Reshuffle 2012 as-it-happened: Cameron reshapes the coalition

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Follow our live coverage and rolling analysis as David Cameron pushes through his first big shakeup of the government since entering Downing Street.  

 

17:20 - A very Olympic finish

Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the London Olympic Organising Committee (LOCOG), has been appointed the Treasury minister responsible for economic delivery. "This proves we mean business," Cameron has declared. It's not surprising that someone from the Olympics has made it into power; his role will be an interesting one to follow in the weeks and months to come. It's also a convenient jumping-off point for me. The wheelchair fencing event I'm going to at the Paralympics starts in half an hour, so I'm going to shut up shop and head down to the ExCel Centre for a bit of sport spectating. Ken Clarke has reportedly spent the day at the Oval watching the cricket... there's definitely a theme here...

Thanks very much for following! I'll be on Sky News' Sunrise programme tomorrow morning at 08:40 to talk over my impressions of the reshuffle. Until then, goodbye for now.

17:00 - Could this reshuffle weaken the coalition?

We've all got a bit carried away today. Apart from a vague recognition that the coalition factor has tied Cameron's hands slightly, we haven't really considered the impact that the 'new politics' of two-party government will have on coalitions. I suspect that the effect of these changes may end up being negative rather than positive.

The contrast between then and now is pretty striking. In 2010 Tories and Lib Dems settled down to work together with earnest, obsessed with the idea of convincing voters that they could cope with being in the same building. Nowadays the general trend is towards sticking one's nose up at coalition colleagues. Forging new relationships becomes very important indeed. Where Lib Dem junior ministers are being moved around - Sarah Teather is going, and Lynne Featherstone looks under threat too - there's a real danger that those all-important relationships will be sacrificed.

"The juniors, the ministers of state do play a very important role," says Akash Paun of the Institute for Government, who has written an excellent report on the challenges facing any prime minister about to reshuffle.

Given the wider problems facing the coalition and the tensions of stability, longevity and so on, he fears that major changes are a big risk. "You'll get people coming in who first of all just don't have the professional relationship from the minister of the other time, and who also maybe aren't familiar with the informal rules of the game that have developed." Consulting with colleagues, sharing information in good time, making arrangements to share the credit for successful policies and dividing up media coverage - all these things matter. "What happens if there's no thought whatsoever put into how those people are going to work together?" Paun asks.

The further down the food chain you go the further apart the coalition parties appear. The grassroots are already a million miles away from each other. In government, the divide is less acute. But the dislocations of a reshuffle may change all that. It could become one more factor in the inexorable process towards the early collapse of the government. What was supposed to be a strengthening process may end up backfiring on the prime minister and his Lib Dem deputy.

 

16:40 - Junior ministerial reshuffle: the first confirmations

This list of appointments straight from Downing Street:

Mark Prisk MP as Minister for Housing in the Department for Communities and Local Government

Damian Green MP as joint Minister for the Home Office and Ministry of Justice

Simon Burns MP as Minister of State for Transport

Mark Hoban MP as Minister of State for Work and Pensions

Mark Harper MP as Immigration Minister, at the Home Office

Mike Penning MP as Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office

Andrew Robathan MP as Minister of State for the Armed Forces at the Ministry of Defence

Michael Fallon MP as Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and a Member of the Privy Council

David Laws MP as joint Minister of State at the Department for Education and the Cabinet Office

 

16:25 - Down to business...

Details of junior ministerial changes keep filtering through, including Grant Shapps' replacement as housing minister. Mark Prisk, who was at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, takes over the job. There's a promotion to government for Michael Fallon, who had been the Tory party deputy chairman. He will be sorely missed on the Treasury select committee, but might feel that his missing out on the election to chair it to Andrew Tyrie might have been worthwhile, after all.

In a separate development, Crispin Blunt has lost his job as prisons minister. 

 

16:10 - I'm about to go on an overseas radio station to talk about the reshuffle, so there'll be a brief hiatus in this live blog... one moment please!

