Government Reshuffle live blog

As I’m going to be doing little else than sip Earl Grey while watching the News channel for reshuffle news, I thought it might be a good idea to have an open thread to cover events. If you want a laugh, you can have a look at the predictions I made last night.

So, what do we know so far?

Well, Andrew Mitchell, the former International Development secretary was last night appointed Chief Whip.

Sayeeda Warsi is not going to be Party Chairman any more.

Ken Clarke is moving from Justice and is expected to have a Minister without Portfolio role to advise on economic strategy amongst other things. Given that his Justice role had him implementing policies that any Liberal Democrat would be proud of, this could be worrying.

Cheryl Gillan is not going to be Secretary of State for Wales.

Caroline Spelman is being tipped to be out as Environment Secretary, but nothing has been confirmed.

The BBC is just talking about how the main casualties of the reshuffle are women.

It’s also worth pointing out that both Warsi and Gillan took to Twitter to announce their changes, Gillan removing “Secretary of State for Wales” from her profile.

We’ll keep you updated during the morning as events unfold.

While we’re waiting for more news, you might be amused by Liberal Democrat minister Norman Lamb’s tweet from last night which simply said:

Not entirely illuminating. I did ask him to elaborate, told him that he could share what he knew with Twitter and we wouldn’t tell anyone, but he didn’t bite.

Stephen Tall writes… (09.32 am)

For the Lib Dems, here are I think the key things to look out for:

1. Cabinet ministers: the working assumption is none of the five — Clegg (DPM), Cable (Business), Davey (Energy & Climate Change), Alexander (Treasury) and Moore (Scotland) — will move.

2. Which post will David Laws get? We know he’s coming back, most likely it seems within the Education department — he was the Lib Dems’ schools spokesman before 2010 — and perhaps as a non-voting cabinet member (a la Oliver Letwin).

3. Who else will be promoted? Jo Swinson seems a certainty. Jeremy Browne and Lynne Featherstone are likely to be moved, but probably to more senior ministerial roles — perhaps the Home Office and Housing or Communities & Local Government respectively?

4. Who will make way for the promoted? Schools minister Sarah Teather seems a likely casualty, spending more time with her marginal constituency. Others who may leave include Lord (Tom) McNally at Justice — a key role with Ken Clarke’s departure — and Andrew Stunell at Communities & Local Government.

Caron back again to report that it’s been confirmed that both Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith are remaining at Education and Work and Pensions respectively.

9:59 am: While we’re waiting for more news, you might want to have a look at Mark Pack’s post from earlier this year – the night of the long beards. What could this mean for David Heath?

10:10 Caron again. I wondered if Danny Alexander might be up for a move. He is currently in a job where he’s required to make many unpopular announcements mainly because of the difficult economic circumstances in which we find ourselves. Anyone who’s ever been Treasurer of anything will understand how frustrating and tough this can be, even if you do your job really well. A couple of years in a job where he could be in charge of implementing a key Liberal Democrat priority might be on the cards for Danny. I stress I have nothing in the way of evidence to back that up, but could he and Ed Davey be on for a job swap?  Climate change would be the only sensible place to put Danny as Vince and Mike Moore seem to be staying where they are. It’s a long shot, but worth more than an idle thought.

Stephen Tall writes… (10.25 am)

A quick reminder of some of LibDemVoice’s polling of party members’ views on the reshuffle:

1) We asked who Lib Dem members want to see stay/axed in the next Cabinet reshuffle here: the most popular Tory was Ken Clarke, long ago labelled the sixth Lib Dem cabinet minister and now sadly shunted out of the Justice department, closely followed by William Hague.

2) We also asked who were top of Lib Dem members’ wish-list for promotion here: Jo Swinson, Julian Huppert and were by some way the most-mentioned.

10:39 Caron writes:

Confirmed appointments:

  • Andrew Lansley moved from Health to be Leader of the Commons
  • Theresa Villiers to Northern Ireland

Confirmed sackings:

  • Edward Garnier as Solicitor General

Chris Grayling and Jeremy Hunt have been seen going in to Downing Street. The BBC were reporting that Hunt could be moved to Health which would be a big promotion for somebody who has attracted such controversy over Murdoch.

