++ Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes replaces Lord McNally as Justice Minister

Simon HughesNews just in:

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes has replaced Lord (Tom) McNally as the Liberal Democrat Minister of State for Justice.

Lord McNally has been appointed as the new Chair of the Youth Justice Board, a post which he will take up in mid-March 2014. Simon Hughes will take over as Justice Minister with immediate effect.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Tom McNally has been a fantastic minister who has pushed through a Liberal agenda in the Ministry of Justice. He will now bring the same wisdom, experience and effectiveness to his new role helping young offenders to turn their lives around.

“I am delighted to welcome Simon to the Liberal Democrat Government team. He has been a passionate voice for the party’s principles and values throughout the Liberal Democrats’ journey from party of opposition to party of Government.

“Simon will now be able to use his talents inside the Coalition, helping the Liberal Democrats to anchor the Government in the centre ground and helping us to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.”

Simon Hughes said:

“It is a privilege and a huge responsibility to be appointed to this important job in Government.

“Issues of justice and civil liberties have been my passions since I was a teenager. Justice and civil liberties are also core issues for every Liberal Democrat in the country.

“I hope that my experience, training and work on human rights from my time at university and in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, as a practising barrister for several years before I was elected to the Commons, and over all my time as a Member of Parliament, will stand me in good stead for this job.

“Lord McNally will be a hard act to follow, but I will try and build on his significant achievements and wish him the very best in his important new role.

“I look forward to working in the Ministry of Justice and to contributing energetically to progressive and successful decisions and policies for the fairer and safer society which every Liberal Democrat wants to achieve.”

Lord McNally said:

“It has been an enormous privilege to serve as Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice over the last three and a half years. I believe we have demonstrated that the Coalition can work effectively in taking the tough decisions imposed by economic circumstances while pursuing a radical reform agenda.

“I look forward to the opportunity to build on a decade of success tackling the causes of youth offending. It is a challenge I look forward to with real enthusiasm.”

This will be a challenging role for Simon, who now has to deal with the Legal Aid changes so heavily criticised by many Liberal Democrats, and opposed at Conference in Glasgow. Will his popularity with activists survive? McNally’s defence of the changes and support for secret courts led to his consistently low rankings in our Members’ surveys.

Interestingly, Simon has already spoken out against certain of these changes, although the government did later rethink that particular part.

Our Stephen Tall had this to say on Twitter.

Also reported by the Guardian is the information we’ve known for some time, that Jenny Willott is replacing Jo Swinson as business minister while Jo goes on maternity leave. Jo’s baby is due a week today, on Christmas Day.

Update: Hat tip to Charlotte Henry

, who was watching Tim Farron’s Twitter feed more carefully than we were, but we now know that Simon will standing down as Deputy Leader.

The Deputy Leader is chosen by MPs. Who could be in the running? What about all round good egg and recently sacked Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore?

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20 Comments

  • Good luck to his Civil Servants in the his private office. Especially good luck to his diary manager who will have to master the fact that Simon can be in more than one place at any one time.

  • Congratulations to Simon and best wishes to Tom.

    We’ve punched below our weight on justice issues throughout our time in Government. Not just about one person, but hoping Simon can get to grips with the issues quickly.

    It doesn’t make any sense to say that we are a party of Government but our Deputy can’t serve in Government (if there is any role where that’s true – I don’t believe there is – it’s the President) so hope he’ll make his decision about whether to continue as Deputy based on how much time he can commit to the role and the relevant workload.

  • Maybe good news for the Government, but less so for Lib Dems as a party.

    For the duration of the Coalition, Simon, alongside Tim, have spoken for the Lib Dems. Our Ministers have not been able to speak so freely. Both Simon and Tim have done pretty much all of the work of speaking on behalf of the Lib Dems. Considering how difficult that job is, both have done really rather well. I am very worried that now it is just Tim left.

  • Now his hands are tied. And his ability to criticise limited. Basically a sell-out!
    At least we still have Tim and hopefully he can lead us in 2015.