 

15:45 - Tory home affairs turmoil

Now then. James Forsyth of the Spectator has tweeted a very interesting set of Conservative ministerial movements. Nick Herbert has quit as policing minister, he claims. What was he offered that he had to turn down there? Herbert, who was being viewed as an obvious replacement for Caroline Spelman at Defra, may be one of the biggest losers of the day. He's reportedly being replaced by Damian Green. Meanwhile Mark Harper, who has earned a real promotion after dealing with the perils of constitutional reform alongside Clegg, appears to be on the way to immigration to replace Green.

Herbert's potential resignation is the first sign of danger for Cameron. He has been a loyal soldier for the coalition, working hard ahead of this autumn's police and crime commissioner elections and dealing with monstrous cuts of 20%. Now he has reportedly gone off in a huff - this remains utterly unconfirmed, it should be noted - everyone in Westminster's going to be asking 'why?' until they get the answer.

UPDATE: 16:00 - Nick Herbert confirmed his departure from the government in a tweet just now. "Decided to step down from Govt. Honoured to have worked with police & driven big reforms." Not much on the reasoning for it.

 

15:15 - Lib Dems abandon Trident opposition?

The junior minister reshuffle has begun. And all the initial focus is on the Ministry of Defence, where it appears a major cleaning out of the stables is in progress. Lib Dem Nick Harvey is definitely going, meaning that there won't be a Lib Dem in the department at all. Here's Harvey, quoted by his local newspaper:

Nick Clegg made it clear that the decision was not a reflection on my performance in the job, which he said was widely regarded as having been excellent, but rather a strategic political decision to ‘trade’ this post for one in another government department.

So the Lib Dems have effectively abandoned their opposition to Trident, which now becomes meaningless and academic. Two words which, in this context, mean the same thing.

Lib Dems are on the move elsewhere. Paul Burstow is reportedly leaving the Department of Health to be replaced by Norman Lamb. Lamb was Clegg's former PPS and was one of the surprise omissions from the Lib Dems' original ministerial team. Now he gets his reward for patience, entering the department which he had shadowed before the 2010 election.

Changing the departmental balance of Lib Dems in the government seems to be very significant - arguably the most important real change of the day so far. David Heath, the bearded wonder who has been Sir George Young's deputy in the Commons, replaces Tory Jim Paice as agricultural minister at Defra.

15:30 - UPDATE - The answer to the question above, it seems, is a clear 'no'. A Lib Dem insider has told me that David Laws will oversee the Trident review as part of his cross-government role. In any case, the aide points out, Nick Clegg always gets a say when it comes to big defence issues. "We felt we would be better served with a minister in a different department."

 

14:45 - Labour's 'no-change' response

The opposition, as you would expect, is not particularly impressed with David Cameron's changes today. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher makes a big deal out of chancellor George Osborne going nowhere. "No move for a failing chancellor in charge of a failing economic plan that has delivered a double-dip recession, who gave a tax cut for millionaires and who refuses to tax bank bonuses." There was never any chance that Cameron would get rid of his erstwhile ally in the Treasury - to do so would be political insanity - but Osborne is unpopular with voters - as underlined by the boos which greeted him at the Paralympics last night. This just reinforces the point I was making below in my 13:00 and 13:30 posts.

Dugher has also criticised the PM for being "too weak" to move Iain Duncan Smith - seems like a fair cop - and gone in for the kill by claiming that, as relaunches go, this one was somewhat negligible. "This reshuffle isn't a fresh start," Labour's man states. "It's more of the same from an out-of-touch and failing government that stands up for the wrong people."

 

14:30 - Heathrow overshadows the reshuffle

Normally reshuffles are supposed to be sweeping statements of prime ministerial authority. They are about personalities being tailored to No 10's needs. This reshuffle is a little different: a particular policy issue is assuming a central position in calculations about its relative successes and failures.

The Heathrow third runway headache is such a sensitive subject at the moment that any changes to the transport secretary job - especially given Justine Greening's clear opposition to a third runway - were always going to be greeted with howls of disapproval. Those howls have been duly forthcoming: from London mayor Boris Johnson, to Friends of the Earth, to the ultimate enemy of the third runway, Zac Goldsmith. They have all interpreted Greening's replacement by Patrick McLoughlin as a signal that Cameron is ready to move on the issue. 'Reshuffle paves way for third runway', the headlines will read, and the tweeters are already tweeting.