There is no news of any Liberal Democrat changes yet.

10:50

Chris Grayling, not a particular fan of the Human Rights Act and the man who said that B and B owners should not be obliged to accommodate gay couples if they didn’t approve, replaces new Justice Secretary.

Justine Greening is now in Downing Street amid speculation that she’ll be removed from Transport for being too opposed to a third runway at Heathrow.

11:08

A smiling Jeremy Hunt emerges from No 10 saying his promotion to Health Secretary is the biggest privilege of his life. Presumably it’s thought that if he could talk his way out of the issues around Murdoch, for which his Special Adviser had to resign, that he could make a better job of convincing people that the NHS reforms are not the end of civilisation as we know it.

11:49

Patrick McCloughlin is to replace the anti third runway Justine Greening as Transport Secretary.

12:15

Mark Pack writes… Interesting change at the Home Office with Theresa May’s woman and equalities brief being taken over by new DCMS Secretary of State, Maria Miller.

As for how to judge the Lib Dem changes when they are all in, here are my four criteria.

12:23

Paul Walter writes… I was tempted to say that this is basically a reshuffle to get rid of people who have cocked things up. But then Jeremy Hunt was appointed Health Secretary….

It would have been good news if Andrew Lansley had left Health well over a year ago. Now, it is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

It is shame that Ken Clarke is leaving Justice, though he was always a bonus for the Lib Dems, and will at least still be in cabinet.

We should take satisfaction that all four Lib Dem cabinet ministers stay as they are, but not too much satisfaction as this reflects the fact that 50% of our post holders – Laws and Huhne – had to leave previously.

12:25

Paul Walter writes… David Jones is the new Welsh Secretary. Adam Boulton of Sky News cheerfully admitted earlier today that he ddidn’t know what Mr Jones looks like. Presumably he has since Googled him….

12:26

Paul Walter writes… Cameron has done quite a skilful job to keep the female/male balance in the cabinet, although still not enough women, by bringing in Maria Miller and Theresa Villiers. Gillan and Spelman left. Warsi is “attending cabinet” but down a peg from what I can see.

12:31

Paul Walter writes… All this is not good news for opposition to Heathrow expansion. Greening was opposed. McLoughlin, who replaces her at transport, is said to be “open minded”.

12:33

Paul Walter writes… Grant Schapps is new Chairman of the Tory party. Hopefully he has changed his password by now (old in-joke – sorry).

12:34

Paul Walter writes… A beaut of a quote from Matthew Parris via the BBC:

Former Tory MP Matthew Parris says that David Cameron is not rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic but on “a rather leisurely cruise around the Mediterranean”

12:40

Paul Walter writes… It has to be barking mad to make a non-lawyer Lord Chancellor and Minister for Justice. Just crazy. But – ho-hum – time will tell.

12:41

Paul Walter writes…We now appear to be moving into the non-cabinet ministry posts. At the moment, all the runes are pointing to Sarah Teather leaving Education and being replaced by David Laws. There is also the likelihood of Jo Swinson coming into government somewhere. It would be good if there was a Lib Dem minister at DEFRA, IMHO. We can all hope…

12:44

Paul Walter again… Esther McVey, Helen Grant and Anna Soubry are tipped for government roles.

12:47

Paul again… The Guardian has a full list of the runners and riders so far here, with the exception of the update that Grant Schapps is the new Chairman of the Conservative Party.

12:50

Paul again… The portfolio of women and equalities portfolio has moved to Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, who also becomes Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. This leaves a question mark over Lynne Featherstone. There was a rumour that Lynne was going to swop roles with Jeremy Browne at the Foreign Office.

12:54

Paul again…The BBC reports that Boris Johnson has said that it shows that the government is committed to the “simply mad” policy of a new third runway at Heathrow. Interesting stuff…

12:56

Paul again…
+++BREAKING+++ Sky sources confirm that David Laws will be Education Minister.

12:59

Paul again….From the BBC:

BBC Wales Political Editor Betsan Powys writes on her blog that, perhaps surprisingly, the new Welsh Secretary is the first Jones in the job.

