by Renie Anjeh
The reshuffle is over. William Hague dramatically resigned as foreign secretary and has announced that he will retire from politics in 2015 after 26 years as an MP. Ken Clarke’s ministerial career – which began under Ted Heath in 1972 – has come to a close. Teachers and pupils (and probably Theresa May) rejoiced when Michael Gove was demoted to the humble role of chief whip. The reshuffle was not just the equivalent of football transfer day for political anoraks, it was the most important reshuffle in David Cameron’s premiership.
The reaction to the reshuffle has been varied. Dan Hodges (the prime minister’s favourite columnist) called it a ‘strange’ reshuffle whilst Charles Moore labelled it as ‘the worst reshuffle in 25 years’. The official line from the Labour party was that the reshuffle was the ‘massacre of the moderates’ and almost every single tweeting Labour MP repeated that message religiously as the reshuffle unfolded (probably with encouragement from the whips). However, the party’s claim was demonstrably untrue and actually highlighted a failure on our side to truly understand our political enemies.
The departure of one nation Tories such as Clarke, Young and Damian Green is down to the political longevity rather than their politics. Dominic Grieve may be a supporter the Human Rights Act but he is also an opponent of HS2 which may have also counted against him. Although, David Willetts and Alan Duncan are the godfathers of Tory modernisation (‘Tory Taliban’ was coined by Duncan), it is wrong to suggest that they are One Nation Tories.
They are Thatcherites who in spite of their Eurosceptism and economic liberalism, hold very socially liberal views. If the reshuffle was a cull of the moderates, as Labour yesterday, then since when did Owen Paterson and David Jones become moderates?