Cabinet reshuffle - the best laid plans....


Update 1pm: Tory pin up and Mayor of London Boris Johnson has condemned the moving of Justine Greening, someone he describes as a 'first rate transport secretary'. He says that her opposition to a third runway at Heathrow - a policy he describes as "simply mad" - is the only possible reason and promises to fight Heathrow expansion all the way

Update: 11.45am: As I was saying... reshuffles never do quite go to plan.

Iain Duncan Smith was meant to be the new Justice Secretary this morning. The Daily Mail carried the story a few weeks ago. I reported the possibility last night. He was, in fact, offered the job by David Cameron last night but this morning said no and asked to be kept in charge of welfare reform.

The Treasury have always regarded IDS nervously, believing that whilst he might be good at the narrative and the caring he's not so good at keeping the pounds and pennies under control.

The Chancellor has announced his ambition to cut welfare by another £10 billion. The man in charge of welfare has told him and the prime minister that unless they cut benefits for the elderly like winter fuel payments, free TV licences and bus passes - which the PM refuses to do - that sum will prove politically impossible to find.

What's more, senior Whitehall officials have long worried that IDS's plan for a new Universal Credit could go the way of the health reforms - ie they sound good in theory but may prove bureaucratic, costly and unpopular in practice.

IDS knows that he's popular with his party as the man who led them in their darkest days and with many who campaign for the poor. That gives him real political power. Today he used it to say No to the prime minister.

The consequence is that the Treasury has another headache on their hands and prison policy will be run by Chris Grayling, someone harder line and more populist than IDS. That may please the Tory grassroots but will horrify many Lib Dems when he promises to take on the human rights culture and lock up more people.

What's already striking about this reshuffle is that it is being used to address Tory weaknesses in the long run up to an election - hence the new soothing presence of Jeremy Hunt at Health, Chris Grayling's harder line at Justice and a new pledge-free Patrick McLoughlin in charge of deciding whether there should be a new third runway at Heathrow.

Tuesday 08:30am: The work of re-shaping the government is well under way - last night David Cameron met with some of those ministers who he is asking to move.

Among them the now former Conservative Party Chairman, Baroness Warsi; former Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Ken Clarke who has agreed to leave his job as justice secretary but is expected to stay in the cabinet as minister without portfolio able to advise, on amongst other things, the economy.

Their moves will be part of a series which will reshape the government's middle and junior ranks. We could see new faces in a host of departments such as health, transport and work and pensions though none of these changes are confirmed.

One mover who is certain is Andrew Mitchell, who is to be the government's new chief whip, and leaves a vacancy at International Development.

The big winners - those promoted because, it is claimed, they will be better administrators or better communicators than those they replace - will march up Downing Street in front of the cameras to hear their good news.

The appointments will, say the PM's aides, prove that the government means business.

The chancellor, who will not be moving, was reminded of the scale of the political challenge the government faces when he was booed at the Olympic stadium last night.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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In just 24 hours, Sir Malcolm Rifkind went from angry defiance to a grim-faced acceptance that he would have to quit his job as an MP and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Dear Nick, why did you just not stay away and keep your left wing ideology on hold for eternity. Socialism under any psuedonym does not work and will never work as long as we have the human failings of greed,envy,and avarice, all of which socialist demigogues have in abundance. Leave it mate, capitalism may not be perfect but it is the better choice. Go on holiday again, leave us alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    If you believed Dave was doomed before the summer recess, has the (re-)shuffle changed that belief?

    If you did not believe Dave was doomed, has his positioned been:
    - strengthened by the reshuffle?
    - weakened by the reshuffle?
    - left unchanged by the reshuffle?

    Oh dear!

    Not really worth making a fuss about ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    NR: 'The Treasury have always regarded IDS nervously, believing that whilst he might be good at the narrative and the caring he's not so good at keeping the pounds and pennies under control.'
    ~ ~ ~
    Maths, statistics and presentation to the media have never been ID-S's strong points.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Is the t BBC is still going with its TAX and SPEND agenda, been listening to R5L to what a joke

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I get the impression the BBC political commentators (e.g. as heard on the today programme) were a bit ignorant when it comes to IDS. From what I gather IDS has spent a lot of time and attention looking at the problem of welfare reform, so I don't know why the BBC didn't mention this and expect him to be reluctant to suddenly change jobs. Isn't welfare reform one of the biggest issues in our time?

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.


    Give it a rest mate. Yes, they suck. Yes, Cameron is no leader and is not fit to be PM. But, cutting public spending by half of one percent is hardly "savage" in anyones language. All this hyperbole isnt helping you to be taken seriously. Nick is just dancing to his former Guardian editing boss's tune and youre just another tub thumping jester in the gallery waving your corn dolly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    A benefit fraudster woulyd find it difficult to find employment of any kind once exposed. Yet we have David Laws being offered, by our Prime Minister, a job in government. Shame on you Cameron for offering it and shame on you Laws for accepting it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Its a strange thing, politics. We can never really ask the people what they want. As McLuhan would have said 'it gets lost in the medium'. However , If people like May still have a position, then, we have no hope for anything. Is it possible for people to be so bad at what they do, and still survive in some form of employment. The English Tea Party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    They can move as Right as they like .......
    but in 2015 they will be voted Wrong!

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    This is a definite move to the right; less green, more authoritarian and arguably pugnacious.

    Grayling to Justice, Owen Paterson to Environment, Greening to DfID, Patrick McLoughlin Clarke to MwithoutP; even Laws recalled.

    Nadine Dorries liked it on Twitter.

  • Comment number 151.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    #147 find the question on imigration policy then, as this is a major issue that has been hushed up under the banner of racism ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    What a mess. Can't we have an election NOW, yep that would bring in Millipede. So whats wrong with a Government of NATIONAL UNITY. Bring the the best and brightest of all political stripes, men and women who would work in the absolute best interests of the nation. Captain Smith, (oops I mean Cameron) That spoilt twit Gidion and the rest of these fools are just re-arranging the deckchairs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    141. Soothseeker
    On the other hand soothy it could be argued that the majority of the media are rolling their eyes over the debacle that is this Tory led coalition. Are you content with policies that protect the wealthiest while we see savage cuts to essential services, worsening living standards for the poor and economic policies that are a proven failure?

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    "They (the BBC) never asked searching questions of the labour governement over 13 years like they have the last 2.5 years."

    They asked lots of questions, particularly re Iraq, but Labour never managed a weekly farce like the Tories. Even diehard Tory friends call Cameron a liability. The Tories think they have a God given right to run this country but don't realise they don't have the ability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    The reshuffle won't change their attitudes towards the voters - they should all go......

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Far more practical to build a Heathrow replacement in the Oxfordshire, I would suggest Witney, area. Its most prominent resident could lead by example as he has said people should stop being NIMBY's. Better than BoJo's choice for allowing passengers traveling elsewhere in the UK. Green Belt reform will allow the building of a dedicated rail terminal which can include a direct link into London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I wonder how long we will have to wait before Hunt lays out his plans to continue the destruction of the NHS. Note to everyone who pays for newscorp publications or media. Are you now helping to fund this destruction more than ever?

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    #142 since 1997 there has een a massive hike in the licence fee it si no wonder that they support labour.

    They never asked searching questions of the labour governement over 13 years like they have the last 2.5 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    #99 yeah and we as licence payers are paying for it too

    Yes - Let's hope the new MInister for Culture, Media & Sport sorts out the BBC bias & money wasting by launching an investigation into all BBC monopoly, activities, pay, tax etc?
    There is also the not so small matter of the IDS complaint about BBC's 'economic reporting' about UK now becoming a 3rd world country etc


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