am Scottish, with some Irish. Are you a bigot?

    • Helen Smith
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      I would have loved to see John in government, not to do do smacks of ageism! I also only want to see women and ethnic minorities promoted on the basis of ability.

  6. Mark B
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    It is a club, within a club, within a club, within a club. And it is by invitation only that one may be able to join. No special talent, skill or qualification, unlike the Civil Service and most of the private sector, is required. Just need to know the right people. 😉

    It is high time that we look at the way in which we should be governed.

    I believe that we would be better served if the Executive was separated from the Legislator. That would mean that the Executive would no longer be able to be guaranteed votes via Ministerial appointments, and the Legislator can be free to vote how they wish because they will not be either pressured by the Whips or any damage to their careers. We will also be able to get the best people for the jobs.

  7. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Hadn’t noticed the high degree of accountability or public engagement.
    Accountability has to be more than standing in a blue rosette every 5years next to a guy who belongs to a party which would destroy the country and another who is determinedly anti democratic.
    In a job interview this would be a no-hire situation. Even if you’re ok your choice of friends is suspect.

  8. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    When the government tells the press that they are specifically firing old white men I think there’s not much point having a formal performance appraisal system because there’s no way those ministers could have “improved”. .

  9. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Received an email this morning informing me that Parliament will debate the petition “Leave the EU immediately” on January 22nd. I consider that to be a far more significant event than Mrs May’s cosmetic reshuffle.

    I hope you will speak during that debate John.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Theresa May said the reshuffle meant ‘the government looks more like the country it serves’.

    What a bonkers approach, what sort of dope would care about that? I just want the best people doing the job and actually acting in the interests of the public for a change.

    Would she want aircraft or bridges to be designed by a team selected on gender, race, religion and disability quota levels …. or would she want it done by the best competent engineers available?

    What next a quota for ministers or MPs who are under the age of 5 or over the age of 90 or a quota for each of the various bizarre & mad religions & belief systems? A fair representation of people with very low IQs or with serious mental health issues in the house too perhaps? Sure, let get the HoC to look more like the country it “serves” – what a great plan! Is this May’s idea of vision?

  11. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I think that likening cabinet appointments to senior industrial roles is misleading.

    Cabinet ministers are placed to implement policy decisions leaving senior civil servants to make the remaining decisions on running the country (or incorporating EU dictats) while briefing the minister. It is a completely different skillset.

    When decisions on senior roles are influenced by factionalism rather than talent this is even more apparent.

    For Prime Minister May to have any authority she should have put her own allies in the senior roles.

    • sm
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      TM ‘should have put her own allies in senior roles’, erm, Damien Green, Seb Coe (Hague), the ex-newspaper editor (Cameron)….that also doesn’t always work.

      Otherwise I agree with your post.

  12. MickN
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Looking at the list of appointments in the two day anti climax that was the reshuffle it seems that only your good self , Jacob and Bill Cash failed to get a position of some sort.
    Rather like the “strong and stable” mantra at the last GE, there is more than a whiff of the Emperors new clothes about this. The people can see this even if he Conservative hierarchy is in denial. Looks like more of the same and a missed opportunity. Mrs May looks weaker as every day passes.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Based on recent precedents (bungled manifesto, bungled conference speech) we should not be surprised at a bungled reshuffle. Nor should we be surprised if or when the Brexit negotiations are bungled too with Mrs May in charge or for that matter other bungled decisions.

  14. Richard1
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty depressing looking at this from the outside as a Conservative supporter. The reshuffle was shambolic. Medicorities have been promoted and many first class, articulate Conservatives have been left on the back benches or in junior roles. That’s a sign of lack of confidence and imagination by Mrs May. I suppose we just have to rely on Labour being so terrible and unelectable come the election that people will vote Conservative due to lack of choice.

    I am reading the journalist Tim Shipman’s latest book last year in politics. Of course as an outsider you can’t know how much is true, but if even half of it is, I’m afraid it shows Mrs May to be absolutely out of her depth and unsuited to her position. I guess she has to be left there for the moment due to the lack of any credible alternative!

  15. mike fowle
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I recall in Yes Minister, when Hacker was getting on top of his brief as a shadow, I think it was Sir Humphrey suggested that he’d been in the same position too long and was getting a bit stale. So he didn’t get the same role as a Minister. Eurosceptics seem to be regularly omitted from government, apart from your own valuable self, there’s Own Paterson and others.

  16. David Murfin
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    For examples of good managers in the days when Britain was great, look at Sir William White at the Admiralty, and George Jackson Churchward of the Great Western Railway.
    Both served apprenticeships. Both knew their technical subjects inside out and backwards. Both could deal well with colleagues and employees. Both set the pattern for their responsibilities for decades. Both were concerned to train and educate others.

    • agricola
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Pretty much my experience of Japanese industrial management. Years of hands on experience put them in the enviable position of knowing of what they spoke.

  17. Original Richard
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I think it is the Civil Service, who have far too much power, who are in need of a reshuffle.

    Plus of course the HoL where opinions and allegiances bear insufficient relation to how the country votes and consequently fails any democracy test.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Also many of the judges who are making so many absurd judgements and rewriting the laws. Judges who are, almost to a person, pro EU and against any deportation of criminals – even serious criminals who have lied to get into and stay in the country.

    • formula57
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      “I think it is the Civil Service, who have far too much power, who are in need of a reshuffle.”

      “Yes Minister” (as so often) has been there before with Bernard Woolley’s frostily received suggestion to Sir Humphrey and Sir Arnold that perhaps ministers should stay in post whilst permanent secretaries are reshuffled. The knights thought otherwise, preferring to start afresh with a new minister who could be fed the same obstructions as his predecessor.