I'm not so sure this is the case. All Greening's exit does is create the space for the debate to take place. It would be extremely difficult for Greening to have remained in the job, overseeing a national conversation about how we ought to deal with the aviation problem, when she was so obviously partial.

The question is not that McLoughlin is pro-a third runway; it is not even the most likely outcome. Most Tory backbenchers I've spoken to on the issue expect an additional runway will be constructed at Stansted or Gatwick, or maybe even a new airport, but it won't be at Heathrow.

No, the question is how to deal with the inevitable opponents of whichever scheme does eventually get chosen by the government. If campaigners had been able to point to Greening and say 'you only backed this scheme because it meant Heathrow would be protected from further expansion' the entire process would become compromised.

Last week shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle told me she expected the High Speed 2 judicial review to be successful, forcing the Department for Transport to have to start its consultation all over again. That was an embarrassing, avoidable error which saw a perfectly straightforward process compromised by short-cuts at the top. Cameron is understandably keen to avoid a similar slip-up compromising another important debate about a key transport infrastructure measure.

So instead of losing their heads over the reshuffle's implications, the third runway's opponents should actually be relieved. Far from queering the pitch in favour of further expansion at Heathrow, Cameron has created a level playing field for the debate to come.

 

13:30 - The public verdict: Voters can't be blamed for rejecting Cameron's changes

Wait a second. Having mulled it over carefully while downloading a ridiculous picture of Jeremy Hunt (head to the front page of the site to have a look at it), there's a chance that while this reshuffle might be a very neat and tidy piece of work from the view of those who spend all their time in Westminster, it might look ever so slightly bananas for those outside the bubble. You know who I mean - the voters. They do have a role to play, don't they?

If you asked an average gender-neutral voter on the street which ministers they'd think deserved sacking from the government, there's a decent chance they'd pick out Jeremy Hunt and Andrew Lansley. That Lansley has not been unceremoniously slung out on his ear completely will stagger those who have been deeply angry with the government's NHS reforms. Then there's Hunt, who is tarred with Rupert Murdoch's brush. The whiff of scandal has never quite left the new health secretary. No wonder he was grinning so much when he left No 10 earlier today. He is the real winner of this reshuffle.

There is always going to be public hostility on this sort of occasion - governments are never popular and this one is making an art of the practice. It's a good opportunity for specific anti-Tory anger to come out, too. Still, the reaction on social media to the reshuffle is strikingly hostile. It's the same people doing different jobs, some have said, and with good reason; that is basically the case. It is "more ridiculous than satire", one tweeter has said. Another called it "horrific", and another still "too depressing for words". There's a real sense of misery out there, as if this won't change anything in particular.

In the big scheme of things, they've got the right idea. Instead of wholesale changes, the prime minister has promoted one of the men whom the public had identified as a real liability. No wonder there's so much hostility to it.

 

13:00 - The political verdict: A surprisingly neat and tidy reshuffle

So what should we make of all this? Some interesting patterns emerge when you analyse the 'chains', as I'm calling them, below. The Hunt-Lansley shift groups two Cabinet ministers who had really struggled with their portfolios together. They are dealt with as a pair of failures; what's odd is that only one of them has actually been demoted. Hunt, by contrast, can paint his new appointment as something of a promotion. People may even begin to talk about him as a future leader once more. This is an astonishing turnaround from just a few months ago, when we all assumed he was toast. Pushing through Lansley's reforms may make him even more unpopular - but Cameron will know he has some experience of dealing with intense pressure over a prolonged period of time.

The other complicated chain is the Greening-Mitchell-McLoughlin merrygoround. This seems to be based on political convenience, triggered by the problem post of transport secretary. McLoughlin has earned his promotion to the transport job, while Mitchell is likely to be a more effective chief whip. And Cameron could certainly do with a bit more party discipline as the coalition tensions get increasingly frayed. This is the combination which the prime minister, as he dusts off his hands at the end of the day, will look on with most satisfaction.

Cameron has been a little bit lucky today. The biggest disruption to his plans came from Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, who remains in that job against the wishes of the PM. Cameron had preferred that he take over from Ken Clarke as justice secretary, but IDS - suspicious of Treasury hostility towards his welfare reforms - made clear that he would rather not budge anywhere, thank you very much. As a result Chris Grayling, who was in line for promotion within the DWP, now finds himself off to take over the Ministry of Justice.

