David Cameron's reshuffle does not "reflect modern Britain". Photo: Getty
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This reshuffle shows David Cameron doesn't have a clue about modern Britain

The PM had the chance with his reshuffle to signal that he intends to make a fresh start in tackling a divided and uneasy country. But he fluffed it. 

David Cameron said that the cabinet reshuffle was designed to “reflect modern Britain”.

So, we now know what the Prime Minister thinks modern Britain looks like.

He says it looks like him; and his Cabinet.

 Still white and male at the top. At least ten multi-millionaires. Nineteen from Oxbridge. Over half independently educated. Largely former consultants, accountants, lawyers and assorted bankers.

25 of them represent constituencies south of Yorkshire.

Clearly, Cameron hasn’t got a clue about modern Britain.

If Cameron thinks that his Cabinet is Britain, he is profoundly mistaken. They are only a narrow slice of the country.

That matters because his actions, his policies and his budgets are all wholly skewed towards people like them. The overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens fall outside of the categories of people who he has selected to govern the country.

Let’s face it, we live in a country which has rarely been as divided as it is now. A small elite run things, usually in its own interests, rather than the interests of the vast majority.

They make the rules which everyone, but themselves, follow.

The test which politicians must therefore pass is whether we will confront these divisions or reinforce them?

Labour is working on a programme of radical policies to confront these divisions. Cameron and the Coalition have spent four years making things worse.

They put up tuition fees for students, they gave tax breaks to millionaires but they failed to act on the race to the bottom on wages at work, and they did little to offer more security to the millions who fear the uncertainty which faces too many in our country.

The fortunes of the richest thousand people increased in the last year alone by a total of £69bn.

The five richest families have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 12m people.

Meanwhile the number of people who rely on food banks has doubled.

And for those in the middle of the income band, the value of their incomes has diminished every year since the Coalition was elected. On average, people have lost £1600 spending power for every year in which the government has been in power.

Today new official figures emerged which revealed that the squeeze on incomes has now become fiercer than ever.

The poor have been hit hard but so too has Britain’s middle class.

And apart from those families at the top, there has never been greater anxiety about what future our young people face. The hardest hit, say the Institute of Fiscal Studies, are people in their 20’s who have experienced pay cuts and high rates of unemployment.

Among the 22 to 30 year old group, incomes have fallen by 13 per cent and there is real worry about what kind of jobs will be available to young people in the low wage, low skill, insecure economy which Osborne is building.

Cameron had the chance with the reshuffle to signal that he intends to make a fresh start in tackling a divided and uneasy country.

But he fluffed it. And we know why.

Aneurin Bevan once said that the Tories hold the view that the state is an apparatus for the protection of the swag of the richest. Little has changed in the years since he made this comment.

The country didn’t need a reshuffle.

We need a new government.

And so it falls to Labour to break open the closed elite which runs our country and to form a government which will govern in the interest of the millions and not just the millionaires.

Jon Trickett is Labour MP for Hemsworth, shadow minister without portfolio and deputy chair of the Labour party 

Jon Trickett is the shadow minister without portfolio, Labour deputy chair and MP for Hemsworth.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.