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.

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Let's face it: supporting Spurs is basically a form of charity

Now, for my biggest donation yet . . .

I gazed in awe at the new stadium, the future home of Spurs, wondering where my treasures will go. It is going to be one of the architectural wonders of the modern world (football stadia division), yet at the same time it seems ancient, archaic, a Roman ruin, very much like an amphitheatre I once saw in Croatia. It’s at the stage in a new construction when you can see all the bones and none of the flesh, with huge tiers soaring up into the sky. You can’t tell if it’s going or coming, a past perfect ruin or a perfect future model.

It has been so annoying at White Hart Lane this past year or so, having to walk round walkways and under awnings and dodge fences and hoardings, losing all sense of direction. Millions of pounds were being poured into what appeared to be a hole in the ground. The new stadium will replace part of one end of the present one, which was built in 1898. It has been hard not to be unaware of what’s going on, continually asking ourselves, as we take our seats: did the earth move for you?

Now, at long last, you can see what will be there, when it emerges from the scaffolding in another year. Awesome, of course. And, har, har, it will hold more people than Arsenal’s new home by 1,000 (61,000, as opposed to the puny Emirates, with only 60,000). At each home game, I am thinking about the future, wondering how my treasures will fare: will they be happy there?

No, I don’t mean Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker – local as well as national treasures. Not many Prem teams these days can boast quite as many English persons in their ranks. I mean my treasures, stuff wot I have been collecting these past 50 years.

About ten years ago, I went to a shareholders’ meeting at White Hart Lane when the embryonic plans for the new stadium were being announced. I stood up when questions were called for and asked the chairman, Daniel Levy, about having a museum in the new stadium. I told him that Man United had made £1m the previous year from their museum. Surely Spurs should make room for one in the brave new mega-stadium – to show off our long and proud history, delight the fans and all those interested in football history and make a few bob.

He mumbled something – fluent enough, as he did go to Cambridge – but gave nothing away, like the PM caught at Prime Minister’s Questions with an unexpected question.

But now it is going to happen. The people who are designing the museum are coming from Manchester to look at my treasures. They asked for a list but I said, “No chance.” I must have 2,000 items of Spurs memorabilia. I could be dead by the time I finish listing them. They’ll have to see them, in the flesh, and then they’ll be free to take away whatever they might consider worth having in the new museum.

I’m awfully kind that way, partly because I have always looked on supporting Spurs as a form of charity. You don’t expect any reward. Nor could you expect a great deal of pleasure, these past few decades, and certainly not the other day at Liverpool when they were shite. But you do want to help them, poor things.

I have been downsizing since my wife died, and since we sold our Loweswater house, and I’m now clearing out some of my treasures. I’ve donated a very rare Wordsworth book to Dove Cottage, five letters from Beatrix Potter to the Armitt Library in Ambleside, and handwritten Beatles lyrics to the British Library. If Beckham and I don’t get a knighthood in the next honours list, I will be spitting.

My Spurs stuff includes programmes going back to 1910, plus recent stuff like the Opus book, that monster publication, about the size of a black cab. Limited editions cost £8,000 a copy in 2007. I got mine free, as I did the introduction and loaned them photographs. I will be glad to get rid of it. It’s blocking the light in my room.

Perhaps, depending on what they want, and they might take nothing, I will ask for a small pourboire in return. Two free tickets in the new stadium. For life. Or longer . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times