'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Saturday 28 July 2012

Olympic Road Race action going into Richmond Park

Huge crowds waiting outside Kingston Gate

Massive cheers for this chap. Is he leading?

The actual leaders - riding like the clappers

The eventual winner, in turquoise and yellow - Kazakhstan's Alexandr Vinokourov 

Here come the plucky Brits!

Friday 27 July 2012

The Medal table. The Guardian has already published it...

I've seen more exciting tables to be honest. Great we're 4th though.

The Olympic Flame hits Ham and Richmond Riverside

Fresh on the heels of the Olympic Torch coming through Ham Common on Tuesday, the flame was back today - as a beacon on the Gloriana, as it made its way down river to the Park ahead of the opening ceremony today. Here's a couple of shots.

'He may be a Tory. But he's our Tory'. No, not Jeremy Hunt.

I didn't vote for him. Not even second preference.

I think he does a lot I don't agree with.

I suspect he's not as quite as he appears.

But you have to hand it to Boris. He does know how to make a speech...

...and how to stick it to Mitt Romney. Hats off Boris. Or as Jane Merrick tweeted this morning...

and before I forget. Here's that video of Jeremy Hunt.

Someone's been out marking cards on speculation around Osborne

There's been a  lot of speculation over the last few weeks and months - since the bungled budget, #pastytax and all - about the future of George Osborne at No.11. It hasn't all been Lib Dems saying making it Vince. There are plenty of other names in the ring  - Hague, Hammond, even Redwood, all put about by Tory sources and supporters.

Yet in the last 24 hours or so  I have seen three well connected and informed political commentators dismiss any notion of the Chancellor moving on.

First Allegra Stratton on Newsnight on Wednesday described any notion that Cameron might move Osborne from next door as 'fanciful'. Then Thursday morning, Donata Huggins in the Telegraph quoted a Tory source as saying

"Those who suggest it (moving Osborne) misunderstand the entire Cameron project. Moving George would be to admit the end of it. The only way George would move from the Treasury is if he decided he wanted to move himself"

Later that same day, Rafael Behr in The New Statesman said

"There was never really any chance of Osborne being moved in the reshuffle. It would be an admission of economic failure on an epic scale and he is too close to Cameron"

And that's just 3 I've picked up on.

So the word is out. Osborne is staying as Chancellor. 

But presumably this also tells us that of his two roles, 'master Tory Strategist' is the one that is shifting.

Still plenty of jostling going on in the Tories over the summer I suspect.

All the cabinet reshuffle speculation in one place. There's a lot of it...

In the latest cabinet reshuffle speculation, I see it’s being touted that Baroness Warsi  may be moved from Chairman of the Conservative Party into the International Development role.

And it’s inspired me to keep track of who is being touted for which post in the cabinet.

So going forward I will publish this occasional list of names I have seen in frames in the mainstream press and TV (and on the more credible blogs) for cabinet jobs. I have gone back to March. If I have heard the current incumbent is safe I will also add their name, together with all the names of folk I have heard may replace them. If I have heard nothing about the role – I will leave it blank. I am excluding naked guesswork (such as my own earlier effort)

No doubt the list of names will steadily grow over coming months… and do feel free to alert me to any speculation I miss.

Prime Minister

David Cameron

Deputy PM

Nick Clegg

Chancellor of the Exchequer

George Osborne
Vince Cable
William Hague
John Redwood
Philip Hammond
Michael Gove
Theresa May

Foreign Secretary

William Hague
George Osborne

Home Secretary

Theresa May
Michael Gove
Chris Grayling


Michael Gove
Liz Truss


Andrew Lansley
Ken Clarke
Jeremy Hunt
David Laws

Chief Secretary


Nick Herbert
Theresa May
Theresa Villiers

Scottish Secretary

Jo Swinson
Alastair Carmichael

Welsh Secretary

Cheryl Gillan
David Jones

Northern Ireland


Andrew Mitchell
David Laws
Danny Alexander


Baroness Warsi
Maria Miller


Ed Davey

House of Lords

Lord Howard

Minister without Portfolio (Chair of Tory Party)

Grant Shapps
Michael Fallon
Michael Gove
Jeremy Hunt
Andrew Mitchell


Philip Hammond

Work & Pensions

Iain Duncan Smith



Andrew Mitchell
Theresa Villiers
Chris Grayling

International Development

Baroness Warsi


Jeremy Hunt
Justine Greening

And while we’re at it – more speculation. People I have seen tipped to be leave (there’s a major surprise in there but I have read it so feel I must be comprehensive) or be promoted to the cabinet.

