All change as Cameron reshuffles the Coalition Cabinet

The new Cabinet is beginning to take shape with ministers who've been demoted, moved sideways or axed learning their fate this morning.


The new Cabinet is beginning to take shape with ministers who’ve been demoted, moved sideways or axed learning their fate this morning – as their successors lace up their boots and prepare to ascend the ministerial ladder.

The biggest losers so far are Baroness Warsi, Caroline Spelman and Cheryl Gillan, sacked as Tory co-chairman, environment secretary and Welsh secretary respectively.

Ken Clarke moves from justice secretary to minister without portfolio, Andrew Mitchell moves from international development secretary to chief whip, and Andrew Lansley moves from health secretary to Leader of the House.

Chancellor George Osborne, foreign secretary William Hague, home secretary Theresa May, business secretary Vince Cable, education secretary Michael Gove, and work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith remain in post.

Moving up are Jeremy Hunt, from culture secretary to health secretary, and Chris Grayling, from employment minister to justice secretary, with transport secretary Justine Greening also set to move.

Another figure tipped for promotion is David Laws, widely expected to return to government, most likely at the expense of education minister Sarah Teather, one of the few Lib Dems being reshuffled out of government.

However, despite all the excitement, Mr Cameron shouldn’t count on a reshuffle bounce; as Steve Richards points out in the Indy, “it’s not the names that matter but the policies”:

Over the past three decades, only two reshuffles have made a profound difference to the fate of a government.

When Gordon Brown brought back Peter Mandelson in 2008, he made it almost impossible for Blairite dissenters to remove him, a game-changing move. And in 1981, Margaret Thatcher purged her Cabinet of the dissenting “wets” and elevated like-minded allies such as Norman Tebbit. Off she went after that, though not as fast as the Coalition in terms of radical evangelism.

Until her final years, Thatcher had a genius of knowing when she had the space to be assertive and when she needed to be more cautious. In the late summer of 1981, as Labour fell apart, she knew she had the space.

The mistake of Cameron, Osborne and Clegg was not to recognise that they danced precariously on a tiny, cluttered stage in the summer of 2010, with the backdrop of a hung parliament and the epoch-changing financial crisis. They needed to behave with expedient humility. Instead, they acted as if they had all the space in the world to complete the Thatcherite revolution.

Nothing they do this week can re-write what they did in the summer and autumn of 2010, not least because they do not want to change the script. The dark days of another autumn are on their way.

We will have more analysis of the challenges facing the new ministers later today and tomorrow on Left Foot Forward.

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