    • Mitchel
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      The modern Civil Service,in it’s higher echelons,is the bureaucratic Party State that the Soviet Union very quickly became under Stalin’s influence and which Lenin in his final epistle warned against as the workers state slipped from socialist aspiration to state capitalism:

      “We must reduce our state apparatus to the utmost degree of economy.We must banish from it all traces of extravagance of which so much has been left over tsarist Russia,from it’s bureaucratic,capitalist state machine”(Better Fewer but Better,March,1923).

      “Better Fewer but Better” is at least one Leninist motto that I’m sure most readers here will agree with!

  18. Nig l
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Are they a good idea, not when they are handled as inefficiently as this one and only highlighted that the real reshuffle should have been the one person that made the mess. It also spotlights the dearth of real talent and that fact that average performers can stay in post for ‘political’ reasons despite poor achievement.

    What they also show is that people with no budgetary, people and project management etc experience get massive portfolios putting them totally in the hands of their civil servants, no wonder so little changes and so many are ineffective. Jacqui Smith was honest enough to say that the job was too big for her. How many other jobs are too big for people who are not honest enough to admit it, merely hanging on the greasy pole of promotion hoping for advancement before being found out?

    As for the high degree of accountability, nonsense, we see at all levels, behaviour that would mean gross dismissal and the sack in the private sector, defended, spun etc to keep ‘political’ friends, and certainly at executive level in PLCs underperformance is quickly dealt with.

    Private sector learning from the Public. Maybe 10%. Shame the 90% the other way is incapable of being absorbed.

  19. Anonymous
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t seem to make any difference.

    The Left ALWAYS win in the end.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      The left certainly have in the Tories.

  20. Jonp
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Well the wrong people are being my mind DD, Fox and Boris should all be dropped for being dismal failures at what they are supposed to be doing..add to that Gove who is probably the biggest bluffer of the lot and then we might get to see real change at the top..of course Mrs May unfortunately is not is a position to deliver the changes necessary so we will stumble crisis to the next..all the while underminding our chances for having a successful outcome in our dealings with our neighbours and countries far away post brexit because we look so inept and clueless.

    • Original Richard
      Posted January 11, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Mrs. May appears weak and inept because she is an EU supporter trying not to implement the country’s decision to leave the EU.

      She is desperately trying to negotiate a “deal” which looks as much like remaining in the EU as possible and not looking to pursue any of the advantages that will accrue from leaving the EU.

      The problem for Mrs. May and the UK is that the EU are using Mrs. May’s EU supporting stance to push for a punishment “deal” either to take full advantage of the situation or in the hope that the proposed deal will be so bad that the UK votes to return to the EU on even worse terms than we had before.

  21. alan jutson
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Have never understood why those who have been successful in a profession or business in a certain sphere, are not utilised rather more sensibly for the experience they have gained.

    Doctors/Nurses in the Health Service, ex Servicemen in Defence, Businesspeople in Trade, Teachers in Education, Barristers/Solicitors in Legal Departments etc, etc.

    Likewise if you have never held a management position in your working life before, to then be put in charge of Management of a large Department with a huge Budget, seems rather
    I guess this is where the Civil service are supposed to step in, to ease the day-day running of such, providing of course they are given a sensible brief by who is in charge.

    For a Prime Minister to just swap people around with short term stays in any position is simply daft as they never fully get to grips with anything.

    It goes without saying that all Ministers should be competent and have some commercial experience, other than as a simple customer.

    No surprise that so many fail in the task, and why they need so many “so called experts” to guide them.

  22. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    So no minister for NoDeal.. Yet another indication that May intends to sell us out Brexitino.
    Merkel is against a bespoke deal as it might help Britain to thrive.
    If we have to walk away it will be a gross dereliction on the part of government.
    The reshuffle is just a distraction from the problems we face.

  23. Newmania
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Good management in companies works hard on succession planning, mentoring, supporting people in jobs, offering training, and talking to employees about their career development.

    Thanks John we all enjoyed that , thats exactly what is it is like in the private sector and hugely encouraging to see how well you understand it ……hhmmmmph

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      laughs… I think “Good” is the operative word, not much of it about

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Also the state sector rarely appoint a PPE graduate, humanities, theology graduate or lawyer to do a serious engineering or science related job like running the UK’s energy policy.

      Indeed I would generally avoid these types as a matter of principal. Even if they were one legged, females from a minority group.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        I meant “private sector” not state.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      JR was describing what went on in companies that had good management. 🙂

      When you hear, Company X has some really good managers, do wonder whether they part of the 90%, or the 10% 🙂

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Good to see that Mr Hammond acknowledges that a bad Brexit for London will cause contagion for the global economy.

      If we honour the referendum result the EU should play nice with us then.

      (It stands to reason if they were worried about a few PIIGS, they should be terrified of this.)

      • acorn
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        No it won’t. The EU is the currency issuer for the EURO, just as the UK is the currency issuer for the Pound Sterling. Neither are going to run out of their own currency. The Euro is six times larger in global issuance than Sterling; alas, still less than half of the US Dollar.

        The EU has not promoted the Euro as an international trade currency; it didn’t need to while London was inside the EU and doing the job for the EU and the Euro (with profits). The ECB has built mechanisms for EU “in-house” Euro international payment clearing and settlement over the last decade. It planned to do this long before Brexit.

        The consensus is that nine tenths of what the City of London does, is pure casino type gambling; producing no socio-economic value for the UK citizenry, apart from the nominal taxes it condescends to pay, to make it look good with the muppets.