Tipped to leave

Ken Clarke
Caroline Spelman
Jeremy Hunt
Baroness Warsi
Andrew Lansley
Vince Cable (that’s the surprise)
Cheryl Gillan

Tipped to be Promoted

Grant Shapps
Maria Miller
Chris Grayling
David Laws
Jo Swinson
Alistair Carmichael
Greg Clark
Lynn Featherstone
Andrea Leadsom
Margot James
Anna Soubry
Claire Perry
Nicky Morgan
Harriet Baldwin
Theresa Villiers
Mark Harper

I’ll update these lists from time to time…

And some observations:
No one really knows anything
Some posts are under particular scrutiny  - Chancellor, Tory Chairman, Health
Some names come up over and over again (both in , out or moved) – Warsi, Clarke, Hunt, Lansley
There are a  lot of potential Tory women on the promotions list
Lib Dem movement, or at least speculation about it, is more widespread than you think – Laws, Swinson, Carmichael. Even Vince – where he is often seen as potentially stepping down for a leadership bid (the first reference of this I found came, not last Sunday, but last month).

Thursday 26 July 2012


It appears Mitt Romney doesn't know Ed Miliband's name. Which may be why he refers to him as 'Mr Leader' in this video

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Is this survey very wrong of me? ho hum

With Vince Cable allegedly throwing his much loved Fedora into the leadership ring, I thought it would be fun to have a 'which of the main three parties will lose its leader first' poll. It's over in the top right (if you're reading this on mobile  go and look at the web version of this blog and you'll see it)

Here are the runners and riders

1. David Cameron - hardly flavour of the month with at least a third of his MPs, still got Lords Reform/boundary commission issue to face, and well adrift in the polls. And they do like a knifing in the Tories....

2. Ed Miliband - much derided by the Blairite faction of Labour, the Progress issue about to split the party, and while he's ahead in the polls, nowhere near as far ahead as Foot in 1981 and Kinnock in 1990 - and look how well that worked out...

3. Nick Clegg - not exactly booming in the polls, hardly the best approval ratings amongst the public - oh, you know the rest...

So folks; who gets your vote?

Empty vessels, lots of noise...

I wrote this in The New Statesman on Monday, partly inspired by the Vince Cable 'leadership' debate but also by these word clouds I came across the other day. They seem to indicate no one has a clue what we stand for at the moment.  I also know the ever excellent Mark Pack has been advocating the need for a policy debate for a while - but suddenly it seems even more true to me. It's all very well continually saying that we're NOT Tories and that we're different - but sooner or later we are going to have to say HOW we are different. A tax cut for the low paid, Pupil Premium, reinstating the earnings link to pensions - all Lib Dem policies but also policies that now the Tories will lay some claim to. We need to say how we are fundamentally different from them. Time to crack on...

Anyway, this attracted a few comments...

Oh dear, there’s a bit of a barney going on over here in the Lib Dems. Over the weekend, Vince Cable made some mildly ambitious comments alluding to the fact that should a vacancy ever arise (and should he be given the opportunity), he probably could make a half decent fist of running the Lib Dems. He’s probably right, too.
Now I think Vince is at that stage of his career when he more often than not takes the view, "stuff it, I’ll say what I think", which is a pleasant change from the norm. I seem to remember Ken Clarke making similar noises a few years back, pointing out the lunacy of trying to pretend you had no ambitions to lead your party. But predictably, many in the media  - and the Conservative Party - have jumped on this as the start of a Lib Dem civil war as Vince mounts an "attack" on Nick. "Of course he knew what he was doing", goes the cry, "he’s an experienced politician and he understands ‘the code".
This has the potential to be especially problematic for the Lib Dems, as the party wrestles to find its soul. This is often poorly defined as left vs. right, social liberals vs. Orange Bookers (Vince is usually placed in the former camp, with folk conveniently forgetting he contributed a chapter to The Orange Book), or even grassroots vs. parliamentary party. Of course, none of these descriptions truly fit.
But it does expose the need in the party to start resolving some of its positions, defining firm policy, and preparing for 2015. The differentiation strategy may have kicked off in June 2011, but I’m not convinced many people have noticed. Without this, the party will lack direction, and the discontent will manifest itself in questions over the leadership. The party is undoubtedly split over this. A poll on my own blog had a tiny majority for a change in leader before 2015, a larger Lib Dem Voice poll went the other way (no doubt aided by the question essentially being framed as, "do you agree with Lembit that we need a new leader?") And as things stand, whenever this issue comes up and someone expresses any ambition in the future, vitriol will be poured on their head from a large, internally held, bucket.
So starting with the party conference in September, we must formulate and agree some firm policy agendas. This, more than anything else, will tell us who we think the right person to present those policies to the electorate is – Nick or someone else. An open debate about the policies and philosophy we wish to present to the world is the first step down that road. And then we can concentrate on doing the important stuff. Arguing over whether our senior politicians have the right express ambition or not seems like a bit of a side issue. However much fun it may be ...

