I’M going to begin by praising Boris Johnson’s statecraft – for what he’s not done since he won the election last week.
The immediate aftermath of a resounding election win is, traditionally, when premiers are at their most commanding and able to rush through changes before their opponents have regrouped.
And, while some will say this is because the Prime Minister did not anticipate being in such a dominant position, I hope it is because of a new-found desire to make the correct decisions once Britain has left the European Union at the end of next month.
Mr Johnson would, in normal circumstances, have used his triumph to purge the Cabinet of under-performers. Yet the fact that most have only been in place since July, or September in the case of Dr Therese Coffey who is the eighth Work and Pensions Secretary in five years, would only have added to the uncertainty that has defined recent politics.
He could also have introduced a far more contentious Queen’s Speech packed with radical new laws. Yet this week’s programme was effectively a holding statement, with pledges to enshrine new NHS spending into law, because trust is so integral to Operation Rebuild Britain.
And he would have used his electoral mandate to reshape Whitehall, notably the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with the Department for International Development, so that there’s a clear link between overseas aid and foreign policy.
Yet the fact he is taking his time should be welcomed if this means that Whitehall becomes more effective and efficient in implementing change.
I suggested earlier this week that the Northern Powerhouse Minister should answer questions once a month in the Commons and that Jake Berry, the current incumbent, is sympathetic.
But should the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government be relaunched as the Department of English Regions in order to prioritise the need to tackle regional inequalities? It should be considered.
And, as the Brexit department is wound up next month, how will the Treasury, and also the overseas trade and business departments, come together to forge a new era of growth?
If it means waiting a few weeks for Boris Johnson to come to the correct conclusions, it will be worth the wait if it means more effective government with an emphasis on delivery rather than the delay and dither of the recent past.
SORRY, but Andy McDonald, the Shadow Transport Secretary, is deluding himself when he accuses the BBC of “playing its part” in Labour’s historic election defeat. As Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, observed, the ‘media’ did not invent Jeremy Corbyn’s links to terrorist organisations or his failure to denounce anti-Semitism.
The Corporation could not have been fairer to Mr Corbyn – many will contend that the BBC was more sympathetic to the Opposition leader than it was towards Boris Johnson.
It is very dangerous, indeed, when politicians scapegoat the media because it only means one thing if they do get in power – censorship.
TALKING of Labour, the party’s MPs should have insisted on a grandee, like Harriet Harman or Dame Margaret Beckett, to assume temporary leadership until Jeremy Corbyn’s successor is selected (or, more likely, imposed by Momentum activists).
It would, at least, enable Labour – still the main Opposition party – to ask pertinent questions about Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy and legislative priorities. The fact that Mr Corbyn is still in place illustrates the supineness of backbenchers.
And it is even more dispiriting to read that supposed activists are discussing on social media which MP they would like to see ‘killed’ in order to force an early by-election that would, potentially, enable the hard-left Laura Pidcock, defeated in North West Durham, to return to Westminster. Just one word suffices – disgusting.
I DO hope Boris Johnson chooses to bring his Cabinet to Yorkshire – he’s promised to take them on tours of the country – and that they endure the full Northern / TransPennine Express experience.
They then might understand a colleague’s frustration when he has to explain to his young daughter, on at least three mornings a week, why he wasn’t home in time the previous night to put her to bed.
It’s reached the point where the emotional toll of late-running trains – and lack of accountability – is as serious as the economic and reputation cost being suffered by this region.
IT is novel for Shipley MP Philip Davies to be invited to travel to London to take part in Sunday morning discussion shows. Yet this is precisely what happened last weekend.
Yet, rather than being questioned by Sophy Ridge or Andrew Marr, he discussed horse racing ‘politics’ with Nick Luck on Racing TV. The only surprise is that he didn’t mention Aire Valley Lad, an aptly-named election day winner for his constituents Sue and Harvey Smith, and an omen for his own result.
FINALLY a warm welcome to the state educated Stephen Cottrell, ahead of his enthronement next summer as Archbishop of York in succession to the one – and only – Dr John Sentamu. Although he was born in Essex, he spent nine years in Huddersfield and has vowed to help address the “shockingly real” North-South divide. I’m optimistic that he will be another inspired voice – and champion – of the North. We need them.