13:07

Paul again…From the BBC:

Lib Dem MP Andrew George says his party is “reassured” that Ken Clarke is remaining in the cabinet. He says Andrew Lansley has left a “catastrophe” at the Department of Health and he hopes Jeremy Hunt will be a “new broom”.

13:15

Paul again… The indications are that Labour will kick up quite a fuss about Jeremy Hunt’s promotion. One has to ask, does Hunt have some incriminating photos of David Cameron stashed away in a bottom drawer somewhere?

13:31

Paul again… Oliver Heald is replacing Edward Garnier as solicitor general, according to Sky.

13:32

Paul again… Nick Clegg is appearing on TV shaking hands outside the Cabinet Office with David Laws. Nice one.

13:35

Paul again… Zac Goldsmith is not happy with developments concerning the Heathrow expansion issue. He has tweeted:

Greening’s appointment 11 months ago indicated the PM’s position on Heathrow was solid. Yielding so easily suggests panic, not principle.

13:38

Paul again… One glimmer of hope from this reshuffle. Perhaps David Laws will be able to give Michael Gove what for at Education… We can only hope!

13:39

Paul again… Paul Waugh has tweeted:

This is 1st Cabinet for 15 years that lacks a non-white Cabinet minister. What happened to Cam plan to target the ethnic vote?

13:41

Paul again… Mark Ferguson on LabourList highlights some past quotes from David Laws which may indicate that he will be a strong counter-weight to Michael Gove at Education.

Stephen Tall writes… (2.28 pm)

The Prime Minister who reshuffles always upsets the sacked — but David Cameron is also antagonising the current darling of the Tory right, Boris Johnson, who has hit out at David Cameron’s decision to move Justine Greening from Transport seemingly as a prelude to pushing for a third Heathrow runway:

There can be only one reason to move her – and that is to expand Heathrow Airport. It is simply mad to build a new runway in the middle of west London. Nearly a third of the victims of aircraft noise in the whole of Europe live in the vicinity of Heathrow. Now it is clear that the government wants to ditch its promises and send yet more planes over central London.

And another Tory – MP for Richmond Zac Goldsmith – is just as apoplectic:

Zac of course has previously threatened to trigger a David Davis-style by-election if the Tories’ dump another manifesto / Coalition Agreement promise, and also vowed not to re-stand as a Conservative if the party includes a commitment to a third Heathrow runway in its 2015 manifesto.

Stephen Tall writes… (2.39 pm)

News starting to filter through of the changes among Lib Dem ministers:

Norman Lamb REPLACES Paul Burstow as Health minister — Norman was of course the party’s health spokesman until 2010 and was reputedly blocked from being appointed to the post then by… Andrew Lansley, now departed. So a completely fresh team at the Health department. I’ll skip the too-easy punning you can do on Hunt and Lamb.

Jo Swinson REPLACES Norman Lamb at Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Vince Cable’s department. No surprise to see Jo get a well-deserved promotion; a bit more of a surprise to see Norman leave Vince’s department after only five months (he was drafted in to replace Ed Davey when he was promoted to the cabinet following Chris Huhne’s enforced departure… are you still with me?).

And an update on David Laws’ role — though he replaces Sarah Teather (leaving government to spend more time in her wafer-thin marginal seat in Brent) as schools minister, his brief is likely to be more wide-ranging. In other words, while he’s unofficially been licenced to rove by Nick Clegg since his departure from the cabinet in May 2010, now he will officially be licenced to rove.

Stephen Tall writes… (2.55 pm)

Here’s a surprise: Nick Harvey is to leave the post of Armed Forces minister. Here’s how Western Morning News journalist Graeme Demianyk broke it:

It sounds like Nick Clegg has reasoned Nick Harvey has done enough in his two years in the defence department to thwart the Tories’ hopes of an automatic renewal of Trident without consideration of any alternatives — as a result, the Lib Dems are better placed using one of their allocation of ministerial positions in another department. This is what the Indy’s Matt Chorley speculates:

Meanwhile, overseeing the Trident review from the Lib Dem perspective will fall within the ‘roving’ part of David Laws’ brief. He’s a tough negotiator who won’t let Tory hopes of throwing money at out-moded defence systems slip through.