Olympic Fever on Ham Common - photos

It's easy to be cynical about Olympic fever. But yesterday the Olympic Torch made its way down Ham Common, and literally thousands of people came out to watch it pass. and there was a huge excitement, a real buzz and a proper sense of shared experience. It was a real moment. 

Nick said this to the GB Olympic team last night as they arrived in the village - but I have to say, it applies just as much to the thousands who lined the Richmond Road yesterday and cheered the two torch bearers on. 

“The nation is gripped by Olympic fever in a way it never, ever has been. Because, when you host the Games, you don't just support your team in the normal way. Something deeper happens. Supporters, volunteers, the official Team GB – these Games belong to everyone. We are all hosting the world. Our experiences are all tied together. And, when everything is said and done, those experiences will make up a history we all share. In a way, the Team goes even wider than this room – it extends to the people out there.

Yes, the tube keeps breaking down, Yes, its very commercial. Yes the G4S debacle is ludicrous.

But I'm loving the fact that we're hosting the Olympics. 

The Torch approaches

The Torch

The Torch passes

Who's this fellow?

On our way home

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Nick Clegg's giving this speech to the GB team right now...it's a corker

Nick Clegg is delivering the welcome speech to the GB team as they arrive in the Olympic Village tonight.

Here is an extract from his speech.

“The nation is gripped by Olympic fever in a way it never, ever has been. Because, when you host the Games, you don't just support your team in the normal way. Something deeper happens. Supporters, volunteers, the official Team GB – these Games belong to everyone. We are all hosting the world. Our experiences are all tied together. And, when everything is said and done, those experiences will make up a history we all share. In a way, the Team goes even wider than this room – it extends to the people out there.

“So if I leave you with one thought tonight, as you and your teams embark on the final leg of this journey, let it be this: the people of Britain won’t just be watching you – they'll be right there with you. They’ll be following you into battle: sharing in your dreams; standing alongside you in any disappointments; and when you triumph, as you will, revelling in your joy.

“I hope you can draw from that. There is strength in numbers – something every team player knows. In your most challenging moments, draw strength from the people out there. You embody a nation’s hopes; you have captured its imagination; and the people of Britain will be there by your side, supporting you, every step of the way.

“All that is left to do is to wish you luck - the very best of Great British luck.”

Oh dear. This isn't good.

I'm indebted to Charles Beaumont for alerting me to this piece that he wrote on Lib Dem Voice, in turn pointing to this intriguing polling piece from Lord Ashcroft...

The latter centres mainly on how different ethnic minorities see the three main parties and is concluded with these three word clouds, describing what they think each stands for. I find the Lib Dem cloud especially depressing (click to enlarge each image).

Just one survey I know - but the prominence of words like 'Nothing', 'Not Sure' and 'Confused' rather emphasis the need to me for more policy making and communication of that policy making as a matter of urgency.

There's a void to fill.

Monday 23 July 2012

Lives on the Line

Could I commend this excellent site to you all? It maps life expectancy at Birth and Child Poveryty as a Tube Map. There are some astonishing variations in life expectancy revealed.

Oxford Circus - 96
Bank - 87
Vauxhall - 78

click to enlarge

It's really worth spending a little time over on the site...

h/t to @alexhern who pointed it out in the first place

What's the greatest threat to world stability? The Eurozone Crisis, civil war in Syria or The Daily Star?

It's interesting to note that 3 of the 5 Broadsheet papers are currently leading on the Eurozone crisis, whereas just one is leading on Syria...

But strangely, I can't think why, The Times seems to think that newspaper groups other the News international getting dragged into Leveson trouble is the BIG news of the day.

Funny old world, isn't it...

We'd form a government with Labour. Is this really news?

The 'new's that, if in 2015 the electoral arithmetic made Labour the largest party but without an majority, then we would in principle form a government with them, has been greeted with surprise in some quarters.

But is it really news at all? In the 2010 election we agreed to talk first to whoever had the largest mandate after the votes were counted - which we did. We also spoke to Labour. Of course we'd form the most appropriate coalition we could, and if that was with Labour so be it. I can't quite see why this is news?

