Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Cabinet Reshuffle: A Tory's View

by Will Wallace

Demoted: Andrew Lansley
(source: Daily Telegraph)
Most people asking my opinion of Cameron’s recent reshuffle last week were rather baffled by my somewhat rebellious answer: “It was full of rubbish decisions.” The biggest fatality was, of course, the Secretary of State for Health. Andrew Lansley, the brains behind the controversial Health and Social Care Act, was effectively demoted to become Leader of the House of Commons, replacing Sir George Young. I’ve never liked Lansley – he broke the Coalition’s pledge not to carry out a top-down reorganisation of the NHS, he failed to tackle the growing obesity epidemic by allowing himself to be seduced by the fast food industry and he’s failed to cut bureaucracy and needless waste. When news first broke that Lansley would be leaving the Department of Health, it was – in my view – a real chance for the government to rectify his incompetence. But then Cameron appointed Jeremy Hunt to the position.

Promoted: Jeremy Hunt
(source: Guardian)
Hunt is the Culture Secretary who allegedly attempted to have scenes celebrating the NHS removed from the London Olympics Opening Ceremony. Hunt also has a voting record that supports homeopathy – anyone with a trace of common sense can tell you that ‘magic water’ is codswallop. And, above all, Hunt lacks experience; I’d much rather see an NHS-doctor-turned-politician like Sarah Wollaston take on a senior role in the Department of Health, as opposed to someone who once claimed that football hooliganism was to blame for the Hillsborough disaster.

Promoted: Maria Miller
(source: Wales Online)
Another whopping blunder made in the Cabinet reshuffle was the decision to appoint Maria Miller as Minister for Women and Equalities. Since being elected MP for Basingstoke in 2005, Miller has had a consistently bad voting record on LGBT issues. She opposed gay adoption rights, anti-discrimination laws and she is yet to add her name to the growing list of government ministers in favour of legalising same-sex marriage. I wouldn’t therefore say she’s terribly well-placed as the minister responsible for equality. To make matters even worse, she’s also in charge of issues involving women; Miller is a critic of abortion. She may as well have been appointed Minister for Intolerance and Idiocy.

"Why does George Osborne still
work at the Treasury?"
(source: Guardian)
My third disappointment in the new cabinet is perhaps most shocking to people who know me as being an unwavering supporter, member and activist of the Conservative Party: why does George Osborne still work at the Treasury? Not only do the British public want to see him get the sack, but also he is very unpopular within the party and even Conservatives have started calling on him to resign. The last Budget was, frankly, a disaster. I’m well aware I wrote an article at the time calling it "A Budget for Working People", but the number of U-turns the government has since performed is ridiculous. Anyway, whoever thinks up a policy that bases the tax on pastry on the basis of its temperature, where it is stored and whether the customer has been queuing, is just plain thick. Furthermore, it was probably a Liberal Democrat, not Osborne, who put forward one of the few decent Budget proposals –raising personal allowance. And most importantly, Plan A isn’t working.

Despite my cynicism, however, there is some relief.

Promoted: Sam Gyimah
The new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Health, Anna Soubry, has recently expressed her support for legalising assisted dying in the UK and has previously spoken about legalising cannabis to prevent the harmless drug from being a ‘gateway drug’. These two issues should be on the table: it frustrates me to hear that the government won’t even consider a debate on the issue when public opinion is becoming increasingly in favour of legalising both euthanasia and cannabis. More good news came when Sam Gyimah was made Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister. Gyimah was recently in the news after saying that the Conservative Party ought to engage more with ethnic communities and minority groups. Sadly, though, the Cabinet has more inexperienced white men than even before.

Of course, ministerial positions should be given to those who are best suited to those posts, but there seem to be some out-of-place appointments. Personally my greatest concern is the increase in right-wing Conservatives around the Cabinet table. Ken Clarke’s successor at the Justice Department, Chris Grayling, may alienate the Liberal Democrats and devastate social reforms.

These are absolutely fascinating times in British politics, but I hope you can now understand why I feel that Cameron’s recent reshuffle was “full of rubbish decisions”

Read about the "The Night of the Long Knives"one of the most infamous reshuffles in British political history.

