Coffee House

Morale, communication and party discipline are key to David Cameron’s first reshuffle

4 September 2012

1:14 PM

4 September 2012

1:14 PM

Iain Duncan Smith’s decision to stay at DWP means that the reshuffle is not quite as radical as some in Downing Street were hoping it would be. But it still represents some significant shifts. First, party discipline and morale have been prioritised. Andrew Mitchell will lead a more robust Whips office and Grant Shapps will be an energetic chairman, though it is worth remembering that he had made clear in recent weeks he would prefer a department.

In policy terms, there appears to be a well-calibrated move to the right. Chris Grayling will argue for rehabilitation from a distinctly Conservative point of view. The departure of Greening and Villiers from Transport paves the way for the Tory side of the coalition at least to commit to doing what it takes to increase aviation capacity in the South East. Owen Paterson returning to mainland politics will also be welcomed by Tory MPs. It’ll be interesting to see what flexibility he is given on the EU aspects of his department, one former DEFRA minister told me recently that 80 per cent of its work relates to Brussels.

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The biggest actual move of the reshuffle is undoubtedly Jeremy Hunt going to Health. This is not without its risks. Andrew Lansley understood the reforms that he’s embarked on and after all a torrid few months, the controversy over them had moved off the front pages. But appointing Hunt is a red rag to those on the left who’ve been enraged both by the coalition’s NHS reforms and its proximity to the Murdochs. The other challenge for Hunt will be the constant pressure he’ll be under, the medical world is not inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to a Tory health secretary.

Overall, this Cabinet is stronger in terms of communication. But it does seem a bit of waste to send Justine Greening, who unlike many Tories relishing scrappy campaigning, to a department where you’d struggle to put a cigarette paper between the policies of the three parties. There are also many who think that a place around the Cabinet table should have been found for Michael Fallon who is an indefatigable defender of Downing Street on the air waves.

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Show comments
  • david

    Hunt at Health! Ed. nip around and measure up for the curtains, ‘yer on ‘yer way son.

    Cameron must be back on the Columbian marching powder.

  • Richard

    Excellent communicators? I guess that is term for being able to tell bare faced lies.

  • Richard

    Excellent communicators? I guess that is term for being able to tell bare faced lies.

  • Alan Eastwood

    Well Osborne has been boxed in by IDS. Mr Forsyth does not tell us that Osborne drew up the list, which was agreed by the inner cabal May, Hague, Osborne and Cameron.
    This leaves the question on the weakness of Cameron who has not got the guts to do anything by himself.
    IDS was offered Justice to remove him from the job he was doing and thus allow Osborne an easy path to cut more from the welfare bill. Now that hope has been dashed.
    Morale will not improve, Boris is already on the warpath, alongwith Zac, Cameron is on another loser on Heathrow. It looks a cabinet of much of the same as far as I am concerned.
    A weak Prime Minister is the real story.

  • Keith

    Hmmm. Baugh replaces Whohe at the Department of Paper clips. It’s all straight out of Private Eye.

  • Scott

    The government needs Fallon in the tent.

    Gove.
    Laws.
    Fallon.
    Hunt.
    Shapps.

    All excellent communicators.

    • ForkedTongue

      Shame they haven’t got a message to sell.

    • George_Arseborne

      Excellent communicators of failed policies?
      Poor little George got booed by 80.000 crowd at the Olympic arena. The Electorate are not that stupid.
      This exercise of reshuffling is same old buddy, forget about communicatirs. We just need a robust economic growth

  • FlyMeToTheMoon

    ‘The departure of Greening and Villiers from Transport paves the way for the Tory side of the coalition at least to commit to doing what it takes to increase aviation capacity in the South East.’

    So no announcements this side of the election, then – but at least the Tories are ‘committing to doing what it takes’, whatever that means.

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