It’s reshuffle day, and there’s been much surprise over the departure of widely-admired smooth operator Michael Moore from the Cabinet role of Secretary for Scotland to what we laughingly describe as the “lower guest suite” of Castle Carmichael (hot and cold running water… down the walls of your cell), and the equally unexpected defenestration of ultra-orange* Jeremy Browne, perceived as close to the Cap’n but also blamed for not stopping those pesky Tories’ “Go Home” vans.
But what they have in common is both being conducive to smooth relationships with the Conservatories; while their replacements are a touch more… abrasive.
Norman Baker, the battling biker, taking over at the Home Office will, hopefully, be a shock to the system of anyone planning abolishing the Human Rights Act. The news that Theresa May is “spitting tacks” at his appointment can only be greeted with smiles in Liberal camps. And having Susan Kramer take up the mantle at Transport might well be the Lib Dems setting a marker against any Conservatory about-face on Heathrow runways.
And the laird of Carmichael, as a former Chief Whip, is used to – as the saying goes – putting a bit of stick about. Bless Alistair: he greeted the news of my daddies’ engagement with a rumbled: “I hope ye’ll be every bit as happi as we ave bin.” Which we’re sure wasn’t a threat. As MP for Orkney and Shetland he’s well placed – geographically as well as figuratively – to say to Alex Salmond: “we don’t want ruling by a distant elite… in Edinburgh either!”
Alistair at an informal session in the Whips' office
Caron is right that it’s a loss to see Mr Moore go – but perhaps a role in preparing for any future Coalition negotiations could be placed in his capable hands. Alas, poor Jeremy, the party may well be more cheering the drafting of your replacement.
What does it mean? Well you hardly need to cast the runes: there’s a General Election coming in less than eighteen months, simples.
*Some might say turned out to be more of a Lemon others that he went native and became a Mandarin.