        PS. Would you like me to tell you what it was like Skiing at minus 30 degrees Celsius in a Canadian “polar vortex”? 😉

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          “The consensus is that nine tenths of what the City of London does, is pure casino type gambling; producing no socio-economic value for the UK citizenry, apart from the nominal taxes it condescends to pay, to make it look good with the muppets.”

          You mean London Remain voters are overstating their importance to the rest of us ?

          • acorn
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

            Basically yes. Alas, that if you worked in or serviced the world’s biggest casino, you wouldn’t want anything to threaten your income.

          • Anonymous
            Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

            Now I’m definitely sure my vote for Brexit was the right choice !

  24. rick hamilton
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Private business would never appoint anyone to head up a big department unless they had proven ability, knowledge of the subject and relevant professional qualifications. In a highly complex world, with technology advancing rapidly, politicians still seem to think the ‘gifted amateur’ can make satisfactory decisions on any subject. Ministers with arts degrees pontificating about climate change. People with zero financial training put in charge of the national budget.

    This could mean that it doesn’t matter how ignorant of the subject at hand the minister is, because they are all geniuses who understand everything at first sight. Or it could mean it doesn’t matter how ignorant they are because they don’t make the decisions anyway.

    No wonder the UK is such a badly managed country.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Re “Private business would never appoint anyone to head up a big department unless they had proven ability, knowledge of the subject and relevant professional qualifications.” I beg to differ they do it all the time, I could give you a long list.

  25. BlakeS
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Today it is reported in the Telegraph that the Germans are not going to allow any kind of a bespoke deal for after brexit..but just why are we looking for any kind of deal..we voted to leave and that is what we should do instead of being involved with this kind of back and forwards tittle tattle..itS Mrs May herself who should be reshuffled but none of them tory types in tje cabinet have the seems

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Then maybe we should publicly remind the Germans of some relevant EU treaty provisions which they freely accepted and solemnly ratified:

      “Apart from the general Article 8 TEU on the EU’s neighbourhood policy … here is a list … of other relevant provisions in the EU treaties … ”

      Such as Article 206 TFEU:

      “… the Union shall contribute … to the harmonious development of world trade, the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade and on foreign direct investment, and the lowering of customs and other barriers.”


      “the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade”,


      “the stupid, spiteful and completely unnecessary reintroduction of restrictions on international trade which have long ago been abolished.”

      And then ask whether the word of their government is ever worth anything, or they are just a bunch of totally untrustworthy hypocrites.

      But of course we would never be so beastly to the Germans., would we.

    • James neill
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Its nearly a hundred years ago since Lloyd George shafted the germans at the talks leading up to the treaty of guess is they havn’t forgotton

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        A lot of Germans have moved to London in the last few years, they seem to like it here.

      • Peter D Gardner
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        They weren’t shafted. Presumably you refer to reparations. They were asked to pay more than they themselves estimated would be the case if they were the victors, but only half up front. The Allied demand was based on a detailed summation of the actual material costs of the war but was very much less than the actual cost. There was no punitive element at all. Germany actually paid very much less than was demanded, $4.5 billion. This was less even than the $6 billion JM Keynes said she could reasonably afford in his political polemic entitled ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace’, published in December 1919. The real reparations scandal was Germany’s imposition of reparations on Russia to the tune of 6bn Gold Marks.
        But Germany did set up a propaganda unit – the war guilt section in the Foreign office – to propagate the myth of unfair and vindictive reparations and immediately started re-arming with help from Russia (secret weapons manufacture and proving grounds, including tanks, aircraft and poison gas), Sweden and other neutral countries. The myth is still very much alive.
        In cabarets in Berlin they told jokes about the worker who smuggled parts out of a baby carriage factory for his new child only to find that each time he tried to put them all together he got a machine-gun.

  26. Old Albion
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    You should have been given the job of Minister for Brexit.

  27. Chris S
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Everything is now about political correctness, and the first task of a PM in assembling a cabinet now seems to be getting a balance of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation just about acceptable to the liberal/leftie media and the chattering classes. The concept of choosing the best person for the role, any role, is long gone.

    We see it everywhere we look, even the BAFTA nominations are carefully scrutinised for all of these things. The concept of choosing the best film, actor, director, or technician has been lost.

    It’s deeply depressing.

    PS. I would second Fedupsoutherner’s post.
    Of course our host has been left out of the Cabinet. The next Chancellor can’t possibly be another white, middle aged man. It will almost certainly have to be a woman.

  28. jerry
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Reshuffles are good. Tea, biscuits & musical chairs is not. Especially after the PM, in a keystone interview the day before, hyped the impending reshuffle as being necessary because she had listened – presumably a reference to the GE result. Yet how many fresh faces, those that are new or promoted mostly owe resignations not sackings for their opportunity. Tuesdays DT headline was spot on.

    I won’t be suggesting any names but up to 50% of the cabinet should be on the back benches by mow, or at least their wings clipped!

    • Peter
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Jerry, even if you did mention names they would not get published.

      Only limited dissent is allowed on this site – even if you are referring to long deceased former ministers.

      Skeletons remain firmly in cupboards.

      Reply I protect individuals dead or alive from allegations that are not backed by evidence or are peripheral to what we are talking about. That includes political opponents. If you want to slang people off go elsewhere

  29. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    JR: “There is plenty of talent in the Commons”
    Really? I see very little evidence to support that claim. In fact my view is that the calibre of MPs has never been so low in my far from short lifetime.

    • jerry
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      @Brian Tomkinson; I have to agree, but what does one expect when so many MPs have done little else than politics. I mean, first they study PPE at Uni, then get a researcher job for a MP, party or Union and before long they are the PPC for some impossible to win constituency but as long as they have a ‘good’ campaign they can be assured of a better constituency next time.

