George Osborne has told Andrew Marr this morning that the reshuffle is ‘not far away’ and that he is staying put. As we said in this week’s magazine leader, reshuffling a Chancellor half way through a parliament would be a major admission of defeat, and for little practical gain.
The main issue for the Prime Minister to face now is how the public will react if popular figures are reshuffled. One by one, all of the reshuffle targets have fought their corner through the press. Ken Clarke, Justine Greening, Jeremy Hunt, Baroness Warsi and today Vince Cable have all made made their case publicly to stay where they are.
But which ministers do the public want moved on? Polling in today’s Sunday Times asks which figures in government they perceive as an asset and which as a liability. As the chart below shows, David Cameron and William Hague have the highest ratings as assets, while Nick Clegg and George Osborne have the most votes for being a liability:
This shows why the reshuffle is unlikely to change much for the government: those considered the worst liabilities are those least likely to be moved on. Christopher Meyer tweeted yesterday that ‘few things excite the political class more than reshuffles. Few things stir up apathy more in the general population than reshuffles.’ The polling suggests it is increasingly unlikely that reshuffle will provide a popularity bounce for the government. That responsibility rests solely with the Chancellor.Tags: Andrew Marr Show, Autumn reshuffle 2012, George Osborne, Philip Hammond, UK politics, Vince Cable