Thursday , December 12 2019
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The Good, Bad and Ugly Pragmatic Reshuffle.

Hello all. I am in the midst of preparing for my “bar exam” (an attorney licensing examination) at the end of the month, so I’ve had less time then I would like to devote to my blog. However, I thought I would give my drive by overall impressions of the reshuffle, which has been very controversial among my right wing brethren to say the least. Some love it, but most on the right are not too enthusiastic about it. Paul Goodman of Conservative Home does a good summary of the right wing media’s reaction, linked here.

I see the shuffle in terms of gray. Some good, some bad, some ugly, but pragmatic. Love to hear any thoughts from you commentators.

The Good

Philip Hammond as Foreign Minister. Absolutely the best move made in a reshuffle in a very long time. Hague, a formerly good politician, was disengaged with politics and almost a ghost when it came to Europe. Hammond however is fantastic, an ambitious right-wing and Eurosceptic Tory. Today he said on Andrew Marr he would vote to leave the EU at the moment and if the renegotiation wasn’t successful he will supporting leaving. This is exactly what the UK needs, someone who represents Britain’s interest to the world independent and skeptical of the EU. Superb Choice.

Michael Fallon at Defence. Mr. Fallon is a fearless man and a strong advocate for Great Britain. He told Vladimir Putin to stop supporting terrorism right when he gets the job. A military leader should be a tough person and Mr. Fallon fits the bill.

Priti Patel as a Treasury Minister. Ms. Patel is a brilliant woman, and is staunchly Conservative. I’ve enjoyed reading her columns on Conservative Home for some time now. She deserved to be a minister. Very happy for her.

Replacing Ken Clarke with Ester McVey. I don’t share in the admiration of Clarke that so many people seem to. I find him nauseating at times and am not sad to see the last Europhile Tory go. I do think McVay is the perfect replacement for him in the Minister without Portfolio role. She’s good at her role as Employment minister, she is articulate (with a Norther accent) and has a great story to tell growing up in inner city Labour Liverpool to now being a “glamourous woman walking through No. 10“. Her future is bright and I am happy for her.

No More Dominic Grieve and the Elevation of Penny Mourdaunt. I am ecstatic that Dominic Grieve is gone, a man who supported the dreadful European Convention on Human Rights. His going clears the way for Conservatives to abandon the EU treaty on Human Rights and work towards a new British Bill of Rights. Further positive news, I am happy to see Penny Mourdaunt elevated to Communities Minister, a woman who is bright, has a military background and is a fantastic speaker as we saw when she gave the loyal address after the Queen Speech.

The Bad

Nicky Morgan as Education Minister. Elevating somebody from Treasury to be Education Secretary when Gove is doing so much good reform? Very head-scratching. What she’ll bring is a mystery. Hopefully she keeps in place Gove’s reforms and keeps most of his people around.

Moving Elizabeth Truss over to Environment/Agriculture to replace the very capable Owen Paterson. I was disappointed with this move. If you were going to replace Gove, Ms. Truss would had made sense, after all she was schools minister. Not sure why Cameron would replace someone like Paterson, who handled the flooding situation this winter well and is loved among rural people with somebody new. If Paterson was replaced at the altar of having a woman for a woman’s sake I think Cameron made a big error here.

Not getting Liam Fox back into the cabinet. In fairness to Cameron, he did offer Fox a job as a foreign officer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one Fox wanted, understandably as he is used to being a front bencher. Now the very experienced and solid Conservative Fox is still a backbencher. Too bad.

The Ugly but Pragmatic. 

If it weren’t for Gove’s and Paterson’s sacking I would love this reshuffle. However, I understand why Crosby wanted the controversial Gove out and more women in, he wants an election team out front that has the best chance to win. However, it is not like Gove is gone, he still will attend Cabinet meeting as Chief Whip and will be a big part of the Tory campaign, he’s even rumoured to be getting a segment called “Grill Gove” on LBC. I do believe he will return to a cabinet after the election though, preferably education again where he has done such a fantastic job.

Overall though, this was a Pragmatic reshuffle. Matthew D’Ancona‘s article on the subject on the Telegraph has it right when he says:

“I once described Cameron as a cluster of paradoxes. He has presided over a radical administration but is not a radical by temperament. Look at his new Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, a man who is so ambitious that he squeaks when he walks, but eschews flamboyance and political theatre for quiet efficiency. Look at Theresa May, a discreet, calmly successful and long-serving Home Secretary, and look at those who have taken her on (Ken Clarke, Dominic Grieve, Gove). She, too, has her eye on the top job.

Cameron may be part-Thatcherite but he is not Thatcheresque. He dislikes crisis and rewards solidity. His buckler is rarely swashed. Unlike Boris Johnson or Michael Heseltine, he does not see politics as a performance art. Like the head prefect, he looms at the door of the dorm and says to his team: I thought I told you lot to pipe down. This reshuffle was not a victory for Left or Right, men or women, but for sturdy Tory pragmatism. It is this which has guided Cameron’s career for 20 years. More to the point, it is this which he believes, with growing confidence, will steer his party to victory next May.”

Hopefully Cameron’s reshuffle leads to victory next year, it was an interesting and bold move.

About Ted Yarbrough

Profile photo of Ted Yarbrough
Ted is the co-founder and editor of the Daily Globe. He is a long-time blogger on British politics and has written a thesis on Thatcherism. He is based in San Diego, California, USA.

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