Other changes are less complex, driven by the desire to put out some more experienced ministers to grass. Hence Cheryl Gillan, Edward Garnier and Sir George Young are all leaving the government. The only Cabinet minister who should feel really aggrieved at being sacked is Caroline Spelman; but she has evidently not done enough to win over the prime minister's trust.

We're left with four ministerial posts at the sub-Cabinet level that need to be filled. Added to any sackings, we can expect the ministerial-level reshuffle to be roughly as complex as the Cabinet-level shakeup. Ie, fairly mid-ranking, really. It's important to note how many posts remain unchanged: home affairs, education, work and pensions, foreign affairs and of course the Treasury are all untouched. So are all the Lib Dem Cabinet-level posts. This has not been a massive revolution - far from it. But it has been a surprisingly effective one.

13:05 - For a day which was supposed to see sweeping changes across Whitehall, the list of Cabinet ministers who have been untroubled by No 10 is surprisingly long:

Prime minister: David Cameron
Deputy prime minister: Nick Clegg (LD)
First secretary of state and foreign secretary: William Hague
Chancellor of the exchequer: George Osborne
Home secretary: Theresa May
Defence secretary: Philip Hammond
Business secretary: Vince Cable (LD)
Work and pensions secretary: Iain Duncan Smith
Energy and climate change secretary: Ed Davey (LD)
Education secretary: Michael Gove
Communities and local government secretary: Eric Pickles
Scotland secretary: Michael Moore (LD)
Chief secretary to the Treasury: Danny Alexander (LD)
Leader of the House of Lords: Lord Strathclyde
Attorney general: Dominic Grieve

 

12:30 - Those Cabinet reshuffle chains in full

  • Maria Miller PROMOTED to culture, media and sport; Jeremy Hunt PROMOTED to health; Andrew Lansley DEMOTED to leader of the Commons; Sir George Young SACKED/'STEPS DOWN'
  • Theresa Villiers PROMOTED to Northern Ireland; ;Owen Paterson SIDEWAYS to environment, food and rural affairs; Caroline Spelman SACKED
  • Grant Shapps PROMOTED to Tory party co-chair and minister without portfolio, attending Cabinet; Sayeeda Warsi DEMOTED to senior Foreign Office minister role
  • Transport's Justine Greening SIDEWAYS to international development; Andrew Mitchell DEMOTED to chief whip; Andrew McLoughlin PROMOTED to transport
  • Chris Grayling PROMOTED to justice secretary; Ken Clarke DEMOTED to minister without portfolio
  • David Jones PROMOTED to Wales; Cheryl Gillan SACKED
  • Oliver Heald PROMOTED to solicitor-general; Edward Garnier SACKED

 

12:15 - Justine Greening to DfID, Maria Miller to DCMS, David Jones to Wales Office

Less of a reshuffle and more of a merrygoround for the chief whip's office and the Departments of Transport and International Development. No 10 has just confirmed Justine Greening is heading to DfID. That completes a three-way circular merrygoround sort of movement: for DfID's Mitchell becomes chief whip, and chief whip McLoughlin becomes the transport secretary. Very neatly done.

Maria Miller has also been confirmed at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Her promotion completes the little chain that was set off by Sir George Young 'stepping down'. She also takes over Theresa May's duties as minister for women and equalities.

In a further development - they're coming thick and fast now - David Jones has been confirmed as the new Welsh secretary. Bad news for Cheryl Gillan, who presumably joins Spelman on the discard pile.

That just leaves Grant Shapps, the housing minister, whose fate is not yet determined. He is widely expected to take over from Warsi as the next Conservative party chair, but we're still waiting final confirmation on that one.

 

12:05 - Warsi to the Foreign Office?

The Guardian is reporting that Sayeeda Warsi, whose earlier tweet about her departure from the Tory party chairman job made everyone think she'd been fired, has now effectively survived. She will retain her place as a Cabinet minister, with responsibility for faith and communities, while taking on a ministerial job under William Hague (who's going nowhere) at the Foreign Office, Nick Watt reports.

