I thought I’d dust off the old crystal ball and take some shots in the dark about what might happen in the Cabinet Reshuffle. I have absolutely no basis in fact, whispers or otherwise for what I’m about to say, but I thought it might be fun.
Let’s take the Liberal Democrat contingent first:
Nick Clegg – He’ll stay as Deputy PM with responsibility for political reform. Let’s face it, he actually did deliver on the AV referendum. Sadly the Yes campaign was so pathetic that we didn’t get any reform in place. And he tried on Lords reform but was stopped in his tracks by two conservative parties.
Danny Alexander – interesting. If I were Nick, and I cared about Danny’s political future which I assume he does, I might be inclined to shift him, to get him away from the job where he always has to say no to people and make unpopular announcements. Chief secretary is a bit like being the treasurer of a campaign. You have everyone in the whole world asking you for money which you don’t have. No matter how good you are at your job,
What to do with him, though? Not any of the jobs which are devolved in Scotland, so not health or education or justice. He could do a straight swap with Ed Davey at Climate Change. If he did that, he could cover himself in lots of nice Liberal Democrat green action and recharge his progressive credentials.
The one issue with him at Climate Change is that he’d then effectively be the Secretary of State for wind farms. He does have a gorgeous, unspoiled highland constituency, mind you ,but the Scottish Government has responsibility for wind farm planning. However, he might have ideas about how you deliver renewables while preserving the countryside, so it might work.
He’ll most likely stay where he is, though.
Michael Moore – at Christmas I might have said very sadly that his coat was, as they say up here, on a shoogly peg. The Scotland Bill looked dead in the water as Labour and Tories at Westminster and the SNP at Holyrood whinged about it. He was consistently on the bottom of Liberal Democrat Voice’s popularity list.
Since then, his decency and reasonableness have won the day. He started the year with a supreme showing in the Commons
which caught the SNP on the back foot. He delivered the Scotland Act with precisely none of the six changes the SNP Government had demanded. If he were to be moved or punted out, I would be so furious. He’s done a job which has required skill and diplomacy extremely well. I sometimes wish he’d be a little less cautious and just take the obvious opportunities to deliver a crushing one liner, but that probably means I’m not as grown up as he is. I think he will stay where he is because he’s the guy to deliver an agreement with the SNP in time on the referendum process.
Quite a few people think he’ll be moved to make way for Alistair Carmichael or Jo Swinson. Alistair is the perfect whip, so I can’t imagine Nick letting him move from there even if he wanted to. Jo is just settling into her role as PPS with an overview of Government policy. I think this is a good and sensible for her to be so I’d kind of like her to stay there. She could go to Equalities at the Home Office
Ed Davey – there are three possibilities with him. A swap with Danny at the Treasury staying where he is, or going back to BIS to replace Vince. More about that idea later.
Vince Cable – now, he’s the most popular guy in the Liberal Democrats at the moment. at least according to Liberal Democrat Voice surveys.
I adore Vince like everyone else, but I think that anyone who thinks he’d still enjoy such universal acclaim if he were leader is naive in the extreme. However, it would be a very foolish Deputy Prime Minister who turfed Vince out of Cabinet, so there’s two options for him. If Osborne moves away from the Treasury, Vince might get the Chief Secretary’s job. That would leave Ed Davey to come back to BIS and Danny to Climate Change.
Now for the Tories. There are a few people I want to see propelled to the back benches so fast their feet don’t touch the ground. Sayeeda Warsi is a liability. What has she actually contributed to the Government? If she goes, Cameron will need to appoint a new party chairman. He could do worse than bring in someone like Esther McVey to that role. It would be a lot of fun for us, however, if he appointed Jacob Rees-Mogg, posher than posh itself, to lead what’s supposed to be a modern Conservative party. I can dream, can’t I?
Andrew Lansley has made a right cod of health and needs shooing out the door for a fresh face. This might well be Justine Greening, likely to be ejected from her transport role to let in someone who loves building runways at Heathrow.
The third person I want rid off is the Tory Chief Whip, Patrick McLoughlin. We have delivered votes on things that our lot have found horribly difficult cos it was in the national interest that we voted that way, to deliver a stable government at a pretty crap time to be in power, let’s be honest.The Tory chief whip could not even get his lot to vote for members of the House of Lords to be elected. He needs to be replaced by someone who actually has some powers of persuasion. Rudimentary ones would be a start.
Oh, and while we’re at it, Lord Strathclyde can sling his hook as well.
This has become less like guesswork and more like a wishlist. I reckon Warsi and Lansley are out on their ears. Jeremy Hunt should be with them, but I suspect he’ll hang around because the Tories like him.
Now, what about David Laws. Nobody thinks he won’t get a job. But if he does, one of ours has to go. It can’t be Lynne or Sarah who have both done amazing work. He may get to attend Cabinet but come in at Minister of State rank to float about doing useful stuff. I’m not sure I want him writing economic policy, to be frank, but because he talks Tory, he could do a lot to make the Government work better.
I still haven’t said who I’d get rid of. A few months ago it would have been Paul Burstow over the health reforms, but he has redeemed himself with good work on social care and mental health. I’m not entirely convinced that Lord McNally has added that much value to the Government so I guess it would be him.
So, come back here when it’s all over and have a good laugh at how wrong this all is.