Published on 4 Sep 2012

Tory right happy: Ming says Cameron ‘paying Danegeld’

I’ve been speaking to some Tory MPs on the right and there’s a pretty good welcome for what they know of the reshuffle so far. They wish Ken Clarke was out altogether but are glad to see Chris Grayling at justice. They like the fact that Owen Paterson has been promoted. They prefer Grant Shapps to Baroness Warsi as party chairman. Some talk of a “shift to the right.”

You could also look at all this as progress for those who least like the Lib Dems. When we get to the lower ranks of the reshuffle tonight and tomorrow, we’ll probably see David Cameron promoting some more “like-minded” modernisers, natural Cameroons. But those very Cameroons might, at the end of the whole process, be wondering what the Cameroon creed really is.

Ming Campbell told me he thought David Cameron was “paying Danegeld” to his right-wing and should remember that the Vikings “kept coming back.” Brian Binley told me he thought he and his colleagues had nudged David Cameron’s government to the right. Stuart Jackson said the reshuffle was “recognition that the right of centre needs proper representation in government” and that David Cameron had “appointed people who are not that Lib Dem friendly”.

I hear the treasury wasn’t mad keen on the narrative building up that Ken Clarke was now going to be shadowing George Osborne on economic policy from within the government in his new role as minister without portfolio. There’s now been a clarifying statement in which Mr Clarke explains that, in his new job, he “will be joining the national security council, along with cabinet committees on Europe and the economy, and will remain a member of the home affairs committee…(and) will also take the justice and security bill through parliament.”

Likewise, Andrew Lansley‘s been letting it be known that his new role as leader of the house is a much beefed up version of the role Sir George Young had with much more involvement in shaping the government’s entire cross-department strategy. It is, Mr Lansley reminds people, the role that he had in opposition in Tory HQ when the young David Cameron first came to work for him!

Andrew Lansley thought he wasn’t moving and had any number of David Cameron public statements of support to make him think that. I understand that Mr Lansley emphatically sought and received assurances that there would be no stepping off the gas in the NHS reforms.

Other oddities created in this reshuffle include the fact that Baroness Warsi, working out of the foreign office, presumably abroad quite a bit, will be minister for faith and communities with a desk at the DCLG. One source in that department described this arrangement as “bonkers.” Another oddity is that responsibility for equality measures, which used to sit in the home office with Theresa May now goes to the department of culture media and sport to sit with Maria Miller.

I realise we don’t have anything like all the government jobs yet … but the “reshuffle for a new generation” has so far brought down the average age of those attending cabinet from 52 to (drum roll) … 51.

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One reader comment

  1. Robert Taggart says:

    Hope the ‘Danes’ keep coming back – and taking over !

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