  • Seems a rather odd appointment to me to be honest with you and I am surprised that Simon has accepted this role at this point in time.
    18 Months before the next General Election, Liberal Democrats need to be distancing themselves away from the coalition and especially from the Tory Party. To do that the Liberal democrats are going to need the biggest hitters from within the party to speak out against the current government.

    Simon has now allowed himself to be castrated by becoming part of the “cabinet collective responsibility”

    I really do not understand how this party has allowed themselves to be out flanked and out maneuvered time and time again by the Tory Party.
    First with Cable being in charge of Tuition Fee’s rise and being dumped on the front line,
    Now Simon Hughes as justice Minister who will be forced to defend what no doubt is going to be some very unpopular policies, especially among Lib Dem grass roots.

    Utter Madness.

    I can’t help thinking conspiracy theories, that there are dark forces at work within the party who are deliberately trying to bring the party down,
    Maybe that Cleggy never really tore up his Conservative membership card from his Uni days

  • Now Simon Hughes as justice Minister who will be forced to defend

    massive cuts in legal aid ??

  • Mick Taylor 18th Dec '13 - 9:10pm

    Goodness me what utter tripe.

    You are condemning Simon even before he gets his feet under the ministerial desk.

    It is possible to do radical things as a minister and Simon may well surprise all you cynics. A ministerial change is of course a time to change policy and I suspect we may well see some new thinking in Justice with Simon there.

    Give the lad a chance before rushing to shout betrayal.

  • @acgn

    So just being in a position to do something is now selling out?

  • Mick Taylor 18th Dec ’13 – 9:10pm and ATF 18th Dec ’13 – 10:55pm

    No I don’t think that is the point.
    It is not a criticism of Simon Hughes but as I read his comment (matt 18th Dec ’13 – 4:30pm) it was a criticism f the tactics of the party in Coalition. He specifically said “I really do not understand how this party has allowed themselves to be out flanked and out maneuvered time and time again by the Tory Party.”

    That is not a criticism of Simon for “selling out”.
    Similarly disappointment at David Heath taking the blame for shooting Badgers was not criticism for “selling out”.

    By accepting the nonsense of “Cabinet responsibility” we had the stupid situation where Liberal Democrat ministers have defended Tory policies they do not believe in and have been tarred with the Tory brush.

    Similarly, the ridiculous habit of playing the parliamentary game by repeatedly calling Tory MPs and ministers “MY HONOURABLE FRIEND” does not go down well and politically self-defeating. There is nothing worse than seeing one of our people in the Lords refer to Tebbit as “MY HONOURABLE FRIEND”. It amazes me that some people cannot see the damage that this does with our voters.

  • Mick Taylor 19th Dec '13 - 7:45am

    @John Tilley

    It is precisely the point. Matt is one of a number of people who contribute to Lib Dem voice who believe being in government is a betrayal, because the Lib Dems can’t deliver pure, undiluted Lib Dem policy. Actually working with another party and doing what is right for the country is portrayed as selling out, almost regardless of the policy in question.

    What I want to know from these purists is just how they expected the Lib Dems to go from 65 years in opposition to government without being in some kind of coalition government? Anywhere else in Europe coalition government is a necessary part of the political process and compromises are made to enable government to carry on. Parties do deals with different parties at different times. Yet here in the UK the Lib Dems are condemned for being Tories. Of course if we were in coalition with Labour we’d similarly be accused of being socialists!

    So, no. Simon is selling out or betraying his principles. I expect him to do a great job with his usual radical flair.

  • @Mick Taylor

    “It is precisely the point. Matt is one of a number of people who contribute to Lib Dem voice who believe being in government is a betrayal”

    Please do not presume to speak for me Mick because that is not what I think at all.

    My criticism was not against Simon Hughes, In fact I quite like and admire Simon Hughes, apart from his position on gay marriages, but that is beside the by, on a whole I think he is a decent bloke who was a good voice for those on the left of the party that needs someone like him to speak out.