What IS news is that Labour will only form a coalition with us - should Nick resign first. This is presumably a tit-for-tat move after Nick demanded Gordon Brown resign as part of our own talks with Labour. Which appears a little childish - they'd do better to keep their powder dry until they see exactly where they stand - it would be interesting to see if Ed Miliband was in the David Cameron position next time but that he refused to do a deal unless Nick resigned, would he really be willing to pass up the keys to No.10 as a result?

Although as we know, things are often said in anger but later forgotten...

Sunday 22 July 2012

Vince for Chancellor: seems the public agrees.

This survey just out makes it very clear who the public favour as an alternative to Gideon

h/t to @timmontgomerie

Let's hope Dave's listening...

Saturday 21 July 2012

Are Free Schools really widening choice?

Latest from me in the New Statesman:

While many in my party are opposed to free schools in principle, I am reluctant to man the barricades on every occasion one is approved. I am sure many of the schools offer a fine education, with nuanced but important variations from the national curriculum that parents think important and children find stimulating and exciting. Nor do I think Michael Gove is the devil incarnate for introducing them – I suspect he is sincerely trying to improve educational standards in the way he thinks is best, even if I don’t agree with all he is doing (by a long shot).
I do, however, question the assumption that the free school movement is all about parental choice. That’s not how it feels to me.
In my own area, Zac Goldsmith hosted a public meeting a couple of weeks ago to tell local parents that the money promised for a new local education authority school had gone down the plughole with the demise of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme – and that the only realistic way in which central government funding would be secured to deliver a desperately needed new school would be if a successful bid for a free school was made. Two other choices were mentioned – to cut £25 million from other local services or to add five per cent to council tax. Neither seemed attractive. Thus the choice on offer appears to be: "it’s a free school - take it or leave it".
After I wrote about this, Zac has tweeted to me that the free school funding option offers more parental choice than under BSF. Again, that’s not how I see it. Under the free school movement, there may well be multiple local applications for a new school – but the choice of which type of school will emerge rests not with parents but with the Education Secretary, who will ultimately decide which sort of school is best.
I’m also concerned that the Lib Dems are being slightly complacent about all this.  Nick Clegg told the Social Liberal Forum conference on Saturday that he had stopped Gove putting free schools "everywhere". I promise you, Nick, if you have, it doesn’t feel like it on the ground.
If parental choice was at the centre of this programme, parents would first be asked if they wanted an LEA or centrally-funded school, before then being asked what changes they would like to see on that school’s curriculum from the standard. But currently, as one councillor said publicly the other week, "I have to have a new school and I’m going to do whatever I have to in order to get it built, even if I end up having to call it ‘The Michael Gove Free School’".
Which would actually not be such a bad strategy when you consider who is actually going to end up making the choice …

Piers Morgan puts the Pro Gun lobby in its place.

Top work Piers, I take my hat off to you. (Here's a link if you are reading this blog on mobile)

The Lib Dem Cabinet

Following on from my full cabinet reshuffle last week (still no thank you note from the PM) my mind turned to what, right now, would a full Lib Dem cabinet look like?

I've taken official party positions, current cabinet and other ministerial posts in mind (and given this precedent over anything other then cabinet promotions), made one or two promotions, and brought in a couple of fresh faces. I have tried to reflect current influence in these areas of government, not subjective calls on who I think would be best in a role (see notes below cabinet).

So - have I got this right?

Prime Minister: Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister: Simon Hughes
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Vince Cable
Foreign Secretary: Jeremy Browne
Home Secretary: Lynne Featherstone
Women and Equality (new post): Jo Swinson
Chief Secretary: Danny Alexander
Energy and Climate Change: Ed Davey
Scottish Secretary: Michael Moore
Welsh Secretary: Mark Williams
Northern Ireland: Norman Lamb
Business: David Laws
Work and Pensions: Steve Webb
Education: Sarah Teather
Health: Paul Burstow
Defence:Nick Harvey
DCMS: Adrian Sanders
Justice: Alan Beith
Transport: Norman Baker
Environment: Dan Rogerson
International Development: Malcolm Bruce
Communities: Andrew Stunnell
Leader of the Lords: Lord McNally
Minister without Portfolio: Tim Farron

A few notes:

I promoted Vince creating a vacancy at Business - David Laws seemed the obvious candidate
Where we had someone in government in a department, I automatically promoted them to the cabinet.
The exception was Lord' two jobs' McNally - I left him as Leader of the Lords creating a vacancy at Justice
Where we had no one in a government department (except PPS), I promoted the senior member of the relevant select committee - based on experience in that area, not because I thought they were naturally the best for the job.
Where there was still a gap, I made a call. There were only 2. N Ireland and Minister without portfolio (equivalent of Tory position of Party Chairman). Latter was easy. Former was hard.

