Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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So what does the reshuffle all mean then?

Ken Clarke bows out of Government, having spent a total of 20 years in ministerial posts in several Tory Governments

Ken Clarke bows out of Government, having spent a total of 20 years in ministerial posts in several Tory Governments

It is David Cameron doing what David Cameron does best: the heir to Blair. But just like another heir to the throne he doesn’t quite fit the same clothes.

But our dear leader does try nonetheless. Out go all those nasty white middle-class men (oh, you mean the ones who vote Tory by the millions?) and in comes the ex-TV presenters. But Dave being Dave, he does like a bit of blood when doing his re-shuffles, so he axed his best mate Michael Gove, booted fellow Europhile Ken Clarke to the backbenchers, and even two-brains David Willetts was fired.

William Hague chose the opportunity to sneak out the back-door and announce his retirement from politics at the General Election next year. It’s a real shame about the boy from Yorkshire who told the old fogeys at the 1977 Tory Conference they’d all be dead by the time he was in power never really fulfilled his potential. Yes, he made it to one of the big offices of State, the Foreign Office, but he was pure prime ministerial material if it wasn’t for the unfortunate episode of being Conservative leader straight after John Major had been royally kicked out of Number 10. That did it for “Team Hague” and the same passion he showed in 1977 was extinguished by the start of the noughties. Frankly, I’m surprised he hung on for over a decade more since he was sacked as leader.

Dave being Dave decided to axe the only real Tory in the Cabinet, Michael Gove, from his brief at the Education department because the teachers didn’t like him. I think that’s a bloody good reason to keep the man on – he must be doing (and was) a fantastic job. But it was all too ideological for Dave so he had to go. Replacing him is the excellent Nicky Morgan but again this will be a waste of talent as all she has to do is see the reforms Gove made implemented – I wonder if she’ll be able to stop the civil servants and the Lib Dems from watering down the legislation? Gove spent most of his time, it is rumoured, spotting and tackling mandarins, Nick Clegg and David Laws as they tried to stop the Government putting children first and teachers second.

One thing the British Civil Service is good at is changing the guard in an efficient manner: she’d hardly stepped out on to Downing Street after a chat with Dave (it is unsure if it was over red wine) when she was up in lights and Gove was kicked into the dark corridors of Westminster as the new chief whip.

I’m not overly fussed by the re-shuffle really: most of the electorate didn’t know who was in the cabinet on Sunday and most won’t know tomorrow.  It’s all about the politics and whose mush shows up on the regional and national news, hence former GMTV presenter Esther McVey being promoted to Employment Minister and “will attend cabinet” – in other words she is the new “minister for TV” – expect to see a lot of her on the airwaves between now and May next year.

Dave is obsessed that it is the nasty right-wing white males who are his problem, hence the cull of many white males (arguably right-wing but not all). This will cause a lot of rancour on the Tory backbenches and in the shire constituencies (where the Conservative base is), which might counter the new female faces he has promoted to step in front of the camera.

One thing which will really annoy the parliamentary party is the insult chucked at Liam Fox. The previously-fired former Defence Secretary (a position now held by Michael Fallon after Philip Hammond was shunted to the Foreign Office post-Hague) was offered by Dave a junior ministerial position in the Foreign Office if he wanted to return to Government. Dr Fox declined putting out this statement.  This blog is a family-friendly site so I shan’t provide the translation but it goes along the lines of “naff off” as Norman Fletcher used to say.

And in other news, Lord Hill, Leader of the House of Lords, has been nominated as the UK’s next European Commissioner. Who?


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Send in the Army

Catastrophe: The River Thames has burst its banks

Catastrophe: The River Thames has burst its banks

If there’s some flooding in a far flung archipelago, the do-gooders in the left-wing quangos are out of the blocks quicker than you can say “Show me the money!” with the Disaster Emergency Committee buying up air-time on the beeb and commercial channels  and the Ministry of Defence dispatching a frigate to help the desperate people.

If the same thing happens back in Blighty, the Government doesn’t lift a finger for weeks, and when the water is almost at the gates of Downing Street there is hardly a flurry of action, relying instead on local people to co-ordinate the actions their tax pounds have already paid for.

This reality was brought into stark focus this morning when Defence Secretary (sans army) headed to the Thames Valley to show he “understands the concerns” of ordinary Britons whose houses and local streets are under water. Watch below Philip Hammond being berated live on Sky News by a local resident when Mr Hammond tells her he has 1600 troops on “stand-by”. She goes through the list of civic authority actions the council isn’t doing, the Environment Agency isn’t doing, the Police aren’t doing – and, therefore, the lady and her neighbours have had to take on themselves, including directing the traffic.

What on earth is going on? It’s as if Government has collapsed. We clearly have the resources, if they are not helping flood victims in the Far East. Do we, the ordinary public, need to push the politicians out of the way and commandeer them ourselves?

Great Britain is the sixth richest country on Earth but we can’t even manage to build a complete wall of sandbags.