Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Reshuffle is Pointless

As Dan Hannan points out (seemingly doing his usual, one awful post, one great post routine), the reshuffle will really offer no difference either to the coalition or the government as a whole, the mandarins in Whitehall and Brussels still call the shots. Why is there so much coverage? Well, it's easier for the media to talk about differences in the cabinet, and it is easy to follow, unlike the opaque bureaucracies already mentioned.

Even if the changes could make a difference, the pathetic nature of the changes made by Cameron show why nothing will really change under him, whether in coalition, minority or majority government. Osborne is still in a job - having failed to do anything useful except nudge pension reform slightly in the right direction (but nowhere near enough to combat the eventual collapse). He is too weak, and not enough of an ideas man to take anything like flat-tax proposals or closing departments forward. The backbenches have excellent people like Steve Baker and Douglas Carswell who could perform the role, but there are many less controversial ones who could actually sort a few things out. Jeremy Browne could have been an outside bet, and would have thrown the LibDems a hefty bone.

Of course, the LibDems would need some good news to compensate for throwing Cable out, or giving him a non-position like Clarke or Warsi (who are both only kept in to appease certain groups, everyone knows they are both liabilities). However, Cable stays at BIS, red tape will not be cut, the EU will not be challenged and we will continue to lose our global economic standing.

Next up on the list of useless choices is Hunt. He was in a fairly pointless position before (why do we need a 'Culture Secretary'?), and given that we didn't just scrap the department, why didn't he just stay where he couldn't screw up anything serious? Now we have a health secretary who believes in homoeopathy. Given that the Conservatives are generally not trusted by the health lobbies and unions, why did Cameron give them such an easy target? How will that help push through vital reforms (let alone the cuts that really should, but will not occur).

There is one ray of light amongst all this, Owen Paterson. He is apparently supportive of shale gas and sceptical of AGW. Excellent, but can he really do anything to stop the mandarins, Brussels and the rest of his cabinet pushing through more subsidies, wind farms and other tripe? I reckon he is just a sop to "the right" to quieten them down. It might work for a week or two, but once it becomes obvious that there will be no change, the backbenches will be as "rebellious" as ever.

There was never any real change during the reshuffles of the Labour years, there was very little difference when the coalition came in and there will be very little difference from this reshuffle. The same steady decline, weak leadership and the various economic cans being kicked down the road.

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