In Downing Street there are still several big questions to be answered. Justine Greening's fate, for example. Is she going to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, or will she be heading over to the Department for International Development? Maria Miller, the disability minister, may be grabbing whichever one she doesn't want. It's also been reported that Paul Burstow, the Lib Dem who had to handle the NHS reforms nightmare from the Department for Health, is on his way out.

 

11:40 - McLoughlin's open mind wins him Heathrow

Patrick McLoughlin is heading to the Department for Transport, just six months after Justine Greening took over from Philip Hammond. McLoughlin isn't thought to have any views this way or that way on the critical issue of airport expansion, making him a suitable - if not excellent - choice for the job. He is something of an unknown quantity outside Westminster, having been the 'backroom boy' in the Tories' whips office. His rather jolly style will be missed by rebellious Tory MPs, who will now have to contend with Andrew 'Thrasher' Mitchell. Crikey.

12:15 - UPDATE - A tweeter has pointed us to this link suggesting that, some time in the past, McLoughlin might not have been quite so open-minded on Heathrow, after all. But I'm not convinced this is of any real significance - the motion which McLoughlin voted against was a New Labour government motion, it should be noted.

 

11:35 - Paterson to Defra

Reshuffles are all about little chains, which usually end with someone losing their job. Young's departure from government sets up the Hunt-Lansley chain, for example. Here's another one: Theresa Villiers going to Northern Ireland displaces Owen Paterson, who is now going to be the next environment, food and rural affairs secretary. That leaves Caroline Spelman out of a job.  It's not yet confirmed whether she survives, but it looks pretty likely that she'll be left out in the cold. An opportunity for her to rejoin the Parliament Choir, perhaps?

Meanwhile, Maria Miller - who had been a minister at the DWP - is in No 10, obviously awaiting some sort of promotion.

 

11:20 - Clarke 'pleasantly surprised'

Far from gnashing his teeth at being removed from the Ministry of Justice, Ken Clarke - who is going to be a minister without portfolio, a "roving" role covering economic affairs as well as national security - seems very pleased with himself. "I'm pleasantly surprised he's asked me to stay on in Cabinet doing a different role," he's just said. Clarke claimed that he had been persuaded to return to government in 2010 on the understanding that he would only serve for a couple of years or so. When it's all over, he says, "you suddenly realise you can no longer quite handle it". 

Clarke's replacement is Chris Grayling, as No 10 have already confirmed. But it now looks like the prime minister originally wanted Grayling to be the new work and pensions secretary. That idea was scuppered when Iain Duncan Smith refused Cameron's offer to move over to Justice. He wants to see through his universal credit reforms, protecting them from the ever-present Treasury threat. Exciting stuff; that's why Cameron was in the Commons earlier today, to talk all this over with Duncan Smith.

 

11:15 - Jeremy Hunt replaces Lansley as health secretary

From the phone-hacking scandal to NHS reforms: who would have thought that Jeremy Hunt would be promoted in this reshuffle? For that's what has just happened. The ex-culture secretary, who so very nearly lost his job over the handling of the BSkyB takeover bid, has just emerged beaming from Downing Street. He looks pleased as Punch, and utters something about the joy of it all. It is the "biggest privilege" of his life. And off he skips, delighted to have escaped from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Meanwhile No 10 has confirmed that Lansley is, indeed, going to parliament to become leader of the Commons. It's quite a blow for him, as he always said health was the only policy portfolio he really wanted in government. Perhaps, in that context, he should be pleased he managed to get a policy-neutral job...

The PM has "paid tribute to Sir George Young who steps down as leader of the House of Commons". That means he resigned, right?

 

11:10 - The return of David Laws

He lasted less than a month in the government before an expenses scandal forced his resignation from the Treasury. Now, over two years later, David Laws is returning to the government. He's not made it into a Cabinet position though. PA is reporting that he will take over from Sarah Teather as an education minister. Will he take over her children's minister post outright? Will, as it's been reported in some places, he take on a broader cross-government role, too? Still a few questions to answer on this one. Lib Dems will be relieved.

11:50 - UPDATE - It now looks like Laws is going to have a role in the Cabinet Office as well as in the education department.