      In the good old days MPs used to come to politics via the boardroom or via a Trade Union – almost certainly having started on the shop floor. Didn’t a recent PM once admit that he had never had a real job, or at least one he as competent at, before entering politics?…

    • Peter
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Too many self-serving types and troughers.

  30. Epikouros
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Government and the public sector do not hire and fire on the grounds of competence. They do it measured on diversity or patronage or political expediency. The private sector is being bullied into following the diversity avenue the sure recipe for the creeping in of mediocrity. Follow those practices then the government and the public sector never known for being efficient, innovative or enterprising will continue to give the same rotten quality and value that it always does and in fact will deteriorate even further.

    True there are talented people on the green benches of the house of commons but they are rarely to be found on the ones occupied by the left. The Conservatives have them in some numbers but for the reasons given above have a tendency not to use them. If they did Theresa May would not be prime minister and Philip Hammond would not be chancellor for instance. As for government agencies and senior civil servants they appear to be on a merry go round of incompetents moving from post to post until they are either elevated to the lords, become an MP or obtain a nice sinecure as a lobbyist for some fake charity or such like.

  31. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    So do we now have a minister specifically tasked with making contingency plans for the increasingly likely scenario that we will not be able to negotiate any special trade deal with the stupid, spiteful and untrustworthy continuing EU?

    Apparently not; apparently the plan now is to abjectly surrender to the threat of terrorism and agree that the whole of the UK shall adopt all EU laws for the sake of goods exports to the Irish Republic corresponding to 0.1% of our GDP.

    • jerry
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      @Denis Cooper; In the scenario it will be more than for one Minsters capacity, it will be all Minsters, what is more (like for war) only the utterly foolish would make their plans public, or even acknowledge the very existence of such a department – I would be more worried if the PM had appointed such a Minister!

      Please do not allow your hatred for the EU to cloud your better judgement.

      • Hope
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        It is a good idea to have plans in place to be able to respond to every situation. You are quite wrong Jerry. Dennis is spot on. No need to use colorful language about what Dennis might think he is perfectly able to express his own view without any nonsense from you.

        • jerry
          Posted January 11, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          @Hope; Did I say that there should be no plans in place, no, try actually reading what I said for once. Good grief!…

  32. nigel
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    JR: I question your final sentence: “Meanwhile the private sector can learn from the public sector more about the need to listen carefully and respond well to the public who are the ultimate paymasters and judges of both sectors.”

    Does the public sector really listen more carefully and respond well to the public?

    Many will think not.

    • agricola
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      If the private sector do not respond to their public market place they go out of business. The public sector just cruises to it’s K.

      • jerry
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        @agricola; “If the private sector do not respond to their public market place they go out of business”

        Unless you are a TOC, or a water company, or a Toll Bridge operator etc. Never mind a [../self edit/..] private contractor with public sector contracts…

    • miami.mode
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Agree there, Nigel.

      Politicians respond with policies that they feel will get them re-elected whereas private sector respond to exactly what is needed or go out of business.

  33. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    For information, here is the latest House of Commons Library Research Briefing on Economic Indicators:

    so anyone can check the extent to which various indicators have just been following the medium term trends set well before the referendum, without any more than slight effects following from the result of that vote.

    For example, where would the November figure for CPI inflation have been if we had voted to stay in the EU? Judging from the chart displayed on that link it would probably have been a little lower than 3.1% , but only a little.

  34. agricola
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The polarisation of politics in the UK is such that there cannot be any long term plan. At best government cannot expect to be effective for more than four of their allotted five years. I would imagine that industry would find this laughable were it not so serious. In many areas of government activity there should be consensus across the political divide, so that long term outcomes can be agreed that are best for those whom government is supposedly there to serve. Mostly they serve themselves. Take one look at education since 1945 and there could not be a more glaring example of failure by successive governments to the detriment of the young and ultimately the country. Education has been slain on the altar of politics.

    Constant re-shuffles of ministers and others is a symptom of the above and suggests that the PM is not much use at recognising talent, or keeping it on board. When it is kept on board it is all too frequently for political expediency rather than ability at the job. It also allows the civil service to march unimpeded in their own direction. There is too much proven ability left wilting in the HoC because it does not quite match the flavour of the month.

  35. Bert Young
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Selecting the right people for a Cabinet appointment is all about the leader having a clarity of vision of the medium and longer term future . The media made many statements about bringing younger talent forward ; this annoyed me because I know that ability and experience are vital ingredients in the putting together of any top team . Younger talent is all very well and there is a case for it to be properly schooled; what is not right is to hoist it above the heads of those who are far more able and experienced . In the ranks of Conservative MPs there are certain individuals who ought to have been included in the Cabinet , and not using their talents is a considerable waste .

    Like many responders I was keen to see Hammond de-selected . I have never felt confident of his ability to grasp and understand the needs of the economy and to support the will of the people . Our host is far better qualified person to do this job . Equally Jacob Rees Mogg has shown a level of ability that ought to qualify him for a role in the Cabinet – there are those who consider him to be a future PM and he needs to get his feet under the table .

    Theresa is a talented person but who is at heart a “compromiser”. There is a lack of dynamism in her leadership and it prevents her from being successful . Running the country in a medium to longer term period of time is making sure her team are co-ordinated and skilled enough to achieve these objectives . There is no room for weakness in top leadership , the dissension and uncertainty we have witnessed has been the outcome .

  36. Sakara Gold
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I do not agree with your position on all of the issues, but I regret that you were not offered a role in government in May’s re-shuffle. Your experience would have benefited both the country and the Brexit negotiations.

