Wednesday, 5 September 2012
The New Team..
BREAKING: The new Tory Chairman Grant Shapps was just on the Today programme discussing Heathrow expansion, his new role and the cabinet reshuffle.
On Heathrow expansion, he said “we are dooming ourselves to economic failure” if we aren’t open to the debate over Heathrow expansion. Although he said there’s no chance of the Tories breaking their manifesto commitment not to expand Heathrow... in this parliament.
On the reshuffle - and Andrew Lansley’s move, in particular - he said: “eventually people move on”.
On Chris Grayling’s promotion and the shift in policy this could cause, he simply said “people are different”.
On IDS’s refusal to move jobs, he said he could imagine that the PM might suggest that someone who had “done so well” in DWP could be put to good use elsewhere.
On the cabinet as a whole, he said: “This is the team that can deliver”.
Polite applause is the best way of describing reaction across the papers this morning. Some of the detail is admired but the consensus is that moving people won't matter as much as implementing policies: if these are Mr Cameron's doers, then let's see what they can do. Persuading Paul Deighton to come aboard as Minister for Economic Delivery is a coup. And Michael Fallon will be a powerful voice - if you missed it, have a look at his turn with Paxo last night - as Minister for Growth.
As I argue in my column, indecision is our biggest problem, and all the big decisions come back to the Prime Minister: he's the one who has to show he's not a ditherer. There's a consensus that it was a bad day for Nick Clegg (to which a Tory tells the Mail: “who cares?”), and that George Osborne suffered a setback when IDS refused to budge. And we learn that Patrick McLoughlin is afraid of flying.
If you want some good detail you would do worse than reading Nicholas Watt on the Tories and Patrick Wintour on the Lib Dems in the Guardian. Their pieces are full of juicy detail, including the Chancellor's delight that he “got his man” in the shape of Andrew Mitchell (mark my words, there is going to be sport to be had here), Danny Finkelstein's role in scuppering Mr Osborne's cunning plan to shift IDS, and the prospect that Justine Greening will be out for revenge. (A Tory says: "You don't want to cross Justine. She will store this reshuffle away. In years to come she may well exact her revenge.")
But what fascinates Westminster has no resonance beyond. What matters is what the Government does, and we will now focus on tomorrow's plans for announcements from David Cameron and Nick Clegg on the infrastructure and regeneration plans.
Yesterday, curiously, there seemed to be uncertainty in Downing Street over whether they will appear together or separately. As Patrick Wintour points out, “the Rose Garden is now closed until further notice”.
THE PAPERS’ HIGHLIGHTS
Most of the headlines are a variation on the Guardian’s “Cameron’s right turn”, but the i and the Mirror take digs at the PM’s timidity in not moving the big players. The i’s splash reads: “The mouse that roared” and the Mirror’s “SQUEAK!” , which appears next to a rather good photoshop of Mr Cameron dressed as a mouse.
The papers have all picked out similar angles too: Jeremy Hunt’s promotion after the BSkyB saga attracts a lot of attention. The Mail’s big picture of him shrugging his shoulders next to the headline “Happy Hunt shakes off BSkyB cloud” says a lot.
Many conclude that this is evidence that the PM likes to keep his friends close, but in my column I suggest that it’s tempting to see this as the hand of Mr Osborne - transferring a potential rival to a department that is toxic for Tories.
Likewise, IDS’s refusal to move departments has been homed in on as an example of the PM’s weakness. Yesterday, Downing Street was on the defensive about it yesterday, saying it was merely courtesy to a former leader. My view is that the Prime Minister blinked rather than antagonise his already fractious Right wing.
The Heathrow row inevitably drew attention with the removal of Justine Greening as Transport Secretary. Boris Johnson couldn’t help himself - he accused the PM of a covert attempt to back the “mad” third runway plan. You can read more here.
Danny Finkelstein, however, argues that her removal has nothing to do with Heathrow. He says: “It was because, in a very important job, she hadn’t proven the easiest colleague to work with, nor the most impressive.”
A story definitely worth checking out is the Mail’s on the new planning minister Nick Boles who considers countryside campaigners to be Luddites. This one might gather steam.
Michael Deacon’s sketch sums up much of the papers’ attitudes towards the reshuffle:
“To judge by his appointments, the Prime Minister has a keen sense of what voters are thinking. Obviously they’re very happy with the state of the economy, there are loads of jobs about, and business is booming, so no need to change the Chancellor or Business Secretary.
On the other hand, families across the land think of little else but international development and the timetabling of government business in the Commons, so it was vital to get those areas sorted out.”
Our leader gives Dave a chance to prove himself: “Overall, this is not a reshuffle that changes a great deal. It is the Government’s policies that matter, and especially how it proposes to kick-start an ailing economy. Mr Cameron has his new team; now we wait to see what they intend to do.”
Elsewhere, the leaders fall predictably into line - the Mail welcoming the Rightward turn and the Guardian warning against it.
And for those dissatisfied by the papers’ level of geeky Village detail, Bell Pottinger, the lobbying firm, has created a dedicated Reshuffle 2012website. It includes analysis of everything from the possible impact on policy to quirky facts, including:
“DID YOU KNOW?
David Willetts’ ministerial responsibility for the UK Space Agency and the National Measurement Office mean he is the Minister for Space and Time.”
TWEETS AND TWITS
Tom Harris reacts to Tom Chivers’ Telegraph blog discussing the new Health Secretary’s penchant for homeopathy:
“RT @benedictbrogan: Hunt on #homeopathy: Department says 'his views have moved on'. < What, TWO parts in a million? That's an OVERDOSE!”
I think many would agree, Tom.
In The Telegraph
Benedict Brogan: David Cameron's Cabinet reshuffle: What if the real roadblock to recovery is the man at the top?
Allister Heath: Cameron’s musical chairs won’t do anything to mend the economy
Dominic Raab: Hard graft can make Britain great again
Leader: A new team – but the problems don’t change
Best of the rest
Tim Montgomerie in the Mail: Cameron's reshuffle was clever, but will it be enough to revive his premiership?
James Purnell in the FT: Cameron's reshuffle was clever, but will it be enough to revive his premiership?
Daniel Finkelstein in the Times: Obstacles removed. Now get on and govern
Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: What a reshuffle. It's the return of Brown and Blair
Today: Nick Clegg visits a school
Today: Michael Gove gives an update on the number of Academy schools
10am: Boris Johnson gives a speech at a conference on marketing impact of Paralympics. London Media Centre, One Great George Street
11.30am: Cabinet Office
12pm: David Cameron at PMQs
3pm: David Cameron's revamped Cabinet meets for the first time at Downing Street
3.15pm: Home Office Permanent Secretary Dame Helen Ghosh, UKBA head Rob Whiteman and Border Force chief Brian Moore give evidence to MPs on the Public Accounts Committee. Committee room 15, House of Commons, Westminster