151103 Cabinet ages
  • Great expectations… Sometimes you embark on a spreadsheet excepting to arrive at a particular destination. That was certainly the case when I started looking into the average age of David Cameron’s Cabinet. Taking the age of each full Cabinet minister, in months and years, on the dates of major reshuffles, I suspected that they’d be getting younger on the whole. In fact, I thought the headline to this post might be: Cameron’s current Cabinet is his youngest yet.
  • …are sometimes dashed. But the numbers told a different and unexpected story. The average age of Cameron’s Cabinet hasn’t come down at all. It’s hardly changed. It was 50 years and 9 months in May 2010, then it’s been 50 years and 10 months after every major reshuffle since. This is so consistent – almost down to the day – that it seems to be by design.
  • The ageing of Cameron’s Cabinet. Design doesn’t explain it, however. Coincidence does, as well as a simple fact of life: that people grow older. Some of the elder ministers, such as Kenneth Clarke and Vince Cable, may no longer remain to push up the average, but everyone else has aged to compensate. In the first Cameron Cabinet there were three ministers aged under 40. At the appointment of the current Cabinet there was just one. Cameron himself has gone from being the 17th oldest (at 43) to the 11th (at 48).
  • The grey shield wall. Political trivia this may be, but it’s also a corollary to another To The Point post. Prime Ministers are getting younger. At least in recent years, their Cabinets are not. Government is always a place where even the sprightliest adolescent can surround himself with grey heads.
  • Further into the past. And what about Cabinets before 2010? A promise: I shall sift through all the names and all their dates for a future post. In the meantime, did you know that Ed Davey’s birthday is Christmas Day? I didn’t before a few days ago. But now I have the spreadsheet.