    Liam Fox has built a huge empire as Secretary of State for International Trade but has failed to sign a single deal, in spite of organising jollies to 40-odd countries and traveling about a quarter of a million miles at the taxpayers expense. In my view May should have replaced him with you. She should have found a way to keep the excellent Justine Greening at Education and the dreadful Boris Johnson should have been parked on the back benches.

    On a lighter note, it was good to read this morning that Hammond has threatened the EU with a financial crisis if they don’t sign off on our Brexit plans. That is a real exercise in wielding power.

    Harold Wilson said that a week is a long time in politics. Who knows what crisis is around the corner for May’s accident prone administration, requiring another round of sackings? Dont give up!

    • rose
      Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      “Liam Fox has built a huge empire as Secretary of State for International Trade but has failed to sign a single deal, in spite of organising jollies to 40-odd countries and traveling about a quarter of a million miles at the taxpayers expense.”

      Even Mr R coudn’t have signed a single deal as we are not allowed to by the EU until after we have left, and maybe after the transition period is over too.

  37. Beecee
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Mrs May has said that her Government now follows the make-up of the people it represents. What happened to putting the best people in the job regardless then?

    Private polling, it is suggested, identified Education as the main reason for the poor 2017 election result – so Greening and Johnson had to go! Really? Nothing to do with convincing the ‘blue-rinse’ brigade and their families, the lifeblood of the local Tory parties, that they would have to sell their houses to pay for elderly care? The Polls sank through the floor when that was announced!

    Nothing to do with Jeremy promising the snowflake generation that their debts would be cancelled etc. etc. They came out in force to vote for him and still see him as a brand.

    But we are saved. All shops will have to charge 5p per bag in future to prove the Government’s green credentials.

    This is all well and good but I doubt if the public at large gives a stuff about the green economy other than it seems to cost them more than before we had one!

    Mrs May needs to learn that if you cannot think of anything better to do, then do nothing.

  38. BOF
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Ministers need to have drive, experience and a degree of independence and personality to stand up to the blob that makes up the civil service. Promoting young, inexperienced people simply makes them vulnerable to becoming compliant and following advice from the civil service. Currently the civil service are subversively undermining the country (with much help from the PM) and introducing socialist, gender orientated, high tax policy. All far removed from Conservatism.

    Listening to Radio 4 this morning I was horrified to hear discussion of army recruitment. Not only has Government reduced our defence capability to far below where it should be but I cannot see our armed forces even being able to defend the country in a few years time.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly. On both defence recruitment and Ministers.

      So may ministers seem to they are just performing puppets of their department apologising for it, defending the indefensible or doing pathetic photo ops in a hi viz jacket and hard hat!

      They are there to endure the department actually serves the public occasionally, this rather than their staff!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink


        So many ministers seem to think they are just performing puppets …

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      No small country can defend itself against a superpower. Since Russia and China are either too far away or too weak to act like one in the European theatre, there is only one left and that happens to be our ally. Who would you like to defend against? The Irish border? That would probably work. Defending against a joint Belgian-Luxemburg invasion? Maybe, as long as France would not support them and the US would allow both sides to use critical US technology. Totally ridiculous. The role of West European countries is simply to supplement the US (more or less like Commonwealth troops supported the UK in WWII) and keeping the US happy. The days of Falklands and Borneo are long gone and no one is planning for the associated capabilities.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        China and Russia are showing clear imperial/colonial intent by building up large *hard* looking armies.

        Britain still needs ‘tripwire’ forces for demarcation of territory. We also need a *hard* army of significant numbers to be able select elite *special* troopers from.

        ‘Touchy-feely’ and ‘Army’ are incompatible. What trooper wanting to test his mettle is going to be enticed to join that outfit ?

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      While Russia and China are turning out terrifyingly tough looking infantry indeed.

  39. acorn
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Imagine if our corporations reshuffled CEOs every year or so. Running an energy company one day and a health service company the next. Not exactly great for long term planning, even though the individuals concerned may both have business management qualifications and industry specific knowledge and experience. Imagine doing the same with large government departments, with individuals chosen from a mere 650 political chancers, looking for a semi-retirement job.

    Time to elect the Prime Minister by popular vote and let him/her appoint a Cabinet of departmental CEOs from proven talent in industry and commerce, outside of the Westminster bubble. Leave parliament to play Punch & Judy, hopefully it may eventually realize what a Legislature is actually meant to do.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Ageed. See my post, delayed of course, above


  40. Iain Gill
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Good management eh? not much of that about.

    Not in the private sector either, where the senior “doers” tend to run the company behind the scenes despite not because of the political management layers above them. The crucial difference being that if they keep the customers happy and make money for the business that gives them power to carry on. It is the feedback loop between customers and the business which produces success and none of these other things.

    Staff appraisals rarely identify the real relative merit of staff, mostly being based on brown nosing ability and political skills rather than delivery or feedback from peers or subordinates.

    In most big organisations 5 % of the people are doing over 50 % of the work, and the most senior leadership usually has little or no idea who that 5 % is.

    The problem ministers have is they cannot demonstrate success by making money, or keeping customers happy, and they are in a hyper brown nosing profession, where substance and real delivery success are even less a part of getting on than usual.

    Different ministers also have different quality of civil servants around them, and the luck involved in that can make a big difference, and is not something a short term minister typically has time or power to influence.

    If done properly ministers should have metrics to deliver against, hard measurable deliverables where possible. Some of the numbers are even in the manifesto (immigration numbers for example). And failure to significantly achieve should be a real barrier to staying in place, but we all can see that does not happen.

