Good morning. I wrote yesterday that the reshuffle would bear the imprint of Lynton Crosby just as much of that of George Osborne – and how!
David Cameron’s demotion of Michael Gove dominates today’s papers. For all Mr Gove’s success at the DfE, and his closeness to the Chancellor, his tendency to pick fights and his toxic personal ratings have done for him.
It’s being spun as a sideways move, and the talk yesterday was that Mr Gove will have an expanded role in the party’s broadcast strategy over the next eleven months. That seemed odd – it would be strange if the PM chose to lose the benefits of Mr Gove’s reforming zeal while continuing to suffer the consequences of his unpopularity.
I’m now told that the talk of an expanded broadcasting role is just that: talk. Instead of being a new public advocate for the Tory Party or a second party chairman, Mr Gove will instead be plugged into the heart of the government, taking part in the PM’s all-important daily meetings and will serve on Cabinet committees, while Greg Hands will – as he was for much of Sir George Young’s tenure – be the de facto Chief Whip.
It all feels reminiscent of the hidden role played by Lord Mandelson in Tony Blair’s first government. Like Lord Mandelson, Mr Gove is a man of undoubted talent who arouses a great deal of anger. (In fact, much of that anger comes from a very similar-looking group of people on the Left.) Lord Mandelson, of course, was eventually restored to pomp and prominence and is now widely, if not universally, regarded as something of a giant. Do not be surprised if the same happens to Mr Gove.
RED WEDDING CANCELLED
I was sceptical yesterday of the “massacre of the moderates” line. Indeed, now that the shooting has stopped and all but the last moves are complete, the reshuffle looks to be very good news indeed for Tory modernisers. It’s delivered much of what they wanted: more talented women, and people from different backgrounds sitting at the top table. Most importantly of all, the man upon whom the After Dave future of Tory modernisation rests, George Osborne, has allies in key positions: Nicky Morgan, Sajid Javid, MAatt Hancock and Liz Truss. There’s been a slight hardening of the Cabinet’s Euroscepticism – although the Better Off Outers still feel disenfranchised – but that’s as much an inevitable consequence of the passing of the torch from one generation of modernisers to another.
EU MUST BE JOKING, JUNCKER TELLS SALMOND
Jean-Claude Juncker has ruled out giving EU membership to any new states for the next five years, in a blow to Alex Salmond. He just means countries like Kosovo and Turkey, said a spokesman for Yes Scotland, quickly looking around for some straw to clutch.
THE QUIET MAN IS HERE TO STAY
The survival of Iain Duncan Smith has raised eyebrows around Westminster, particularly considering the departure of Michael Gove. Patrick Wintour contrasts the fate of the two men. Mr Gove, “in his own terms has succeeded….multiple eggs have been broken, but there is a recognisable omelette.” In the case of Mr Duncan Smith, however, “multiple eggs have been broken and they have largely been scraped off the kitchen floor.”. For all the Universal Credit’s undoubted benefits on paper, it remains firmly on paper – despite the fact that it was meant be rolled out some time ago. Mr Gove’s higher profile made him “King of the Barnacles” and therefore a target for Lynton Crosby’s ire. Mr Duncan Smith’s reforms remain popular despite being stillborn.
DO NOT GO GENTLE
Religious leaders have united in an unprecedented joint attack on Lord Falconer’s assisted dying Bill, condemning it as a “grave error”, John Bingham reports. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England, and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis are among the signatories, as well as Buddhist, Jain and Zorastrian leaders. Leading doctors, however, have also united to encourage the Lords to back the Bill.
LORD WHO OF WHEREFORD?
Lord Hill of Oareford has been announced as the PM’s pick for the European Commission – first announced by the Telegraph in April – to general perplexity. While Lord Hill, the former Leader in the Lords, is well-known in Westminster he is largely unheard of. (Jean-Claude Juncker had to Google him, Georgia Graham reports.) It may mean that the UK misses out on a top job in the Commission, but it has the benefit of bringing Lord Hill’s considerable skills as a fixer and intelligence-gatherer to Brussels. Recent efforts in Europe – not least the failure to block M Juncker – have largely been a result of poor reconnaissance prior to the fact, and the hope is that Lord Hill is the man to turn it around.
Also on his way is Sir Bob Kerslake, he head of the Civil Service, ending a two-year experiment in splitting the Civil Service in two. Sir Jeremy Heywood will be handed the role in addition to his duties as cabinet secretary. At the IfG, Peter Riddell has called for the PM to take the opportunity to appoint a genuine Chief Executive at the centre of government.
THE END OF MEN?
“Blokebusters” is the Sun’s take on a reshuffle which saw the number of women in Cabinet rise to almost a third. Who will stand up for the interests of men now? Step forward Phillip Davies. The Conservative MP for Shipley feels that the BBC’s targets on diversity are “racist”, attacking Lord Hall for “pursuing a racist policy” after his pledge to increase the numbers of black and minority ethnic employees at the BBC. What about the white working class, he says.
LIBERTIES “DRIPPING AWAY”
The Drip Bill has passed by an overwhelming margin. Meanwhile, Dominic Grieve has warned against any attempt to take Britain out of the ECHR, and has vowed to continue to defend the Court from the backbenches.