Doing this there are one or two obvious MPs most party members would have in their cabinet that don't automatically fall into place. Julian Huppert is one.

Who else have I missed?

Interestingly you end up with 21 men and just three women in this cabinet. Maybe time we looked again at how good (or rather bad) we are at promoting women.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

First responses to the reshuffle

My reshuffle that is (both of them)

Well the biggest debate was around...Scottish Secretary. Strangely the debate on the blog and especially in my twitter feed was not so much around the fate of Michael Moore (although one commentator said 'We'll have no getting rid of Moore talk after his stellar performance on Scotland Bill') and more universal distaste for my idea that Cameron might plonk Michael Gove on the Scots. Despite being a Scot, he was clearly seen as an English MP, and a very unpopular choice - possibly enough to tip the balance on Independence towards the Yes camp in may people's views.

If this is true of course - and Cameron can see it to be true - it won't happen. But will Cameron see it? And indeed is this a very Lib Dem view? the main anti Gove argument was that he is a Tory and a Tory cannot be Scottish Secretary? There was also a concern that he doesn't have a Scottish mandate - but of course as one person pointed out this is also true of the Welsh Secretary.

We shall see...

Most folk liked my promotions of Cable and Clarke but were convinced it would never happen.

Others were surprised at my promotion of Shapps to Health. You're right to be. But remember this isn't my reshuffle, its my reshuffle if I were Cameron, with a Lib Dem bias. I think Shaps is coming into cabinet - but i think he'll be given a portfolio where he can do no harm. this could Environment or DCMS but i went for Health on the basis that he already has a 'social' portfolio, it will go down well on the back benches if Shapps is given a biggish job - and the legislation is in place already so he can't change much.

Having said that, this was the area of comment that gave me most food for thought and wondered if I had this right. I think Cameron will do it - maybe I should have gone for someone more to our taste. But if I were PM, I would have to sell this in to the backbenches so...

Anyway, everyone thinks Lansley is out.

I thought Laws to education and sacking May altogether would attract comment but nothing so far

Finally again, not too much passionate support for Danny. I think there seems general acceptance that if Laws is coming back, Danny or Michael will make way.Can't be much fn for them - but either way I think a strategic job looking after the election (Danny) or the referendum (Michael) awaits.

Anyway, keep the comments coming either here, on the original post or on twitter (@richardmorrisuk)

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Dear Tory HQ. You might want to delete the @camerondirect feed from the last election.

...because this is what it currently shows.

A tad embarrassing, isn't it?

The Cabinet Reshuffle:it's all done.

I’ve saved David Cameron the trouble of knifing his friends and reshuffled his cabinet for him. (Blame me Dave; tell them I made you do it). In fact I’ve reshuffled it twice. Once as I (or maybe Nick, who will have a strong influence on any LD changes) would like it to be (while maintaining some semblance of reality – if I had a free hand I’d fill it with Lib Dems but that’s not going to happen so I’ve been sensible and looked at the possible); and once as I think it’s more likely to end up. And what fun it’s been – suddenly I can see why you’d want to be PM…

So here goes – and would value all feedback in the comments section so do let me know your views…

Prime Minister

My cabinet:David Cameron
Likely Cameron: David Cameron

Of course, not my absolute first choice as PM – he’s in the wrong party for one thing. And ‘call me Dave’ isn’t a great PM, clearly not in charge of his own troops. But he’s not going anywhere – and better the devil you know…

Deputy PM

My cabinet:Nick Clegg
Likely Cameron:Nick Clegg

While the recent leadership poll on this blog said (by a small majority) that we should have a new leader before the next election (and I notice someone from #slf was tweeting about the ‘post Clegg era’ on Saturday, which is slightly jumping the gun), Nick is in no immediate danger. Indeed, post Lords Reform he seems rather more secure than Cameron. His leadership may well get thrown up in the air again if we don’t secure either Lords Reform, or a stunning compensation (Vince for Chancellor). But he is safe for now.


My cabinet: Vince Cable
Likely Cameron:William Hague

So let’s all agree one thing. George is off. A disastrous budget, the economy tanking, and with the Tories requiring their “master Political strategist’ (ahem) to restore their fortunes in the polls, George will shortly be leaving No.11.

But who to replace him?