Stephen Tall writes… (3.10 pm)

David Heath moves to become a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) from the post of deputy leader of the House of Commons — a much better role for the Somerton and Frome MP to campaign from and defend his always-marginal seat.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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63 Comments

  • Well the Cabinet Office is going to be a bit crowed with Clegg, Clarke and presumably Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin still there.

  • Is David Laws really coming back?

    What a fantastic strategic move, given the voting public’s love of city bankers and expenses cheats. Laws is also an ideaological crypto-tory who has recently written about his desire to reduce the size of the state beyond the projections resulting from the current spending cuts. What better way to reconnect with all those lost voters that have gone elsewhere because of the well-evidenced perception that those at the top of the Lib Dems ar not simply compromising with the Tories but actually agree with them.

    Astonishing.

  • Jonathan Featonby 4th Sep '12 - 9:48am

    Lynne Featherstone has just put up a post on her website about Lib Dem housing plans. A sign of new responsibilities?

  • @Doktorb

    2 seconds of googling on the internet reveals a story entitled “Expenses cheat David Laws to return to government ” with an overwhelming majority of comments below the article in agreement about his unsuitability for public office:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/expenses-cheat-david-laws-to-return-to-government-8081390.html

    Your perception of David Laws’ capability and integrity doesn’t appear to be shared by the majority of the population.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 10:02am

    David Jones MP will be the new Secretary of State for Wales. He announced this via the traditional “Chris Huhne method” last night by tweeting when he meant to direct message a friend: “Well, I’ll be darned”.

  • Doktorb

    Are you being ironic?

    Can anyone give me an example of someone being appointed as minister after being excluded for a house on a standards’ issue? I can find no clear example on the list of people who have been discipling since 1951 (it is on the website of the HoC). The only people who have been are those who have called people names and also Heseltine for grabbing the mace!

    I suppose you could use Vaz as an example, being chair of Home Affairs committee and also Mandelson but he was never excluded from the house, although Robinson was. Neither are comparable though

    If Laws does come back then surely he should have faced an election in the meantime? It seems he avoided exposing himself before the election (sneaky in itself after portraying himself as cleanm) and now is being reinstated

    I find it all very seedy and it smells of the arrogance of the party to think they can do this. I think it is a mistake and will be another example of LD hypocrisy

  • The idea of Laws being in charge of the education of our young minds, is cynical beyond belief, given his record of dishonesty re his expenses.
    I cannot believe that the party would consider bringing him back, giving him a promotion.It will go down like a dead weight with the electorate.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 10:05am

    Baroness Warsi seems to have been given a “take it or leave it offer” with a deadline of 9am today.

    Peter Bone advises Cameron to sack all Liberal Democrat ministers and replace them with Tories. LOL. Some deeper reaches of the Tory back benches just don’t get this coalition thing do they?

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 10:14am

    Jeremy Hunt is leaving the cabinet to join The Wiggles

  • Damn that Laws bloke, with his claiming half what he should have claimed, that’s just taking the taxpayer to the cleaners, the greedy little… no, hang on, it’s the complete opposite of ripping off the taxpayer.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 10:39am

    Adam Boulton admits on Sky News that he doesn’t know what David Jones MP looks like. Trending on Google image I suspect…

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 10:51am

    A sad day with the departure of Kenneth Clarke from Justice.

    The Transport slot will be interesting. Owen Paterson (currently without job ) is keen on the Heathrow expansion. I thought stopping the expansion was a key coalition policy….

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 10:58am

    This could all be disastrous for the female balance in government. Warsi, Spelman and Gillan out. Villiers in. Laws tipped to replace Teather at Education. I hope Cameron has got some talented women up his sleeve. Jo Swinson would be a good start.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 10:59am

    Rumour: Hunt for Health. Oh dear.

  • Bill le Breton 4th Sep '12 - 11:11am

    In a prime postion to sell off Health Trusts

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 11:12am

    @Bill le Breton
    Surely it will be his special advisor selling off the Health Trusts

  • So right winger Hunt gets promoted (after breaching the ministerial code but avoiding an investigation) Probably my favourite Tory Ken Clarke gets demoted having performed pretty well at Justice. Clearly if he had been more of a ‘hang em flog’ man he could have stayed….

