Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt


IT is in the nature of reshuffles that they tend to generate more interest from within the political establishment than they do from the wider public - especially those confined mainly to junior ministerial ranks.

Nevertheless they usually contain interesting pointers to the direction of travel of a party or government, and this week's were no exception.

Prime Minister David Cameron carried out a shake-up which appeared designed to reward the friends of George OsborSne, seven days after the Chancellor's party conference speech had put him back in the running for the Tory succession.

By contrast, the few remaining buddies of Tony Blair who remain at the political top table fared less well, with Ed Miliband's Labour reshuffle consigning the likes of Stephen Twigg, Jim Murphy and Liam Byrne to, if not quite the outer darkness, certainly the fringes of the Shadow Cabinet.

The government reshuffle first, then. Mr Cameron is known to hate moving his ministers around more than is absolutely necessary, and as such it was probably telling that the only full-scale Cabinet casualty was a Liberal Democrat.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore made way for his party's erstwhile chief whip, Alastair Carmichael, who it is reckoned will mount a more robust defence of the union in the forthcoming battle over Scottish independence. For my part, I think they could have done better here by giving the job to a real Scottish political heavyweight like the former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

Instead, he quietly announced he would be stepping down as an MP in 2015, joining his near-contemporary Sir Alan Beith in what, for both men, is a well-earned retirement.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg also sprang a surprise by replacing the highly-rated Jeremy Browne at the Home Office with Norman Baker, a move which appears to have provoked something close to blind fury among some Tory-supporting journalists and bloggers.

The main objection they advanced against Mr Baker's elevation appears to be that he wrote a book in 2007 claiming that Dr David Kelly was murdered, but given that most normal people I speak to seem to agree with this, I hardly think it will affect the new minister's standing with the voters. …

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