Tory government appointments so far…
David Cameron has appointed existing top ministers to their positions in his new cabinet, with a few new faces.
After winning a majority of 12 (with 331 seats overall), the Prime Minister can now have an all-Conservative cabinet, with those pesky Lib Dems out of the way.
So, with such freedom and power, has he executed a drastic reshuffle? Not really.
‘Steady as she goes’ was essentially the Tory campaign message, and it has extended into the make-up of Cameron’s next executive. He has re-appointed Theresa May as Home Secretary, George Osborne as Chancellor, Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary, Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary, Nicky Morgan as Education Secretary, and Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary. Osborne has also been made First Secretary of State, which effectively makes him Cameron’s deputy.
Cameron has made a few more appointments, but they’re still mainly familiar faces. Michael Gove will become Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling will move to Leader of the House of Commons, and Mark Harper (former Immigration Minister) will be appointed Chief Whip. Boris Johnson, while he’s still Mayor of London, will have a non-departmental, roving role as Minister without Portfolio.
While the legal community will be relieved to see Grayling shuffled out of the MoJ, Gove may not inspire them with much confidence. His drastic education reforms angered almost the entire British education establishment, and it’s likely he will be just as ruthless with penal reform. He will preside over the Tories’ policy of a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act, a subject he has encountered as Education Secretary when dealing with the thorny issue of religion in schools.
If this sounds more like a shuffle then a reshuffle to you, watch out for new appointments over this week. The chairman of the influential backbench 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, has revealed that the PM has made a “very open offer” to his backbenchers to give them a role in policy-making.
If we’re, as I believe we are, getting a very open offer from the party leadership to seek to involve us in decision making and policy making then I’m sure colleagues will rise to that and try to respond in a constructive way . . .
I hope that there will be a much wider conversation and starting much earlier in the policy development process, so that we ought to be able to anticipate problems and difficulties and work together to make sure that we can be as harmonious as possible in the obviously quite difficult confines of a very small parliamentary majority.
With such a slim majority, Cameron will have to be very careful to keep his backbenchers on side, particularly the right-wingers who caused such havoc for the government last parliament. I expect there will be some sort of symbolic cabinet appointment to reflect this.