Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tomorrow's probable Shadow Shuffly Stuff

It's being mooted that DC will carry out a limited shadow cabinet reshuffle tomorrow. If this is so, what are the likely moves?

Tipped for demotion:

Ainsworth - it is being said that he's had little or no media presence during his three-year tenure at Environment. If this is the only complaint, he should be replaced by a younger, more thrusting Cameronite. However, due to the scaling down of the Environment brief and the creation of the new Woodland Folk department, Ainsworth may keep his role anyway. I fail to see how his replacement by 'sidewards step' of, say, a Willetts or May would remedy the current situation.

Villiers - has apparently been poor at Transport and will probably more somewhere slightly more junior rather than leave the shadow cabinet altogether. New slimmed-down environment, perhaps? She would also have a far harder job shadowing Geoff Hoon rather than the easily massacrable Ruth Kelly.

May - I've never been much of a Theresa May fan, but I doubt Cameron will get rid of her - I do, however, wish he would. Her media performances are consistently unconvincing. She languishes in the backwaters of the shadow Commons Leader position, a position more usefully held by someone more senior, such as Clarke, Sir Malcolm, or even Michael Howard.

Willetts - he lost control of the most important half of the Education brief in the last reshuffle. I would rather he returned to the backbenches. I have always said I feel slightly sorry for May and Willetts - they have served the Party pretty well over the last 10 years or so, but their skills are now being eclipsed by MPs from the 2005 intake, some of whom are destined for very high office indeed.

Gillan/Mundell - one wonders if these two would make into a Conservative cabinet: personally, I doubt it. They'll do for now, and these shadow positions are such utter backwaters that they could be occupied by common household objects and neither the press nor public would notice. Watch out for Sir Malcolm in a 'Nations Sec' role in the future. I'm determined that his talents shouldn't be wasted on the backbenches.

Mitchell - many said that David Davis had secured his shadow cabinet position in 2005. My opinion of Andrew Mitchell has grown over recent months, having seen the excellent work he's been doing in Rwanda. Perversely, this has earned him absolutely no mainstream media coverage. He should remain in place. He's not just David Davis' former campaign manager, he's an good Shadow International Development Sec too.

Spelman - Cameron shouldn't and probably won't move her away at his stage. If she's found guilty by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, she'll obviously have to go: but to shuffle her away now would be in poor taste. I thought Cameron should have moved her away right at the beginning, when the media interest in her misfortune was at its peak, but the investigation has taken longer than I thought. And on that note: what's happening to Peter Hain?


Justine Greening - ever since her excellent victory in Putney I thought she looked like cabinet material - possibly even Chancellor one day. She's been doing well in the treasury team, and may well be given a more senior post. I think she'd suit Schools and Families if Willetts went elsewhere.

Greg Clark - this junior MP has been widely touted to enter the shadow cabinet at some point - he's extremely talented and, like Greening, I imagine him to occupy a very senior post at some point in the future.

Ed Vaizey - I would have been happy to see Ed occupy a shadow cabinet role at the previous reshuffle. He's an extremely affable chap and an excellent media performer. He must, surely, be brought in.


Maria Miller
Greg Barker
Chris Grayling (possible Chairman)
Eric Pickles (possible Chairman)

Now it's time for an 'expect in Government' list. These are the faces which I am almost positive will occupy Cabinet positions in the next Conservative government, unless they are eliminated through scandal or death:


Note that there aren't any women in this list. This poses a problem for DC.

Probably to go:




Those I haven't mentioned (shadow 'nations' etc) are pretty much unknowns.

The LordM Guest List:

Clarke (Leader of House or Cabinet Office)
Rifkind (Either of the above or 'Nations')
Redwood (Either of the above, but only once we're in government)

I would be delighted to see any or all these three back on the front line of politics. I'm sure most Tories would be.

It's difficult to predict what Cameron's going to do tomorrow. I doubt there'll be a direct 'response' to the Mandelson appointment. Cameron's known to dislike reshuffles, so I don't think he'll risk a gesture like the appointment of Sir Nick Winterton to the new Dept for Energy and Climate Change, for example. I think that sort of decision would match the idiocy shown by Brown in appointing Mandelson.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Shuffly Stuff


N. BROWN (Chief Whip)
M. BECKETT (Housing - probably part time)
L. BYRNE (Cabinet Office?)
C. FLINT (Cabinet Office?)
J. MURPHY (Scotland)


R. KELLY (Transport)
D. BROWNE (Scottish Secretary, Defence Secretary)
Baroness ASHTON (EU Commission)


G. HOON (Chief Whip - Transport)
J. HUTTON (BERR - Defence)
E. MILIBAND (Cabinet Office - Energy and Climate Change)


Department for Energy and Climate Change (Woodland Folk)


Chancellor DARLING
Home Sec SMITH
Foreign Sec MILIBAND D
Justice STRAW
Education BALLS
Work & Pensions PURNELL
Communities BLEARS
Universities DENHAM
International Development ALEXANDER
Chief Sec COOPER
Leader of the House HARMAN


Mandelson's appointment will be derided by the Tories and probably all the mainstream press, but Blairites will be delighted. Draper was doing the rounds on Sky and News24 calling it a 'masterstroke' and already predicting the end of the Tories. The reality is, Mandelson is a widely hated and ridiculed figure, and whatever his intellectual capacity to perform in his new role, Brown will probably live to regret his appointment.

Nick Brown was widely tipped to become Chief Whip - Hoon's demotion might come as a surprise given that he was said to be effective in the role. Nick Brown is a hardline Brownite and may cause considerable friction within the Party: but the Mandy appointment is designed to balance this potential problem.

Hutton will be delighted to move to Defence, a specialist area of his, given his authorship of a volume on military history and Barrow-in-Furness (shipbuilding) being his constituency. Des Browne was expected to leave cabinet, although maybe he could have kept Scotland. He doesn't.

The surprise appointment of Margaret Beckett to the common 'troubleshooting' role at the Cabinet Office shows Brown's determination to present an experienced and united front. It does, however, along with the Mandy saga, provide Cameron with a 'figures from the past' narrative.

The creation of a new 'Energy and Climate Change' office seems a ridiculous frivolity, and quite possibly a large expense. Ed Miliband is posted there - a considerable promotion to what is likely to be a difficult brief - but, I maintain, a silly move.