It’s been another hectic month in British politics, and this is reflected in a couple of major shifts in our Cabinet League Table.
- May bounces back. Only last month the Prime Minister’s fortunes were in the doldrums, with a positive score of just 9.1 points. Yet what a difference now: May is up in a very respectable seventh position, with a score of +56.4. This is probably down to a combination of factors, primarily her handling of Russia but also the relatively smooth progress of the Brexit negotiations and a favourable contrast with Labour’s shambles.
- Truss taking off? The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has not, in her previous Cabinet posts, enjoyed a strong showing in the Table, regularly ranking as one of the lowest-performing members during her stint at Justice. Yet whilst she has had no spectacular breakthrough into the top spots, it is worth noting that her standing is much improved. Is it her high-profile association with the Party’s free-market wing, such as helping to launch Freer? Or perhaps too that she is allowing more of her personality to come through in Instagram?
- Williamson tanks. Oh dear. The Defence Secretary has been described by some as being on the most blatant bid for the Tory leadership in recent memory, but today’s scores suggest this isn’t going well. After telling the Russians to “go away and shut up”, Williamson’s rankings have sunk from a respectable +41 to just +15.9. This poor performance stands in stark contrast to that of Theresa May, whose rebound clearly shows that there was a ‘Salisbury dividend’ there for the taking.
- Gauke craters. The Justice Secretary had built up a reputation as a safe pair of hands, but that has gone to pieces in the wake of his botched decision not to appeal against John Worboys’ parole. He now has the dubious honour of being the only Cabinet member with a negative score – which does at least suggest that it has been a better month for a couple of his colleagues…
- Hammond yoyos again. The Chancellor’s reputational roller coaster has been a feature of this Table for ages, and he’s recorded yet another impressive swing from last month’s -39.6 to today’s +3.1. This still leaves him the lowest-rated Cabinet minister save for Gauke, and it looks as if Hammond may be confined to the lower reaches of the rankings for the time being.
- Rudd also back in the black. At -2.4 the Home Secretary was the only other Cabinet member to record a negative score last month, and today she is just shy of +13. But with knife crime (a totemic Home Office issue) in the headlines, her low score suggests a missed opportunity.
- Finally, the rise of Fox. Sometimes the dramatic rises and falls of individual ministers can obscure longer-term trends in the table, one of which is the gradual consolidation of Liam Fox’s position with the membership. From sixth position last month he now stands on the cusp of breaking the Gove-Hunt-Mordaunt lock on the podium positions.