The cabinet reshuffle put in place by Cameron, and presumably aided and abetted by Lynton Crosby his advisor, has thrown up some unexpected moves and effective sackings. Unexpected that is, if you were of the opinion that true Conservatives should be standing up to ideologues in the education sector who are perpetually opposed to the notion that schools should be free to pursue excellence. Unexpected also, if you believe that the department head of DEFRA who stood out as being rational, practical and clear sighted has now been deprived of any position whatsoever, and been replaced with someone with no particular association with the purpose of that department.
Michael Gove took on the teaching unions, the education pundits, and the ‘blob’, with his support for independence in schools. His reward is to be moved to Chief Whip, an important post, but before his reforms could be put in place. Also, Gove’s move comes very close after a strike in the teaching unions, which might be misconstrued as a fearful response to the Conservatives having to take on the unions again.
Owen Paterson, who has been quietly gaining success at DEFRA, including his handling of the flooding of the Somerset levels, is to be replaced by Elizabeth Truss. She is the MP for South West Norfolk and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education. First elected in 2010.
Christopher Booker of the Telegraph has this to say in praise of Paterson:
The real unsung hero of this story has been our Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, who had already come down to Somerset in January, for private briefings from some key local experts, notably a team from the Royal Bath & West agricultural society. Having impressed them with his practical grasp of the issues, Paterson within 16 hours drew up a “20-year action plan”, to do all that was needed to avert any repeat of our recent flooding disasters.
This was centred on dredging the rivers that had been allowed to silt up; the setting up of a properly funded Somerset Rivers Board, uniting local councils, experts and farmers with the Environment Agency to bring the Levels back under proper management; and a “barrage” to prevent silt being washed back up the main drainage river by the second-highest tides in the world.
Since then Paterson has kept a close eye on all that was happening, and when he visited yet again last week he was cheered to learn what real progress is being made on all sides.
Owen Paterson also had a robust opposition to industrial windturbine installations in the countryside, a view which put him at odds with the greens and the head of DECC, Ed Davey. It is a very great pity that Cameron could not reshuffle the LibDem part of his cabinet. The one person who almightily deserves sacking for his egregiously facile support for renewables, despite the glaringly obvious evidence against them, is Ed Davey. Cameron has eviscerated his own party of its talent, leaving the LibDems, the worst party of this coalition, supremely untouched.
Photo by PeacockArmageddon