Well, there’s no doubt about the Lib Dems no.1 choice – Vince Cable. As Matthew Norman says, how many times DOES Vince have to be right before he’s made Chancellor. But it won’t be Vince. Partly because the Tory backbenchers will go bonkers if we get the lead role in the key part of the coalition agreement. Partly because the Tories see themselves as the masters of economic strategy (much like we see ourselves as masters of constitutional reform) and so they will want one of their own in charge. And partly because Vince is the lowest rated of all Cabinet Members amongst the Tory grass roots (strange but true)

So if it has to be a Tory, who gets the nod? Well, on this blog the clear winner was Ken Clarke. But I think we all know that’s not going to happen, don’t we? So Cameron will hunt for a safe pair of hands, popular in the country, very popular in the party, probably on the right. That’s William Hague. ‘He’s got no economic experience’ I hear you cry. Well, that didn’t get us far with Gideon, did it? And you forget – Hague ran an election campaign based on Save the Pound. With the Eurozone in meltdown, who better to ‘defend British economic interests’? (I know, I know, I just know what they’ll say…)

Foreign Secretary

My cabinet: William Hague
Cameron Likely:Theresa May

As I moved Vince to No.11 I can leave Hague in the FCO, where, despite one or two misgivings I think he is doing an excellent job.

Sadly, the PM won’t have that luxury. So he’ll be casting around for a safe pair of hands. His eye, I suspect, will alight on Theresa May. Now of course, she is anything BUT a safe pair of hands. But she is now the longest serving Home Secretary since Blunkett and with the latest G4S debacle also landing at her door, and the police booing her at the last conference she spoke to them at, her time is surely up

The FCO requires an experienced and senior politician and and from a Cameron point of view this seems the perfect sinecure for Theresa

Home Secretary

My cabinet:Ken Clarke
Likely:David Willetts

In the Cameron scenario I have the three most senior cabinet positions (after PM and DPM) moving. To that extent at least, this is Cameron’s ‘Night of the Long Knives’.

For the Lib Dems there is an obvious ‘first choice’ – Ken Clarke. He’s done it before, he’s handled the tricky ‘secret courts’ issue at Justice as well as anyone could, and there’s now the snooping bill to deal with at the Home Office.

But we know he’s blotted his copybook in Cameron’s eyes too many times and with Vince at No 11, would Cameron let another of the ‘big three’ jobs go to ‘the sixth liberal’.

So who gets it? I thought of Pickles – he’s has two years experience at Communities and Local Govt and this seems like an easy step to take.

No, I think HO is where Cameron will make the first of his promotions into the cabinet. It’s often overlooked that Willett’s attends cabinet, but isn’t a member of cabinet.  He’s hugely respected, was a David Davis supporter in the Tory leadership campaign so is likely to be trusted by the Lib Dems on the snooping bill (which will matter to Cameron) and has broad appeal in the party. He probably is the safe pair of hands.

But in my cabinet, don't forget I have left Hague  at the FCO. Which means in my cabinet, May is out.

Women & Equalities

My cabinet: Lynn Featherstone
Cameron Likely:Justine Greening

A new cabinet post, with Theresa May moving from the Home Office to the FCO (or out altogether), and I would make this a cabinet post (it is currently just a ministerial post, despite being held by May)

And of course there is an obvious candidate – Lynn Featherstone has done a wonderful job in  the Undersecretary of State role. This would be well deserved promotion and a shrewd tactical move by Cameron.

I’m not sure he is that shrewd.

I think he will ‘promote’ the role. But he will use it as an opportunity to solve another problem. Justine Greening is a Tory MP who has to keep telling the Airlines that there will be no third runway at Heathrow. She has to because…she’s MP for Putney. But she’s careful not to rule it out after 2015, when we all think the Tories will have it in their manifesto.

So she has to be moved. She is seen as competent and popular. I think this is where she will end up.


My cabinet:Philip Hammond
Cameron Likely:Philip Hammond.

He’s not my cup of tea but he’s not been there long enough to move, and he’s done nothing wrong. No change here

Chief Secretary to the Treasury

My cabinet :Mark Hoban
Likely Cameron:Danny Alexander

Now let’s be clear – my preferred option is not to sack Danny and replace him with Mark Hoban. I think Danny has done a good job and one of my favourite coalition moments was when he floored Paxo on Newsnight by answering ‘yes’ to the question, ‘will the cuts go on after 2015?’ Brilliant. Chloe Smith, take note.

Danny also used to be my client at Britain in Europe so I wish him no ill will.

But if my preferred option for Chancellor is Vince, there’s no way that we’ll be allowed the top 2 jobs at the Treasury. We certainly wouldn’t allow it the other way.

