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Day: September 5, 2012

Reshuffle thoughts and why the Lib Dems biggest loss wasn’t even a Lib Dem.

Yesterday was the big day. The much anticipated cabinet and ministerial reshuffle. The excitement was palpable. However when it became clear that changes were going to be more Claudio Ranieri than Roberto Mancini the excitement seemed to wane. In fact I even went to ASDA and whilst I was disappointed their hot deli counter didn’t have any Cumberland ring sausages I was able to procure calamine lotion for all those bites I seem to have taken on Sunday.

Anyway I digress.

So what do I think about the reshuffle is the main question that is holding this blog post together and as a Lib Dem I should start with the Lib Dems but they weren’t the focus of my attention. The movement of Ken Clarke is a huge blow to the party – and to the country. The moving of Ken Clarke out of Justice was a clear nod to the Tory right who prefer the old adage of ‘hang ’em and flog ’em’ or ‘lock ’em up and throw any the key’ neither of which are what you’d call the modern way to rehabilitation. Sadly this view of the justice system is one that is shared by a large proportion of the country and therefore having a forward-thinking man in that position was harming polling. Clarke wasn’t moved because he was ineffective. He was moved to placate both his party and a large section of the electorate. Boo.

I suppose in many ways I like politicians who don’t really care about their career and just doing a good job and making the right decisions. Too often politicians will jump on bandwagons if they believe that is the way the waters are flowing. At the moment the electorate are becoming more and more disillusioned with everything and when that happens people tend to drift towards more extreme measures. When it comes to crime people want tougher sentencing. They don’t want rehabilitation they want punishment. Surely a progressive society would find space for both in their justice system but at the moment we aren’t a progressive society and therefore a hardliner was brought in placate the masses. Extremely disappointing.

I could go on about George Osbourne but I won’t. He’s an idiot. Imagine a Treasury including Vince Cable and Ken Clarke. Go on just imagine it for a moment. Two of the elder statesmen of politics who aren’t really in it for the kudos any more but more to actually you know – do a good job. The economy is what we like to call – rather important – and having the best brains trying to sort it out seems like a wise move but alas that isn’t the case. This might be David Cameron’s biggest weakness that he can’t see when someone is out of their depth and he needs to throw them a rubber ring and let them float away. Look at Osbourne, Lansley and Hunt.

Speaking of Hunt. Moving him to Health? I don’t think I need to write 1000s of words at this point to get my point across. This is just a bizarre decision and either shows that Jeremy Hunt is really very good (despite the compelling evidence to the contrary) or that David Cameron is scared of Jeremy Hunt. Could Hunt take down Cameron in some way? Maybe his closeness to Murdoch could be Cameron’s undoing. Maybe I am way off the mark here but that move is a bit like when the likeable but clearly out of his depth candidate in The Apprentice keeps surviving because he reminds Lord Sir Alan of himself. Yes I know it’s not Lord Sir Alan but I like to call him that.

Also the woman in charge of Transport who didn’t like the idea of a third runway at Heathrow gets moved on just a couple of weeks after the PM was challenged by one of his own about his manhood or rodentness with regards to the third runway. He has reiterated in the House of Commons today that he won’t back a third runway but he certainly didn’t say he would block it. It was very interesting language of the PM.

As for the Lib Dems not a huge amount to talk about. David Laws is back is the fray but doesn’t have a big brief and Jo Swinson’s rise to power continues. Lots of chagrin about Lynne Featherstone’s movements but I have little doubt she’ll continue to do a fine job in her new role – another one I think she’ll excel at. Norman Lamb has come in as well but no place for Julian Huppert who’d be excellent with a junior transport or green brief. I see no reasons to be jumping off a cliff but as I’ve noticed about the Lib Dems – a lot of people will find a reason.

Is it a reshuffle that we should be proud of? No. No it isn’t. Is it a reshuffle we had much say in? No. No it isn’t. Is the reshuffle bits and pieces that we did have a say in – i.e. the Lib Dems – something we should throw ourselves in front of a train over? No. No it isn’t. The Prime Minister decided he had to pander to one portion of his party. Sadly we can’t stop him doing that. All we can do is carry on trying to do our best in the jobs that we do have.

So all in all it was a disappointing reshuffle in general but as for the portion we had some influence over – there were some upsides. The downsides came squarely from our coalition partners and sadly we can’t control them.

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