    My criticism was about the tactics of this position.

    In my opinion by becoming part of the government Simon Hughes will now be castrated by the restraints of collective responsibility.
    The party will lose this big character who at this time, 18 months out from an election, should be being vocal and distancing themselves from this coalition and indeed the Tories if they are going to stand any chance of putting up a decent fight in 2015 and holding on to any seats.

    I was in No way hinting at the capabilities of Hughes in the Role of Justice Department.

    I was pointing out the fact that it was a bad move tactically at what is a critical time for the Liberal Democrats.

  • Mick Taylor 19th Dec ’13 – 7:45am
    ” doing what is right for the country ”

    Mick, I do not regard a new generation of nuclear power stations, the bedroom tax, shooting badgers, etc as ” doing what is right for the country “.
    I do not think the Coalition is ” doing what is right for the country ” by propping up the criminals in the banking world who wrecked the world economy.
    I might have been able to stomach some of the worst aspects of the Coalition if Liberal Democrats had got something in return such as the Reform of the House of Lords. But this week we have had the ludicrous sight of Clegg writing in ‘The Mirror’ saying – “wouldn’t it be nice if we couldreform the Lords” as if he had not been the Deputy Prime Minister with personal responsibility for doing just that.

  • Mick Taylor 19th Dec '13 - 6:20pm

    Matt. I accept your word for it, but that’s not how it sounds.

    John Tilley. Where would our economy be if the government hadn’t taken the action it has to mend what Labour left behind? That’s the bit about doing what’s right for the country.

    Of course one would like to see more bankers in jail, no nuclear power stations and no badger cull. We would have had none of those things if we had a majority, but we make up just 56 MPs to the Tories 303. Get real

  • Mick Taylor 19th Dec ’13 – 6:20pm
    John Tilley. Where would our economy be if the government hadn’t taken the action it has .. ?

    Well our economy might be in a better place. That is the view of Paul Krugman (that guy with a nobel prize for economics) writing in the New York Times. December 18, 2013.

    The Three Stooges Do Westminster
    A couple of weeks ago I tried to get at what’s wrong with the latest tactic of the austerians in terms of a classic Three Stooges scene. Curly is seen banging his head against the wall; when Moe asks why, he replies, “Because it feels so good when I stop.”

    As Simon Wren-Lewis tries to explain, this is exactly the basis of the Cameron government’s triumphalism now that UK GDP is growing again.

    The basic fact of UK economic performance since the financial crisis is that it has been terrible — in fact, as the NIESR documents, GDP performance has been substantially worse than during the Great Depression:

  • Mike Falchikov 20th Dec '13 - 11:13am

    John Tilley’s comments about using the terms “My Hon.Friend” etc. prompted my response . I have always found the
    terms in which MPs refer to each other in this way as unbelievably silly and meaningless, adding to the essential unreality of the so-called “Palace of Westminster”. In the Scottish Parliament, members address each other as Mr./Mrs/Ms etc and sometimes by first name and surname without the title, even sometimes by first name. This is how normal people having a discussion address each other and the roof hasn’t fallen in at Holyrood as a result. If this normal form of address can’t be adopted by agreement, then I suggest the Lib Dem parliamentary party takes a unilateral decision to adopt it and see what happens. I suspect Mr.Speaker Bercow would not be totally unsympathetic. Anyway, what can be more ridiculous than that is apparently only possible to address and MP by
    name when he/she has misbehaved – named and suspended I believe is what happens – completely daft!

  • John Tilley says:

    Well our economy might be in a better place

    On the other hand our econo^my might not.

  • Martin 20th Dec ’13 – 1:20pm

    I cannot fault your logic there, Martin. Do you have a nobel prize in economics as well? I was quoting Paul Krugman -
    http://www.salon.com/2013/12/20/paul_krugman_austerians_are_like_the_three_stooges/

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