So Danny has to make way and I’ve plumped for Mark Hoban – on the basis that he thinks banks should be allowed to fail, need generally sorting out, and appears to be on the side of the mutuals in terms of helping them to grow. He is the most competent Tory junior minister in the Treasury. I am prepared for others to tell me all sorts of dark secrets I don’t know about him though, to make me change my mind…

But fear not Danny. Cameron hasn’t got the guts to put Vince in to No.11, so you’ll be safe where you are.

You’re also all wondering about David Laws aren’t you…

Business, Innovation and Skills

My cabinet:David Laws
Cameron Likely:Vince Cable

I don’t think Cameron will do anything but leave Vince where is he. But if he were to move Vince to No. 11 – then isn’t this the place where David Laws is most likely to re emerge? He can’t go back to the ‘same‘ job he resigned from surely, this is close enough to the Treasury to make good use of his experience – and of course he is an ex investment banker, useful as the Department is likely to be heavily involved in regulation and restructuring of the banks. Makes perfect sense to me.

But in Cameron’s world – I think he has a different plan for David Laws…you’ll need to hang on a mo…

Work and Pensions

My cabinet:Iain Duncan Smith

Likely Cameron:Iain Duncan Smith

Too much going on, not gone badly enough wrong, I wouldn’t move IDS, even if I’m not big on his policy agenda. Neither will Cameron. A fight he doesn’t need to have.

Energy and Climate Change

My cabinet:Ed Davey

Cameron Likely:Ed Davey

Ed is doing a fine job, has done nothing to merit any change and hasn’t been there long enough anyway to change. Status quo all round

Communities and Local Government

My cabinet:Eric Pickles

Cameron Likely:Eric Pickles

I couldn’t move Eric, Cameron might even be tempted to promote him to the Home Office, a popular move with the right. But Eric will stay


My cabinet: Justine Greening

Cameron Likely:Theresa Villiers

I wouldn’t have put Greening in at transport anyway – the third runway is an accident waiting to happen for the MP for Putney. But as she is there, and doing a competent job, I’d probably leave her for now. But I’ve already said that I think Cameron will move her. So he’ll promote Theresa Villiers (who I am no fan of) into cabinet. A Heathrow fan and a London MP who will benefit from HS2, which (I think I am right in saying) skirts round her constituency.


My cabinet:Michael Gove

Cameron likely:David Laws

While I would leave Gove in place, despite the fact that he seems intent on forcing Free Schools on an unsuspecting world whether they like it or not, I don’t think Cameron will. I think Cameron must now see Gove as a threat – especially after the ‘O’ level announcement, a move designed to further enhance Gove’s reputation amongst the Tory faithful, and also Gove’s Leveson performance defending the press – surely a debt that will be repaid.

So Gove will pay the price for doing ‘too good a job’. But Cameron can’t sack him. He needs to move him into a position which can be dressed up as a promotion, of vital importance to this country’s future, but where he can do little harm. That’s coming next.

But meantime, who to put into Education? Well Gove’s success makes it hard for any Tory to follow him. The Lib Dems have been making all sorts of noises about Free Schools. And they want to bring the party’s former spokesman on Children, Schools and Families -who’s an Orange Booker, so not a bad ‘follow’ after Gove – back.

Bingo. David Laws

Scottish Secretary

My cabinet:Michael Moore

Cameron likely:Michael Gove

Of course I wouldn’t move Michael Moore. He’s done an extremely accomplished job. So the status quo for me.

But if Cameron is to bring Laws back into the cabinet, he has to lose at least one Lib Dem. It’s not Clegg or Cable. Davey hasn’t been there long enough to move. It could be Danny – but if Cameron changes Chancellor and it’s not Vince, he has to leave Danny in place. So he’ll cast a baleful eye towards Michael Moore..

And then he’ll think what he needs in that role, with the key matter of Scottish Independence on the cards. Ideally a Scottish MP representing an English constituency (Gove). A politician who’s as wily and conniving as Alex Salmond (Gove). And who’s as in with Murdoch as Alex Salmond (Gove).

And the Union is of vital importance to the Tories – they are the Conservative and Unionist Party after all. So he can genuinely say he is trusting Gove with a position of vital constitutional importance. But one where it will be hard for Gove to score points with the mainly English Tory grass roots.

It all seems to fall very neatly into place for Cameron. I wonder if he’ll have the vision and the courage to do it?

Let’s not hope, for Michael Moore’s sake. He deserves better.

