What a rubbish week this has been. Nothing has been as bad for me as the passage of the Welfare Reform Bill, a true nadir in the life of this Government, but it’s not good to see one of your own people have to resign from the Cabinet.
Whatever you think of Chris Huhne, and to be honest, I was never his biggest fan for all sorts of reasons, anyone else facing the same charges in any other job would not be sacked until after the Court case. Unfortunately for him, if he’d stayed in post, every time he tried to do something, the media would bring the impending trial up and he’d be completely paralysed. The principle of innocent until proven guilty is an important one and it’s getting lost in all of this.
This post is going to be less furious than I originally thought, but only a little. When I heard this morning on the news that Ed Davey was likely to be promoted into Chris Huhne’s old job and Norman Lamb head for BIS, I was livid. Not because I have anything against either of them – they are two of our brightest MPs, but not the only ones who deserve promotion. Simply, Nick Clegg had the opportunity to do something about the appallingly bad gender balance of the Government.
Of our 20 ministers, only two are women, Lynne Featherstone and Sarah Teather. Why not promote Lynne to the Energy and Climate Change job and replace her with Jo Swinson? Lynne is one of the most successful ministers in the Government. There is a strong argument, however, that she should stay where she is because of that but Jo could easily have taken her place at the Home Office. The Lovely Elephant made the case for promoting our talented women much more eloquently than I could.
Two women have, of course, been promoted as a result of this forced reshuffle, but to behind the scenes posts. Jenny Willott becomes an assistant whip, lurking in the dark shadows with nobody to see her skills except Liberal Democrat MPs, while Jo Swinson moves from being Vince’s PPS at BIS to being Nick Clegg’s. That gives her a much greater overview of Government, but I’d have been much happier to see her with her own profile.
What is the point of promoting diversity, having a fancy Leadership Programme if at every chance you get you give jobs to middle class, middle aged white men?
Actually, when I think about it, I am every bit as furious as I was earlier.