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, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.


    A majority of people think the national debt is declining when of course it is growing (and was intendeded to grow, even on initial budgetary plans)..

    I suppose booing European economic decline is understandable, but that is not an economic policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Those rude enough to boo George Osborne at the paralympics should be ashamed of themselves.

    He's a genuine gold medal hope for us in the 'Chancellors lacking a basic understanding of business and economics' event (the final is live tonight on Channel 4, l believe) and as such we ought be getting off his back and right behind him.

    Go GO, go go GO!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Sorry to see Mitchell move on from international development - he seemed like an OK guy.

    His new job seems somewhat at odds with his old job - not a lot of compassion in the Whips office.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    No.15 The body of the economy is fitting, sudden apparently unexplained movements should not be confused it flourishing. The people booing Osborne last night know this (c.f with Ceaușescu's last public appearance). To clear up the shuffle v reshuffle confusion:- When Cameron formed the Government he shuffled so now reshuffle is appropriate but alas the 'pack' is not the same - a flawed concept.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    #16 Labour's "recovery" was based on unustainable borrowing before a General Election..

    Tory borrowing is also unsustainable.

    The coalition increased current expenditure in its first year, when it should have cut it. Too slow, too shallow.

    (and, by the way, cut £5 billion from the aid budget)

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Is Clegg being asked about the reshuffle ?? Is Danny Alexander going to be moved (my local MP who I think is the most hated man in the highlands at the moment). Like others have said Labour had started a recovery in the economy (albeit small), this government has destroyed that yet will blame Labour, the Jubilee, the weather, the Olympics and …… insert next excuse for next month.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    There is a European economic crisis, and usual anti-Tory rhetoric is insular and unreflective.

    "Eurozone manufacturing contracted for the 13th consecutive month in August, as exports in Germany fell at the steepest rate in three years.

    The figures contrasted with more encouraging manufacturing numbers from the UK"

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Why is the BBC not covering George Osbourne being boo-ed?? That is a huge story that accurately reflects public sentiment! Instead the BBC just allow him a platform to smugly say that anyone in his post wouldn't be liked at this time - ignoring that fact that most people I speak to don't like the useless, out of touch and smug bullingdon boys getting jobs through the old boys network.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    At least a reshuffle is an acknowledgement they got it wrong...!

    Unfortunately a reshuffle isn't the answer. They still remain an unelected government, carrying out policies no-one agreed to.

    The general public is fed up, and until public faith and goodwill is restored, people will continue to "not spend"... and the economy will continue its sad slow downward spiral.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Jideram, the Bullingdon buffoons may shuffle out the door, but would you prefer the Balls up the last government made to be repeated? I think not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Until Cameron has the guts to sack Gideon and appoint someone with a less rudimentary understanding of economics and a pragmatic, rather than politcally dogmatic, approach the entire reshuffle is worthless.

    Osborne is way out of his depth. Why should the rest of us have to drown with him just to preserve his friendship with Cameron?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Does keeping Ken Clarke as a minister without portfolio signal a shift to the right in the forthcoming appointments? Some attempt to keep balance in the cabinet on the Conservative side and try to prevent the last two and a half years simply being a slanging match between the Libdems and Conservative ministers carried out by press leak.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    This reshuffle isnt going to improve the econmy one bit. The architects of the double dip are still in power. Remember the economy was in recovery when this bunch of posh spivs took over. As No.8 says if people arent in secure jobs they wont spend. How come i knew this back in 2010 and economists didnt?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    The only way to get the economy moving is to get more people into permanent jobs that provide security for them and their families. Then they will be able to spend. The only way we will get that is if we rework the business tax system so it rewards companies for creating permanent jobs, but gives them no reward for agency, temp or bank staff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The only shuffle that will really matter will be when the Bullingdon Buffoons shuffle out the doors of 10 & 11 Dowing St. for the last time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    So now we have three wise men concentrating on the economy: Judd, Ken, and Vince. Wonder how Judd feels about that. Dave's clearly frustrated with Obdurate George, unless he's beginning to have doubts over his ability. Well, the rest of us have known for a while, so even Dave was bound to cop on eventually.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    No short term plans, no long term plans. Most of them have little or no idea of what is going on in the country at large, only exception being Vince Cable who gets out and about and goes into real businesses, but no one listen to him. No business growth strategy = no jobs, so a stagnating economy. Let's hope that some of the new faces have advisors from outside the Westminster village for a start

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    The most important change, that of chancellor, is not happening! The changeover, though apparently significant, falls well short of my expectations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Simplest way to get the economy moving - get the banks to lend to small businesses. How do you make them take the risk? Government guaranteeing all business development loans under £1million that meet certain criteria.
    I've been saying this for 10 months now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    They just don't have a clue what to do - No Business Growth Plan - No Healthcare Plan - No Import / Export Strategy - No Education revitalisation Plan - No Elderly Care Strategy - No Employment Revitalisation Strategy etc. etc.

    up the creek without a paddle

    David Laws is being brought back

    He might be a crook, but he's a pal of Nicks

    It's business as usual at Crooks Incorporated


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