This is the first and probably only major re-shuffle of David Cameron’s government. The PM is clearly promoting women – which is a good thing as Liz Truss, Nicky Morgan and Esther McVey are very talented and have lots to offer. Michael Gove has been the best reforming minister of this government, and the fact that the teaching unions hate him viscerally tells me that he has done a very good job indeed. But it must have been exhausting, taking on “the blob” every day and perhaps it is time for a new face to allow the changes that Michael made to bed in. I remember Nicky Morgan well from my time at Oxford and I’m delighted to see another old friend join Theresa Villiers and Jeremy Hunt in the Cabinet.
I’m sorry to see William Hague go. When I last stood for Parliament, he was the party leader and I was very lucky, given that I was standing in a safe Labour seat, to see as much of him as I did. Originally from Rotherham, William was the guest of honour at the “thank-you” party for the volunteers who helped in the three Doncaster seats. He must have been at the lowest ebb, having been thrashed at the polls and having just stood down as leader. Nonetheless, he made a hilarious speech, worked all the tables and made everyone feel appreciated. He has been the best Foreign Secretary since Lord Carrington and he will be a major loss to politics.
Owen Patterson is another major loss as he was a tireless campaigner for the countryside. Non-urbanites finally felt that here was a DEFRA minister who truly understood how beleaguered rural communities feel in a world which appears more and more focussed on those who live in towns. Liz Truss is a talented woman from an unprivileged background who deserves her place at the Cabinet table but her first job will be to persuade rural communities that she can be their champion.
Finally, Dominic Grieve. Many on the right do not like Dominic’s positive views about the European Convention on Human Rights. I too believe we should have our own Bill of Rights instead, with the UK Supreme Court as the final arbiter. However, I have known Dominic for many years and he is most decent and honourable man, and I am very sorry indeed to see that he appears to have paid the price for being a little too old, too male and perhaps too moderate. I do not think that the Conservative Party has a better lawyer in Parliament.