Sir George Young’s appointment as chief whip is testament to both the respect David Cameron holds him in and the Prime Minister’s intense dislike of reshuffles. This is the second time that Cameron has asked Young to step in after a colleague has imploded, the first time was in 2009 when Alan Duncan was caught complaining about how MPs were ‘treated like shit’ and ‘forced to live on rations’. I suspect, though, that one thing that marked Young out this time was that his appointment would not require any other changes in the government ranks.
Sir George is one of the politest people that you’re ever likely to meet. I suspect that the reason that Number 10 is unconcerned about promoting an Old Etonian just after a row about whether his predecessor called a policeman a ‘pleb’ is that no one could conceive of Sir George doing this. He might ride a bike but I very much doubt that there’ll be anything other than cordial ‘good mornings’ with the officers at the gate.
But he’ll face a real challenge to restore discipline to the parliamentary party. Having had a front row seat as Leader of the House for the Lords rebellion, he’ll be acutely aware of just how difficult his new job is going to be.