With rumours of a cabinet reshuffle, where everyone would do a game of musical chairs and see how it all ends up (at least I’m assuming that based on the specialist expertise of the present cabinet), doing rounds through the British media it’s hard to separate educated guesses from blatant speculation.
There’s been a lot of talk in the press (here, here, and here for example) about Cable being sacked altogether. Cable himself says that he will refuse to move unless made chancellor, something that Cameron and the rest of the Conservatives would never be for. However, he has probably the least to worry about out of those mentioned most for reshuffling.
Why is Cable one of the least likely to be moved? Well, firstly the idea of him being the Chancellor is more than a pipe dream – it’s completely improbable. Second, he would be a very real and competent threat to the coalition as a whole. As the business secretary, he doesn’t have the spare time to attack the coalition or Clegg‘s leadership as successfully as he could otherwise; out in the open but still a Member of Parliament would make Cable a challenger to Clegg and risk bringing down the Liberal Democrat’s deal with the Conservative in the process. It’s a question of keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer.
David Cameron will be well aware of all of this, but there are other obstacles to moving about ministers. MPs often refuse to move positions, as Thatcher found out in her government. In fact, Cameron probably has a very good idea of what he wants his cabinet to be after the customary Summer change but not such a good idea of what his new cabinet can be. Jeremy Hunt, Baroness Warsi, Ken Clarke, and Justine Greening have all stated their desire to keep their positions.
Jeremy Hunt is the most likely to move, as is Justine Greening. Ken Clarke and Baroness Warsi, however, are deemed safe. Ken Clarke is a Conservative veteran, and whilst certainly more to the left of other senior Tories it would be unwise to take away his experience. Warsi appeals to minorities and women more than the white upper class males that characterise the coalition, and that in itself is invaluable for Cameron in the upcoming election.
If I can make one prediction, it will be that Cameron is seriously considering moving Michael Gove (Education). Just today, he has been in at least four interviews and is currently answering difficult questions in the Commons; this is all defending both a controversial plan to change the examination system for schools and the first drop in GCSE results for quite a time at least.
Two men unlikely to gain any position in the cabinet are Zac Goldsmith (my local London MP) and David Davis (backbencher), the former for pledging against a third runway at Heathrow yet again and the latter for giving a huge criticism of the economic plans of the coalition.
Lastly, two men tipped for it through their over-eagerness to ‘cultivate hacks’ are Chris Grayling and Grant Shapps, but remember – you didn’t hear it from me.
- Baroness Warsi issues appeal to keep her job as Conservative Party chairman during forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle (independent.co.uk)
- Clarke ‘laid back’ over reshuffle (bbc.co.uk)
- Cameron bales out of Heathrow expansion decision (independent.co.uk)
- Cameron and Clegg too weak for reshuffle (guardian.co.uk)