Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Osborne gets the spoils..

Good morning. George Osborne gets the spoils in the reshuffle coverage. The advance of his supporters is given prominence - 'Osborne loyalists edge nearer cabinet' says the FT - with the papers noting his success in placing those loyal to him in key positions. "The spectacle of Mr Osborne's acolytes rising through the ranks reinforced the view of many Tory MPs that their only route to promotion is by befriending the Chancellor,' according to the FT. The other line that stands out is Theresa May's reaction to the appointment of Norman Baker to her team. She is said to be spitting tacks, not least because she wasn't consulted. I mentioned this in my blog yesterday, but even after a brief night's sleep, why Nick Clegg chose to give Jeremy Browne's job to Norman Baker is a bit of a mystery. The Lib Dem leader was unhappy with the way Mr Browne let himself be used as a doormat by Mrs May. He wants someone in the department who can be more vocal in standing up to her on civil liberty issues. But it doesn't follow that Mr Browne should be replaced by one of those green-ink cranks who make public life so interesting.
Mr Baker may be admirable as a campaigner for cyclists and other marginal issues, but to put him in the Home Office is to legitimise the views of someone who, as Nick Watt helpfully details in the Guardian, not only took a year out to try to prove that David Kelly was killed by a shadowy government-backed conspiracy, but who at one point suggested that Robin Cook too may have been done in by the secret state. The betting must be that the department, both ministers and officials, will give Mr Baker a wide berth. It will be difficult for him to command the respect of those whom by implication he associates with murder. I struggle to see how Mr Baker will be taken seriously by Mrs May or anyone else for that matter on the big issues that are so important to Mr Clegg. The Home Secretary is a dominant force in the Cabinet. Ministers speak with awe and fear of the way she runs her department. she is not to be trifled with. By landing her with Mr Baker, and not troubling to tell her, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg will have made her angry. And you don't want that.
While Labour sources are keen to avoid the reshuffle being viewed through the old Blair-Brown lens, the papers generally take a different view. Patrick Wintour in the Guardian describes "a ruthless Ed Miliband" and "the demotion of the three leading Blairites". The Sun brand it the "Blair ditch project", noting that Liam Byrne, Jim Murphy and Stephen Twigg all supported David's leadership bid. We argue that, "by reshaping his team in the image of his conference speech, Mr Miliband has provided further evidence that Labour is now an out-and-out party of the Left." Dan Hodges thinks that "the biggest impact will be on Labour’s fragile, and mythical, unity." But to Rachel Sylvester in the Times, Labour's reshuffle was about promoting a new generation, and was not designed to please Len McCluskey.
Several commentators, including Mary Riddell, also note the success of Andy Burnham's rearguard action clinging onto his post at Health. His battle with Jeremy Hunt has become increasingly personal, with Mr Hunt yesterday writing a letter to Mr Burnham, saying that "I do not doubt your personal integrity" in response to a letter from Mr Burnham's lawyers.
On the Tory side, the rise of Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid, Greg Hands Amber Rudd and Claire Perry made it a very good day for Osborne loyalists . As James Kirkup notes, "The rise of the Osbornites will doubtless set off more chatter about Mr O as a potential leadership contender. But perhaps more significant is the undertone of resentment against the Chancellor’s might among other Conservatives." But, for all the talk about women rising,  only five of the 32 people in the Cabinet are female.
As for the Lib Dems, the most likely suggestion for Mr Browne's departure appears to be that activists were concerned that he was "too right-wing", and there was particular concern among the grassroots about the "Go Home" vans which were unveiled in July. But, given his obvious talents, it still seems rather odd - and that's before you even consider his replacement. 