    I doubt the tribal party system is capable of selecting the kinds of people the country really needs as parliamentary candidates, or later as minsters. So we are left bumbling along as we are now.

  41. Rien Huizer
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    It is a fiction that ministerial jobs are managerial. The apparatus os state is managed by civil servants. Ministers are either cheerleaders, in which case they are not made to fail, or busybodies who will walk into a trap some day because they may be individually smart usually lack expertise and managerial experience. The continental practice of coalitions and allowing top civil servants some time in a political role, in combination, tends to afford the electorate a better grip on what goes on in the public sector better effectiveness and a more steady policy development because there tends to be little risk of going, “from May to Corbyn in a few years. You cannot expect a very large organisation, by far the largest employer in the country and responsible for the execution and development of policies many years in the making, to change overnight to “Labour” or “Conservative” mode. The UK has been lucky with the Major-Blair-Camenron sequence because in terms of relevant policy issues, they were all mainstream. Just suppose a Rees Mogg or Corbyn actually doing waht they promise. It would be quite challenging.

    Hence these reshuffles are much more important as to their effect on the balance of power within the ruling party. The jobs are gifts, not tasks, exaggerating a bit. Hence the continued presence of people who clearly do not have a lot of managerial talent..

  42. JoolsB
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I am amazed and disgusted that May and your party (there by the grace of England) have still not created even a Minister of State for England to sit alongside the Ministers of State for Scotland, Wales & NI in the UK Government. As England is deliberately denied it’s own First Minister, who for instance speaks for England in the Brexit talks when the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers are making their separate demands, contrary to what England voted for?
    Except for obvious reasons of self interest, how much longer do your party think they can get away with denying England a voice or any representation whatsoever.
    The Tories continue to ignore England at their peril. Shame on you all!!

    • Mark B
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      They will ignore us until it becomes a vote winner.

      Not much talk about England now that there is no election in sight.

  43. Chris
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Yes, reshuffles can be good if they leave the government in a stronger position than before. This certainly did not. It demonstrated a weak and incompetent PM, in my mind, who fails to address the key issues. I was interested in the point made by Matthew Goodwin article in the D Tel about the situation facing the Conservatives:
    Whether the Tories meet triumph or disaster depends on immigration reform, by
    Matthew Goodwin
    Quote from Brexit Central: “….They (the Cons) stand at a crossroads: down one path lies a Cameron-reboot aimed at tempting millennials, middle-class liberals and Remainers in London and the university towns with offers of a soft Brexit, tuition-fee reform or a new housing policy. The other path requires responding to their much larger army of fervently pro-Brexit working-class voters who are looking for a “real” Brexit and who, it should not be forgotten, have already shown their willingness to abandon the Tories when their concerns are not met. Ukip may no longer be a danger to the Tories in elections but apathy easily could be. …”

  44. Blue and Gold
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I get sick of hearing the word ‘talent’ when discussing politicians. A musician, an artist, a garden designer, a cricketer etal…….but a politician, no.

    This country needs a Coalition government of all the political parties to fight our way out of the catastrophic mess that it has been inflicted on it.

  45. Prigger
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    We were shown a snapshot on TV of the New Cabinet.”Not enough women and black people. The Cabinet should reflect the face of modern Britain” the media said. “It is logical” the media said. Any MP asked agreed in what the media said.
    How dumb!

  46. Eh?
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Except for Ministers resigning for genuine personal reasons, we haven’t a clue why they were moved or replaced. We know more in our own work be it Local Authority or private industry.
    Not enough to little to no respect is given for ability, capability. Profit is not a consideration. Financial papers remark on the incestuousness of many high-ranking company board member appointments. I know, personally in the health service and education and, in financial institutions for management reshuffles, “who you know ” is a factor.
    Can We the People see the examination papers which candidates to Cabinet had to complete successfully for each post? Thought not. Like asking for their Martian passports.
    The Cabinet selection procedures do not command respect.

  47. stred
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I can’t find the origin of the law which says that bosses tend to employ only those who are less clever than themselves and that agree with their ideas. This would account for why 72% of the cabinet are Remainers. These prefer to remain in an organisation where they let others decide policies that they then rubber stamp. In this way they do not need to think about changes or take responsibility. At least, by accident, the female member has who was in favour of making men able to become women by saying so, with rights to ladies changing rooms, has jogged off in a huff. Unfortunately, there are other deluded fools still at the top of government.

    • Diogenes
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      You must have been out of touch for quite some time. Over these last 10-15 years, there have been scores of management books that state exactly the opposite, e.g. “if (as a boss) you are the cleverest person in the room, you are in the wrong room”.
      On LinkedIn there are plenty of quotations with similar messages from Bill Gates, Lee Iacocca, …
      So Mrs May might not have taken such bad decisions after all? We’ll have to wait and see.

      • stred
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        Well Diogenes, Bill Gates’ advice doesn’t seem to have penetrated to Whitehall, where Prof David MacKay was ignored in Decc and the then PM Milliband of the Climate Change Act said he had not read his book, despite all the accolades. Mrs May seems to have ignored the principle when she chose a minister to be chairman of the Tories who when he was housing minister said he thought bungalows were the answer to the shortage of housing and land. Too dense to understand densities or much else and another Remainer.

  48. Brit
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Are reshuffles a good idea?
    I would like them transparent.
    JR,I can see from your blogs, unless you employ a ghost writer, generally, you would know how to be Chancellor, PM and other Ministers. I doubt many of your constituents actually are aware .