Read other articles by Will Wallace on the May 2012 Local ElectionsBoris Johnsonthe consequences of a Mitt Romney presidency, Rick Santorumdog ownership and revision.


  1. Not sure that Hunt's future should be forever blighted by a mistake he made many years ago. The Sun made the same mistake. Is The Sun still a popular newspaper? Yes.

    Regarding George Osborne's longevity, it is perhaps somewhat shortsighted to say that he should be damned to disgrace for evermore. If you look at the economy within Thatcher's first term, you see that it too was in staggeringly bad shape. People hated her for it - but did we bin her? No we did not. Osborne is, for better or for worse, one of the Conservative Party's best political strategists and also one of Cameron's closest allies. They cannot afford to ditch him, and to do so would not be wise.

    Perhaps you should be looking at Justine Greening's move, and the procrastination/potential U-turn over Heathrow (for which, incidentally, I seem to have a much cheaper and more convenient solution)? And Baroness Warsi's move from Chairman must surely attract some comment.

  2. Osborne should have been given Warsi's job as Party Chairman, but he certainly needs replacing as Chancellor after two years of stagnated economic growth. Greening's move to International Development was disappointing for two reasons: a) it raises the possibility of a U-turn over the third runway, and b) Andrew Mitchell was doing a very good job as International Development minister. And I myself am a bit miffed by Warsi's seeming demotion - she attracted younger people and was focal to party campaigning and communications. Such a waste to lose her

  3. I would suggest a 10 point plan to fix Britain

    1.Selective exclusion of foreign-made goods from British markets and the reduction of foreign imports and increase taxes on firms which outsource work abroad. Identify and cut £15bn of "lower priority" spending to protect front-line services while reducing structural deficit, in four years.

    2. Ensure only immigrants who will "benefit the economy" will be admitted. Set up a Border Police Force with the power to stop, search, detain and prosecute and offer English language instruction for all.

    3.Commit UK to military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, to end active UK military involvement in Iraq in the near future. Commit to replacing Trident to maintain the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent.

    4.Allow the police to use instant sanctions to deal with anti-social behaviour and strengthen stop and search powers to tackle knife crime. Add more that 15,000 prison places by 2014
    Tougher sentences for knife crime and pledge to protect frontline police from budget cuts in 2011-2013. Add 15,000 prison places by 2014 through the UK’s largest ever prison-building programme.Increase police numbers by 3,000 over five years and have annual fitness tests for police officers.

    5.Replace 50% 100,000 NHS "bureaucrats" with doctors, nurses and dentists; committed to a free, fully funded NHS "for all British citizens". Bar foreigners from using the NHS. Make the treasury take over all primary care trust and pfi debt.

    6.Establish a grammar school in every town and replace student loans with student grants. Scrap target of 50% of young people going to university and abolish compulsory citizenship and Personal, Social and Health education.

    7.Provide £73 million to help low income families access childcare and allow parents to share maternity leave.

    8.Scrap Stamp Duty for for homes up to £250,000 except when they are buy-to-lets.

    9.Pass a law to require a referendum on any future treaty that transfers power from Britain to the EU. Pass a UK Sovereignty Bill, to ensure ultimate authority stays in Parliament. Hold in/out referendum on eu membership. If out enter Swiss style free trade agreement.

    10. Propose a £30bn "Y-shaped" high-speed rail-line from London to Manchester and Leeds via Birmingham. Build additional runways at; Heathrow, Gatwick , Luton , Stansted and a new 6 runway 'super airport' with high speed rapid transit link to London.

    1. Protectionism is never a good idea for any nation let alone a small island one which relies heavily on foreign markets.

    2. The SELECTIVE exclusion and increased taxation of foreign-made goods would allow British manufactures to compete with cheap subsidised and substandard eastern imports while allowing us to import the goods we are unable to produce here. This would provide new jobs in the de-industrialised and high unemployment north of England , reducing the uk welfare expenditure and increasing income tax revenues

    3. Some alright points there Will - but most of those are policies from the Conservative's 2010 manifesto, so it's good to see a turn around in your views. The website where you got those views from ( ) is a tad outdated though, given how much worse the economy is now than it was in 2010 (I blame Osborne)


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