Welsh Secretary

My cabinet:Cheryl Gillan

Cameron likely:Cheryl Gillan

No change, a fight nobody wants or needs

Northern Ireland

My cabinet;Owen Paterson

Cameron:Owen Paterson

I wouldn’t move Owen Paterson,  for all his nonsense about opposing equal marriage.  Better to have him in the cabinet where you can control him then on the backbenches where he’s clearly going to be trouble. Cameron certainly won’t promote him, and won’t want to move him sideways. So we’ll both grit our teeth and leave him be.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My cabinet:Jeremy Hunt

Cameron likely:Jeremy Hunt

Caroline Spelman has impressed no one  - and so will move out. Spelman offers no political threat.

Jeremy Hunt needs moving. He may have survived for now but his presence in DCMS is a ticking time bomb.

But I think (and Cameron will certainly think) that he doesn’t want to be seen to be sacking Hunt after the Lib Dems failed to back him in the House  (I’d have voted against by the way rather than abstaining).

EFR offers a suitable sideways move, plus Hunt is a rural MP, and  this is a role in which he is unlikely to ruffle many feathers. I suspect Hunt would welcome this move.

Minister without Portfolio (Chairman of Tory Party)

My cabinet:George Osborne

Cameron likely:George Osborne

I think we all know this is going to happen, so why fight it. The only alternative to Osborne appears to be Grant Shapps – but I have another role for him in mind. And I think Cameron will still want Osborne close. Partly because he’s a friend. But mostly because he’s a rival.

International Development

My cabinet:Andrew Mitchell

Cameron:Andrew Mitchell

Again, just doesn’t need to make a change. So he won’t.

Leader of the Lords

My cabinet:Lord Strathclyde

Cameron likely:Lord Strathclyde

I guess with the House of Lords Reform issue, Cameron may have some card up his sleeve. But I don’t think he’ll want to ruffle feathers on the red benches, so as you were.


My cabinet:Grant Shapps

Cameron likely:Grant Shapps

Lansley is out. He’s made too many political mistakes and enemies and having completed the NHS bill, it’s an easy change.

And this gives Cameron the perfect opportunity to promote an MP popular on the Tory backbenches. Again, I’m not Shapps biggest fan – but he is a more than competent minister and a high profile role supervising the implementation of legislation that’s already in place seems the right job for him right now.


My cabinet:Nick Herbert
Cameron likely: Oliver Letwin

We both need to make a decision (as I’ve moved Ken to the Home Office and I think Cameron will move him out altogether).

I’ve promoted the No. 2 in the department, Nick Herbert, as he works with the Home Office and as well as Ken at Justice, so this will be a seamless promotion. Of course I’d rather promote the ‘other’ No.2, Lord McNally – but I’ve already brought in two new LD’s including one extra cabinet post and so three would be a step too far.

But I think Cameron will do something different. He’ll take the opportunity of putting Letwin into full Cabinet (currently he just ‘attends’ Cabinet) – partly because I think he’ll want to give him a proper job, and partly because Osborne will want Letwin to give him a clear run on political and electoral strategy. This gets Letwin out of Osborne’s hair.


My cabinet:Ed Vaizey

Cameron likely: Ed Vaizey

We’ve both moved Hunt. We’ll promote one of the next in line. It’s a toss up between Hugh Robertson (Sport), John Penrose (Tourism) and Vaizey – who gets the nod because he specializes in media and that will continue to be the hot potato in this department, as Leveson draws to a close. Plus he also looks after creative industries, my area, so I’d like to see someone who understands my business in charge.

And that’s it. I think the remainder of folk attending but not in cabinet will remain unchanged.

It’s not perfect. In my  cabinets I end up with two less woman than present (I lose May, Spelman and Warsi for Featherstone), Cameron loses one, overall (in Warsi and Spelman for Villiers), and that’s not good. But while I can find several Lib Dem women to promote (Teather is an obvious choice) I don’t think we have the seats to let one of them and Laws in (I already add Featherstone remember). Cameron has a different problem – peruse the ministerial lists and there are very few Tory women in post – he needs to sort that in this reshuffle, so he can promote more next time. Of course there may be obvious Tory women in PPS jobs or on the back benches who I have missed. We’ll see.

In my reshuffle we end up with 6 members of cabinet, thanks to Lynn getting a new portfolio. In Cameron’s more likely selection, we’re still at 5. In Cameron’s, we lose Michael Moore (however unfairly). In mine, again unfairly, we lose Danny Alexander , just because I want Vince as Chancellor – but fear not Danny, I don’t think Cameron will do that, so you’re safe. And even if he did, I imagine Nick will fairly quickly place you in charge of 2015 election strategy directly opposite Osborne. Which would be interesting…

OK everyone. WHAT SAY YOU?