Tuesday, 4 September 2012

First thoughts on reshuffle

A minister with South Wales roots and an English constituency has been replaced by a member with a North Wales constituency. The bad news is that a man has replaced one of the few women in the cabinet. Cameron has balanced this by promoting Theresa Villiers from a junior post in Transport to Northern Ireland.

Daran Hill of the Positif consultancy confirms my impression: "History will treat Cheryl Gillan kindly, both for her time as Secretary & Shadow Secretary of State. A decent, kind and effective politician. She has done much for Wales and for her party".

However, the side-lining of women betrays a bias on the part of both David Cameron and Nick Clegg, who, it should be remembered, had to be consulted over the changes in the coalition government.

Ms Villiers did seem to have been a supporter of rail transport. Justine Greening was also an opponent of  concreting over more of southern England. Owen Paterson, who moves to DEFRA from Northern Ireland, is reported to be keen on the Heathrow expansion.

Is Ken Clarke's move to Minister Without Portfolio a sop or will he have real power and thus act as a more business-friendly counter-balance to Osborne? If the latter, then there could be tension as when Harold Wilson set up the Department of Economic Affairs under George Brown.

The news from BBC News Channel has slowed to a trickle, so time to make a coffee and throw something in the oven for lunch.

[Later] It gets worse on the equalities front: see Caron's Musings.

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