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Five more points at the close of the day:

  • It’s a good reshuffle for the Tory left-of-centre: These left/right divisions are inevitably simplistic and sometimes wrong.  But were I a foot-soldier in the massed ranks of the Parliamentary Party’s centre-right, I would be looking on this reshuffle with rather a jaundiced eye.  Of the three new appointments to Ministerial office (I’m not counting PPS’s or retreads), two are very much from the Left of the Party: Jane Ellison and Kris Hopkins are very much from the Left.  The other, George Eustice, is undoubtedly a man of the centre-right – though certainly not a member of the Euro-sceptic hardcore.  The new appointments in the Whips Office – Gavin Barwell, Sam Gymiah, Amber Rudd and the retread John Penrose – lean a bit to the left of Tory centre.  Only the Department of Work and Pensions, with Esther McVey and Mike Penning in place, looks like an unambiguously right-of-Tory-centre department.
  • Housing may be seen to have been demoted.  Mark Prisk, who has left the Government, was a fully-fledged Minister of State. By my count, the Department now has no Minister of State at all, and four Under-Secretaries: Nick Boles (Planning), Brandon Lewis (Local Government), Stephen Williams (Communities) and Kris Hopkins, who Departmental sources say will take the lead on housing.  I intend no disrespect to the latter by pointing out that the interest groups and others will inevitably see the loss of a Minister of State as a loss of status for housing itself. It is certainly an odd signal to send at a time when housing is a crucial political battleground, when Ed Miliband is fighting for its possession, and the Government is making such a push with Help to Buy.
  • The tentacles of the Octopus Chancellor are all over…the Whips’ Office… Amber Rudd was Osborne’s PPS and Clare Perry is an ally.  Now they have joined Greg Hands – a former Treasury Minister, and now vaulted into the position of Deputy Chief Whip.  Hands is one of the few Conservative MPs to take the fight to Labour on Twitter, and is a very good appointment.
  • …And it’s all change in the Office, for the second shuffle in a row.  Last time round, the office lost four people – James Duddridge, Brooks Newmark, Shailesh Vara and Bill Wiggin.  Now it has taken in four more (see above).  I haven’t yet seen full details of who has left, though one MP who certainly has is Robert Syms. (His wife is furious.)  Bringing in both the Prime Minister’s and the Chancellor’s former PPS’s makes sense – but, once again, this is a relatively inexperienced Whips Office.
  • According to Michael Fabricant, Robert Goodwill will lead on HS2. So the Transport Department has lost a former whip (Simon Burns) and gained one (Goodwill)…who joins that Supreme Former Whip, Patrick McLoughlin.

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  • Yes, it indeed looks like being a Rehuffle for Women… as predicted here back in June. Esther McVey from the Wirral, a champion of Blue Collar Conservatism, is promoted to Work and Pensions. Nicky Morgan goes to the Treasury, thus bringing a woman to the team.  (There hasn’t been one as a Minister since Chloe Smith left.)
  • Not to mention a Blue Collar Conservatives shuffle, too… This is literally so in the case of McVey, who’s very active in the group.  She is joined at Work and Pensions by former fireman Mike Penning, who moves across from the Northern Ireland Office.
  • …And one for Sajid Javid. I named him over the weekend with McVey, Morgan, Karen Bradley and Liz Truss.  One of the four Exeter Musketeers – the others being Rob Halfon, David Burrowes and our own Tim Montgomerie – Javid is now a rising star in his own right. He moves up to become Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
  • The tentacles of the Octopus Chancellor are at work. Greg Hands, a former Treasury Minister and Osborne ally, becomes Deputy Chief Whip – a job I tipped him for as a contender here.  Greg Clark is looked after by being given the right to attend Cabinet when his new Cities and Regional brief is discussed. (He has moved sideways to the Cabinet Office.)  Matthew Hancock goes up a notch to Minister of State at BIS and Education. And Javid is an Osborne protege – formerly borrowed by the Chancellor, as it were, as his PSS from John Hayes.
  • The Government is losing good, solid, experienced Ministers. Richard Benyon, Simon Burns, Mark Hoban, Mark Prisk…these are all people who have either been at their brief or on the front bench for a long time, and know their stuff.  It’s a brutal fact of political life that most Ministers are sacked sooner or later.  This will be scant consolation to the “innocents”, as they’ve been called, who’ve done nothing wrong.

 

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