For the Conservatives, the full list of appointments is:
  • Greg Hands confirmed as Treasurer of HM Household
  • Esther McVey appointed as Minister of State (Employment) at Department for Work & Pensions
  • Greg Clark appointed as Minister of State (Cities and Constitution) at Cabinet Office
  • Mike Penning appointed as Minister of State at Department for Work & Pensions
  • Sajid Javid appointed as Financial Secretary to the Treasury
  • Nicky Morgan appointed as Economic Secretary at HM Treasury
  • Andrew Robathan appointed as Minister of State at Northern Ireland Office
  • Matt Hancock appointed as Minister of State for Skills & Enterprise jointly at Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and Department for Education
  • Helen Grant appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Sport and Equalities) at Department for Culture, Media & Sport
  • Hugh Robertson appointed as Minister of State at Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Shailesh Vara appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Ministry of Justice
  • George Eustice appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Robert Goodwill appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Department for Transport
  • Baroness Stowell appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Jane Ellison appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Department of Health
  • Anna Soubry appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Ministry of Defence
  • Kris Hopkins appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Karen Bradley and Sam Gymiah appointed as Whips (Lord Commissioners)
  • Amber Rudd, Claire Perry, Gavin Barwell and John Penrose appointed as Assistant Whips
  • Desmond Swayne appointed as Vice Chamberlain of HM Household (Senior Whip)
  • Gavin Williamson to be new Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
  • Lord Bates appointed as a Lords Whip (Lord in Waiting)
For the Lib Dems, the full list of appointments is:
  • Alistair Carmichael appointed as Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Don Foster appointed as Comptroller of HM Household
  • Baroness Kramer appointed as Minister of State at Department for Transport
  • Norman Baker appointed as Minister of State at Home Office
  • Dan Rogerson appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Stephen Williams appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Baroness Jolly appointed as a Whip in the House of Lords
For Labour, the full list of appointments is:
  • Rachel Reeves appointed shadow work and pensions secretary
  • Liam Byrne appointed shadow higher education minister
  • Vernon Coaker appointed shadow defence secretary
  • Jim Murphy appointed shadow international development secretary
  • Tristram Hunt appointed shadow education secretary
  • Maria Eagle appointed shadow environment secretary
  • Michael Dugher appointed shadow Cabinet Office minister, and also takes charge of political and campaign communications
  • Gloria De Piero appointed shadow minister for women and equalities
  • Emma Reynolds appointed shadow housing minister attending shadow cabinet
  • Stephen Twigg appointed shadow constitutional affairs minister in the justice department
  • Chris Leslie appointed shadow Treasury minister to shadow chief secretary to the Treasury 
  • Ivan Lewis appointed shadow Northern Ireland secretary
  • Mary Creagh appointed shadow transport secretary
  • Douglas Alexander appointed chair of general election strategy (remains shadow foreign secretary)
Nick Clegg will today say that he expects a referendum to be held on Britain's EU membership within the coming years. While reaffirming that he believes it would be "economic suicide" to leave the EU, Mr Clegg will suggest that common ground could be found with the Conservatives on protecting the single market in any future negotiations on the EU. But he will also say that the promise to hold a referendum in 2017 is down to "internal party management" and "The Liberal Democrats believe it will be far better to have the referendum when a serious change to Europe's rules, affecting the UK, next arises." To Donald Macintyre in The Independent, Clegg's assertion of his pro-European credentials is long overdue.
The future of press regulation remains decidedly uncertain after the rejection of the industry's regulatory plans and a lack of agreement over which royal charter to back. The privy council will meet tomorrow but it is expected that any decisions will be delayed until a special privy council on 30 October, as the Guardian reports. The case for newspapers thanking Dave for his efforts but declining to take part in this sorry exercise grows stronger by the day. Fraser Nelson reminds us of the stakes in The Spectator: "What the government is now proposing – and the Privy Council is considering – would be illegal in America where freedom of the press is protected by the First Amendment."
The Treasury Select Committee will today warn that Help to Buy, which launches today, threatens a housing boom. The Commons Treasury select committee will say that Help to Buy, which could underwrite up to £130bn of mortgages, will "raise house prices rather than stimulate new supply", as the FT reports. On the Today programme this morning, Danny Alexander defended the scheme, saying "Our housing market has to be open to a wider range of people."
Fiona Natasha-Syms, the former wife of Robert, is not happy with Dave:
@fifisyms: PM just fired father of my kids over the phone. Gave up chairmanship of a cttee to be a whip, worked hard and was widely acknowledged to be a good whip. He was utterly gracious and took it like a man, I am beyond furious. Loyalty counted for nothing. Luckily for Dave he'll continue to be super loyal.  I'd be fixing up drinks with Afriye, Crouch, Wollaston, Norman. No not really.
In the Telegraph 
Philip Johnston - Does Britain need an FBI?
Best of the rest
Rachel Sylvester in The Times - A shuffled pack doesn’t make a winning hand
Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times - UK eurosceptics are not ready for a fight
Today: Nick Clegg to give a speech on the future of Europe.
9.30am Office for National Statistics bulletin presenting annual statistics on civil partnerships that were formed in the UK in 2012.
10.00am Paul Tucker at Treasury Select Committee. Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.
10.40am Lord Justice Leveson gives evidence to a House of Lords committee on public enquiries
11.00am BBC briefing. Tony Hall briefing on future direction of the corporation BBC New Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London.
2.30pm House of Commons returns from the summer break. The Commons will debate the Report stage for the Lobbying Bill
2.45pm Information Commissioner at Home Affairs Committee. Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

3.30pm Border Force director general Sir Charles Montgomery at Home Affairs Committee. Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.