Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cameron's Dead Pool

I was going to write a post on the growing need for a cabinet reshuffle where I planned to list the cabinet ministers in the frame to be dropped or moved. However, the excellent Fraser Nelson has done just that in his Coffee House blog. Have a read here: Cameron should cleanse his Cabinet of the undead

Fraser lists includes the same names I has in mind. Here's the list with my reasons for believing they may be in the frame for a move or the boot:
  • Chris Huhne - for (allegedly) attempting to avoid speeding penalty points, (allegedly) fiddling his election expenses and disrespecting his cabinet colleagues and party leader
  • Ken Clarke - for being more liberal than the Lib Dems on crime and his appallingly clumsy interview re rape
  • Vince Cable - self obsessed egotist, too tribal for coalition (with the Tories anyway), enjoys attempting to impress young female consistency surgery visitors with injudicious boasts about his political virility, failing to impress the business community he's supposed to be supporting
  • Andrew Lansley - ambitious NHS reforms not convincing key stakeholders or the general public
  • Caroline Spelman - trees
I don't necessarily believe all the above deserve the order of the boot but they are probably all feeling more than a tad insecure. For example, Andrew Lansley deserves to see his NHS reforms through. Assuming the Lib Dems don't totally eviscerate the proposals. However, politically he has failed as he has not sold the proposals effectively and so he could be blamed for any resulting damage to them.

The hysteria surrounding Ken Clarke's clumsy comments on rape overshadow a generally poor performance in convincing people his plans regarding crime and punishment are little more than an attempt to reduce the prison population and save money. It's not fair but people believe he is doing little more than continuing Labour's shocking policies that led to the release of thousands of prisoners early. There is more to it than that, but he's not done enough to convince people.

Similarly, Caroline Spelman failed to sell the forestry reforms and came a cropper on the branches of public opinion, that had been much more effectively influenced by left wing groups like the online campaigning site 38 Degrees.

I considered including the sieve like Liam Fox. His courting of the Tory right (through leaking stories that will appeal to them) looks suspiciously like an attempt to build a power base to challenge Cameron. But God knows the coalition needs reminding from time to time that pandering to the left of the Liberal Democrats is not a long term option and that there is a much more significant constituency with broader popular appeal at the other end of the political spectrum.

As for Vince Cable and Chris Huhne, the charge sheet against them is much more serious (especially in Huhne's case). But sacking them is also much more tricky for Cameron who has to juggle the sensitivities of his coalition partners. But act he must. While he rightly dislikes the idea of constantly changing cabinet personnel, as the previous administration was so keen on doing, he has tolerated a little bit too much from some like Huhne and Cable. Failure to punish ineffective ministers may also lead others to relax and lose the drive that they had when they were first elevated to office.

Cameron's administration is a highly ambitious one and needs highly effective ministers to successfully carry through its reform agenda before the administration's political capital runs out.

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