    Although I read a bit, I have not any idea why many Cabinet Ministers are in particular posts.Many haven’t particular backgrounds which leads one into believing such specific roles would be interesting for them.
    Yet having “a passion” for something, an already formatted mind-schema, does not necessarily wisdom make. We hear the result in Parliamentary intercourse. Brexit and remarkably Trump are the pepper and salt liberally shook into absolutely EVERY single debate bar none. We can understand their obsession with Brexit.

  49. Bill
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    A good place to start would be reducing the size of government substantially (including, no especially, the civil service).

    By substantially I mean by at least 50% (as a start)

  50. formula57
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I take this opportunity to distance myself from what could be implied criticism of Prime Minister May’s reshuffle in your posting today. It has been masterly since the casual observer would not know that anything material had changed at all and so the notion of stability that the government has been keen on is thereby promoted. (Obviously after the pre-briefing boosted expectations and with the many lost opportunities, scrutiny suggests it has been a bit of a farce.)

    It is probable that available to any prime minister there are so few of the talented people with vision, energy and industry and the will to make things happen that the particular deployment of the others hardly makes any difference. Your ideas though would seem likely to improve the administration of government and I recall that you have written here previously in the same vein.

  51. Peter
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    This prime minister cannot even handle a reshuffle.

    She wants ministers to leave their post and they just tell her they are not going.

    No leadership. A worrying prospect for the greater challenges ahead.

  52. Pragmatist
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    In regard to choosing employees “…regular appraisals which provide a chance for senior managers to explain again what they are looking for…”
    Have we ever heard bosses say even privately, ” We had a totally wrong idea about how one chooses personnel. We interviewed them extensively using all our accumulated knowledge and practice. We failed miserably in appointing the right people even though we had a plethora of broad-based applicants.” ?
    No, they blame their failure on market conditions beyond their control, inflation, government policy,union intransigence , competition, and other modern-day synonyms for witchcraft.

  53. Richard Butler
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    2 City Bankers wrote a brilliant book, The Puritan Gift, on the matter of the vital importance of management having domain expertise.

    It contends that the Anglo-Saxon disease of appointing people to senior management that lack domain expertise is seriously detrimental to outcomes and cites Japanese & German culture of appointing board members that are far more likely to have started in the company post room 5 decades before, whereas in the UK we have this dreadful idea that great after dinner speakers with a University degree necessarily make perfect business leaders that can apparently run any business.

    I see the parallels in politics, the last thing we need is Blair/Brown era revolving door management.

  54. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Well, what a surprise, who would have thought it.

    “UK silent on EU origins of plastic bags law”

    “What has gone mostly unreported in the UK is that the plastic bag charge is needed to fulfil a requirement in an EU directive.”

    “The directive requires national governments to do at least one of two things: either ban shops from giving away free lightweight plastic bags, or to come up with other measures that will reduce plastic bag consumption drastically.

    If member states choose the second option, they have to make sure that by the end of 2019, their citizens use no more than 90 such bags per year. By the end of 2025, plastic bag consumption per capita has to be down to 40.”

    “The 2015 bill [actually SI*] which introduced the 5p charge for shops with more than 250 employees does not even mention the EU or the directive, unlike transposition bills in other EU countries.”

    * The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015

    • Andy
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Another brilliant EU rule. We need to slash our plastic consumption – and our government is useless, so the EU steps in. Bravo.

      • rose
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        It was probably the German led EU which insisted in the first place on over packaging, for health and safety reasons. Before the EU, the whole of Europe used brown paper bags.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        I thought you’d like it, Andy.

        But why not boast about it, why not point out that it is an EU law, and give that as another reason for loving the EU, why hide it?

  55. Andy
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Today’s Evening Standard editorial on Brexit is just a little bit brilliant. I’m really starting to like George Osborne. Moving to newspapers was a good move for him but I don’t doubt that he’ll be back in politics before long. He should set up a new centre party – the Real Conservatives, seeing that his former party has been gobbled up by the ghastly UKIP.

    • mancunius
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      The ES is a freesheet that is aimed at confirming the bias of the jaded commuters who credulously gobble it up. Even they do not bother reading its ‘leading articles’.
      George Osborne has (presumably deliberately, as his IQ would be in minus figures if it were accidental) committed political suicide by his public attacks on all the current Conservative government’s policies via (this paper ).
      His only hope now is to join the Labour Party.

      • Andy
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        It’s not a Conservative government. It’s basically a UKIP government. You can tell from the nastiness and incompetence. Most voters are moderate. The zealots in charge are not.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 11, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          It’s basically a Remain government, Prime Minister and three quarters of her cabinet, trying to do what most of them did not want to do and inevitably finding it a bit of a struggle. Of course it doesn’t help that the preceding government, including the lovely George Osborne, refused to make any contingency plans in case they lost the referendum.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      “the Real Conservatives, seeing that his former party has been gobbled up by the ghastly UKIP.”

      I wish.

      The ES reads very much like The Guardian.

      As it is now headed up by a former Tory No2 the reality seems to be that the Conservatives were gobbled up by Nu Labour some while ago.

  56. Dave Andrews
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t matter if you appoint an idiot as a minister. They only do what they are told by civil servants who know better, particularly in how to interpret the EU rules they have to abide by.

  57. rose
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    One of the many things I liked about David Cameron – and how I do miss him, despite our differences – was that he had the confidence, authority, and wisdom to let ministers thoroughly bed down and get on with the work of managing their departments. The only time this fell down was over Michael Gove and Education when he appeared to have lost his nerve in the face of NUT pressure.

    How can moving them about serve any purpose other than to hobble them? Mr Hunt was quite right to resist this, if that is what happened.

    If, however, a minister is a square peg in a round hole, as Mr Hammond appears to be, then the PM should have no hesitation in removing him.