    Osbourne fresh from omnishambles in his day job and embarrassment at the paralympics is untouchable and someone found to have lied over expenses is tipped for a return.

    What a lesson in how competence and honesty do not help in the workplace this gives our children.

  • i wouldn’t be surprised to see laws being given the Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions.

    This Government does after all relish in whacking the electorate round the face with a wet fish.

    Laws, fiddles his expenses, then gets to go on air spouting the Tory Guff about welfare cheats to justify their cuts.

    Laws back as a minister is a disgrace, Hunt, breeching ministerial code and promoted to health secretary is even more of a farce.

    looks like it is going to be more business as usual with this government

  • Hunt for Health? Armando Iannucci has got his work cut out satirising this government.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 12:07pm

    @Steve Way “So right winger Hunt gets promoted (after breaching the ministerial code but avoiding an investigation)”
    Let’s not forget the vital role our Lib Dem MPs played in helping Hunt survive by courageously abstaining to ensure he would not face an investigation. Instead he enjoyed front row seats at the olympics and now a big promotion. Hoorah.
    (Is there a sarcastic smiley I could use now?)

  • So depressed. Can anyone find anything to be positive about so far?

    It’s looking like an illiberal, climate change denying lurch to the right.

    As coalition partners what are we going to do about this change in direction in the coalition?

  • “As coalition partners what are we going to do about this change in direction in the coalition?”

    Nod and smile?

  • @Peter Watson
    No they saved Hunt because of Iraq ………. Or was it to avoid upsetting the ‘partners’ so we got Lords Reform…

    Either way his continuance as a Cabinet Minister is a disgrace…

  • Steve – don’t beat about the bush, say what you really think about Laws 🙂

    I am the Laws!

  • Nearly 85% of readers polled by The Daily Telegraph thought the new Health Secretary should have been referred for breaches of the ministerial code, yet LibDem MPs refused to vote for an investigation during the emergency debate. I doubt any leading Liberal Democrat – certainly not those in government – will raise a squeak about this appointment, one which should put both Cameron and Hunt in the critical ward as far as this party is concerned.

  • Tony Greaves 4th Sep '12 - 3:00pm

    Almost all very depressing so far.

    Tony Greaves

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 3:06pm

    Cheer up Tony. Perhaps the MOD position will be traded for one at DEFRA, I hope so.

  • Lynne Featherstone to replace Grant Shapps AND Andrew Stunnell at Communities?

    We can only hope….

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 4th Sep '12 - 7:33pm

    @jedibeeftrix We’ve been seriously left out of DEFRA matters because we haven’t had a minister there. We’ve had an excellent minister at Defence for two years. Beggars can’t be choosers. If that makes me a sandal-wearer then so be it.

  • Paul McKeown 5th Sep '12 - 11:35pm

    Caroline Spelman OUT, Justine Greening SIDELINED, Theresa Villiers SIDELINED, Charles Hendry OUT.

    Spelman has had her problems, but can anyone tell me what on earth Greening, Villiers or Hendry ever did wrong? No? Thought not, they seemed rather exemplary, competent ministers.

    Owen Paterson? Well, frack me, an obvious friend of the environment, there. John “wind power fails” Hayes? Thought Patrick McLoughlin a decent enough one nation type, but as a former coal miner, one can only suspect where his sympathies on environmental issues will lie.

    Meanwhile, I read that Ed Davey has been forced to take direct control of renewables policy within his department. Davey has done a decent enough job so far, but one can shudders to think what might be slipped past him whilst he has his head stuck in the details that a subordinate minister should be handling.

    And now a “review” into airport capacity lead by a former advisor to Nigel Lawson?

    Osborne’s dabs all over this.

    Lib Dems should play this issue strongly in West London come the General Election, it could turn several seats in their favour and hold others. Shame to target Greening and Villiers, but their pledges to oppose Heathrow expansion won’t stop the Tory head of steam building up on this issue. (Unless they jumped party of course 🙂 )

    Jeremy Hunt promoted to Health? Unaccountably makes me think of the old hospital sitcom, Only When I Laugh. I am h-a-p-p-y. Does it hurt?

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