Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Norman Baker: a principled decision

Norman Baker's decision to leave the government was a courageous and principled one. No doubt more sidelights will be revealed in the broadcast media coverage during the day, but the Independent was first with the main detail. In fact, he should be applauded for two decisions, the first being to take on the brief at the Home Office in the first place. Both he and Nick Clegg clearly thought he could be an effective liberal presence in a very conservative department of state. Sadly, he was to be disappointed as the exchange of letters printed in the Indy shows. (It is refreshing to see a resignation letter unredacted by the mandarins in the light of the Woolf affair.) Things seem to have come to a head over drugs policy and Mr Baker was ready to go several  months ago. He was persuaded to stay on and possibly anticipated a LibDem reshuffle just before the Glasgow conference in which he could depart. It is good to see that Nick would welcome him back into government after the next election if there is a new coalition.

There are a couple of other LibDem ministers who have taken on briefs with which they ought to be uncomfortable, given that Tory policies have more and more predominated in the last year or so. I trust they will be searching their consciences now. It will be interesting to see if another LibDem really wants to take over the Home Office job.

[Later] Lynne Featherstone returns to the Home Office - see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29899440. At least she knows what she is in for! Presumably she still carries her responsibility for women's matters. There will be no diminution of activity on international development with the appointment of Lindsay Northover, though it is a pity that a MP has been replaced by a peer. In a coincidental move, Lorely Burt moves in to the whip's office as Jenny Willott moves out. Although we have lost a Welsh MP in government, Lorely maintains a Welsh connection through her graduation from Swansea University. Overall, I make it that there has been the minimum move towards sex equality.