    My criticism of this shuffle is that the PM has once again thrown away an opportunity to serve her country to the best of her abilities. As these are not great, she simply must surround herself with able ministers to help her. The very idea that she should instead fuss about putting in token women and token British Asians and Africans is appalling. It will take generations to recover from this positive discrimination, generating as it does, lack of trust on the one hand, and stigma on the other. And she has absolutely no need to go down this route. If she is challenged on the lack of African and Asian faces in the Supreme Court, all she has to do is explain that the cohort of lawyers in their sixties and seventies has very few immigrants or children of immigrants in it. But this is changing fast. For example, the head of the Army explained this morning that there are now not enough of the original inhabitants of these islands among young men aged 16-24 to supply the army. He said they just aren’t out there. He meant, not that they didn’t want to be in the army, but that they just haven’t been born.

    So just be patient. Demographic change is galloping and there is no need to discriminate against anyone. Cabinet shuffling, if it must take place, should not be social engineering.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Just put the best in place.

      And if 40% of the population are white male then it is clear that they should be well represented in top jobs too.

  58. Dennis
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    On the 22 Jan there is a Commons debate on ‘We should leave the EU NOW’

    • Andy
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Let’s see how that works out. Let me guess who’ll speak: Peter Bone, Bill Cash, Bernard Jenkin, Kate Hoey, Owen Paterson, Frank Field plus a bunch of other irrelevant out of touch pensioners.

      I’ll be washing my hair.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        A democrat would listen to this debate.
        Hear both sides argue their case.
        Rational debate is vital.
        Personal abuse of those who hold opinions different to you is a current trend that sadly you have as a habit.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Andy – out of touch pensioners.

        Yup. I’m all for scrapping the Lords.

  59. PaulDirac
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    DT reported today – The no-deal position minister was cancelled, this was a short note in an inner page, is #10 trying to bury the news?

    Probably as a result of negative responses from the EU

  60. mancunius
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    JR asks if reshuffles are ‘a good idea’: unfortunately this particular reshuffle has remained merely ‘an idea’ in May’s mind. Whether the idea was good or bad is difficult to guess at, from the confusingly contradictory advance briefings, and because nothing of import has materialized. Presumably her ‘idea’ (whatever it was) proved impossible to carry out, in which case she has no personal authority left over her cabinet, and is therefore virtually ineffectual as PM, suggesting she has no political strategy other than hanging onto her job. But I cannot recall such a damp squib of a cabinet reshuffle as this one.
    In the context of May’s apparent readiness to get rid of ministers who take a vital stand on principle against their civil servants and the unions on behalf of the citizen (e.g. Gove at Education), such minor deckchair adjustment risks contempt.

    • mancunius
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Erratum: I’ve just remembered that it was not May but Cameron who moved Gove.
      But her attempt to move Hunt from Health is an example of kowtowing to union-created trouble.

  61. The Prangwizard
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    These reshuffles are public relations stunts. When carried out by inept leaders like Mrs May who try to use them to ‘change society’ as is her aim, she insults the intelligence of vast swathes of decent people who resent their beliefs assaulted.

    And the we see the advert for the army. Pasz the sick bag.

    • mancunius
      Posted January 10, 2018 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      I hope you realize that sick bag will cost you 5p – in the PM’s bid to end the ‘immense suffering of marine life’. 🙂

  62. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    You paint a false picture of people management which is structured to think in little boxes and not take account of the whole picture. For example I may ask you( and this is fictional) if you have the latest certificate which enables you to become a politician or MP . This may have been brought into being last year and of course you have not gained this certificate even though you have served many years . Management would then tick a box and say you are not qualified to do the job you are doing,This would then give them a valid, but stupid reason to bring others in who qualified last week and who gained the new certificate.

  63. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    A key difference between Cabinet reshuffles and the board of a company is that boards are more collective. The Chairman cannot unilaterally appoint or sack other members. It is extraordinary that the Prime Minister can. Isn’t the PM supposed to be primus inter pares, not a dictator? Perhaps this power derives from the PM also being Party Leader. But again, although it is up to the party how it organises itself i would have thought just about every other type of organisation operates rather better then by creating a virtual dictatorship.
    When things were going badly for Mrs May early on with her personal and dotty economic policy ideas and dithering over Article 50, her appeasement of the EU etc etc. I wished that either the Cabinet or the party could so arrange themselves as to ensure strong clear leadership leaving her as ‘President’ only for presentational purposes.
    It also seems to me that decisions made by Cabinet are the result more of individuals fearing dismal for personal reasons rather than competence or the value of their contribution. In a public company neither the Chairman nor the CEO can sack a director.
    The power of the PM/Party Leader is too great and too open to abuse.

  64. Dr Who
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Just when we were going to forgive Mrs May..

    Mrs May is going to have a word with supermarkets about plastic wrapping with the idea of an aisle for unwrapped vegetables and fruit. One takes it she has examined the practice in Russia and elsewhere and can remember how it used to be here?

    # No doubt she has carefully considered the reasons why the stuff is covered with plastic in the first place?

    If she has, and still feels she needs to “have a word” with supermarkets then she should collect her p45 and can hand in her resignation as PM at the same time.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      It’s just another of her dotty ideas. She will be politely received and ignored.

    • Diogenes
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      In both the twice-weekly market and the three supermarkets (SuperU, Intermarche and Lidl) I am used to attend in France, there are large displays of unwrapped fruits and vegetables. There are also displays with packaged products. However it would seem a large majority of people prefer the unwrapped stuff, if only to decide what quantity they want and to have a good look at what they buy.
      But different countries, different customs!

  65. BobE
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Dithering Doris

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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