PM picks team for the future
WHAT was striking about David Cameron’s reshuffle was its unanimity. This was a rare instance where a Prime Minister could put his own stamp on his government without having to weigh up the balance of power between Eurosceptics and Europhiles, the competing agendas of Blairites and Brownites or, more recently, the delicacy of the relationship between Tories and Liberal Democrats.
Mr Cameron will never have a better chance to assert his authority – future Cabinet reshuffles will be necessitated by either resignation or dismissal because of poor performance – and he has taken time to pick a team well-suited to the challenges ahead. For example, John Whittingdale, the new Culture Secretary, can be assured of driving a hard bargain with the BBC over its charter renewal.
The contrast with those Labour politicians fighting like proverbial ferrets in the sack could not be greater. Not only has Mr Cameron opted for continuity, most notably George Osborne, Theresa May and Iain Duncan Smith at the Treasury, Home Office and Department of Work and Pensions respectively, but his dynamic new Cabinet is far more representative of contemporary society. Not only has he been able to promote a number of female Ministers on merit to counter the image of the Tories as a “pale, male and grey” party, but Sajid Javid – the Business Secretary – is the self-made son of an immigrant bus driver while Robert Halfon, the new party vice-chairman, walks on crutches as a result of cerebral palsy. However his disability did not prevent him from becoming a powerful advocate for blue collar voters – his campaigning is one reason why fuel duty was frozen during the last Parliament.
The significance of such promotions should not be overshadowed by the Boris Johnson circus. If there is one regret, it is the absence of a strong Yorkshire representation at the top table. That said, Mr Cameron has said he wants every Minister to speak up for this region – it is up to the PM to ensure that this now becomes the case.
Labour’s lessons as Dan Jarvis puts family first
THE LABOUR leadership clearly weighed heavily on the shoulders of Dan Jarvis before he took the courageous decision not to join the race to succeed Ed Miliband because he wants to devote sufficient time to his young children after their mother Caroline died from cancer at a tragically young age. “I don’t want them to lose their dad,” he wrote with great poignancy.
Yet, while the Opposition would have benefitted from the wisdom of a leader who has his feet firmly on the ground, the Barnsley Central MP’s critique of the election result does offer Labour a template for the future.
Mr Jarvis makes two fundamental points. First, he says Labour “failed to tap into people’s aspirations with a sufficiently optimistic vision” – further proof of the Miliband team’s class warfare and hostility towards those determined to make their own way in the world. This anti-business approach explains the scathing resignation of Lord Sugar, the entrepreneur behind television’s The Apprentice. Second, the Yorkshire MP has admitted that the Labour government did overspend prior to 2007 and has to admit to this failing before it has any chance of moving forward.
Yet, in calling for a fundamental reassessment of how Labour connects with the voters, Mr Jarvis was too modest to make this point. His previous career in the Army means that he approaches politics from a different perspective.
Contrast this with those likely leadership contenders who are career politicians with so little experience of the private sector – the businesses that make the country tick. And, until this changes, Labour will be on the back foot when it comes to trust and credibility.
A lovable rogue: the ‘party prince’ in New Zealand
NOW that Prince Harry has been demoted to fourth in line to the throne following the birth of his niece Princess Charlotte, he will find it harder to shed the “party prince” tag that he appears to have inherited from the Duke of York.
Yet, while Harry is clearly in his element in New Zealand where he has been creating the impression of a lovable rogue at ease with himself, such tours are likely to become de rigueur for him as he leaves the Army and extends his Royal duties.
He will clearly be an asset as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh scale back on their hectic schedule; he has, with growing maturity, already become a fine ambassador for the Royal family as the burden of responsibility passes to a new generation and his impishness resonates with many. Long may this continue to be the case.