 

11:00 - Reshuffling the third runway debate

Justine Greening, the MP for Putney, was never a great choice for transport secretary given her obvious opposition to the Heathrow third runway. It appears Cameron has now realised he needs his Cabinet minister in the Department for Transport to have a more open mind on the issue of airport expansion. This has prompted a repeat of Tory backbencher Zac Goldsmith's threat to resign, as we've reported today. "As Justine Greening goes into Number 10, hundreds of thousands of londoners will be holding their breath," Goldsmith has just tweeted. Actually, the story has been around for a while - and Goldsmith explained as much to politics.co.uk last week. Here's my story with Goldsmith from last Friday. He'd been 'threatening' this ever since the general election. There's not that much new in it. 

 

10:50 - Confirmed: Grayling is the new justice secretary

No 10 have made their second 'official' announcement: Chris Grayling becomes the justice secretary, replacing Ken Clarke. He's fairly right-wing, it has to be said; as shadow home secretary he didn't exactly hold back. We can expect cautious welcomes to that one from penal reformers. Political journalists on Twitter are making a very decent point: how on earth is Grayling going to pay for the policy of locking 'em all up?

It's been a busy morning, but we've barely got started. Here's a summary of the biggest developments so far:

  • Put out to grass: Andrew Lansley, Edward Garnier, Ken Clarke (?), Sayeeda Warsi (?), Caroline Spelman
  • Promoted: Theresa Villiers, Chris Grayling, Grant Shapps (?)
  • Staying put: Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove

 


10:40 - Lansley leaving NHS reforms behind

The developments are coming in thick and fast, now. Andrew Lansley is reportedly being demoted from health secretary to leader of the House of Commons, replacing Sir George Young. Theresa Villiers is the new Northern Ireland secretary, replacing Owen Paterson. Jeremy Hunt is in No 10 at the moment; meanwhile, Ed Garnier has been disposed of as solicitor-general. "None of us have any claim to any particular job," Garnier tells the BBC. He's trying to look as chirpy as possible, but this must be quite depressing for him.

There are now two gaping holes in the prime minister's government: the secretaries of state for health and justice. Two big jobs, but both very difficult ones to fill. Think about it: after Lansley's NHS reforms nightmare you'd have to be really hungry to get into the Cabinet to take on the job of clearing up that mess - as whoever takes over will have to commit to pushing through the pared-down reforms. The justice post is politically very sensitive indeed; any real right-winger replacing Clarke will prompt intense suspicion from the Liberal Democrats, and certainly set up the prospect of real tensions developing in an area where until now there has been real agreement.

 

10:30 - Grayling in No 10

Back to Downing Street, then, and here Theresa Villiers and Chris Grayling have just arrived. That suggests they're both in line for some good news.

Villiers is being linked with the transport job, which she would be well suited for. Grayling, meanwhile, looks like being rewarded for his strong performance as employment minister. He was shadow home secretary before the 2010 election but was demoted in the coalition formation process. Now a return to the Cabinet seems possible. Our first promotion on merit, perhaps.

 

10:15 - PM shifts to the Commons

It's a sensible move. When the prime minister is in Downing Street on reshuffle day, the cameras are focused on the door. Those expecting good news march up with smiles on their faces, some more artificial than others. This is all very well when things are going smoothly, but the case is altered when more sensitive interviews are needed. Cameron's shift to the Commons signals that a more difficult phase of the reshuffle is now underway.

 

09:55 - New ministers must ask themselves: is this promotion REALLY a good one?

Anxious loyalist Tory backbenchers hoping for promotion to the corridors of power (as opposed to the corridors of parliament) will be feeling very nervous this morning. And with good reason, according to Peter Allen, a political scientist whose work looks at ministerial careers at Birkbeck. He's observed that the role in which politicians enter the government can often be critical to their future prospects in Whitehall. "People who enter the ministerial ladder at higher levels tend to go the highest, whereas people who come in at lower levels tend to stay lower," he's told me.

Those who become a junior minister at the first entry are more likely to end up in the Cabinet, whereas ministerial aides tend to stay that way. So it's better to jump up a few rungs of the greasy ministerial ladder than start scrambling away at the bottom - you probably won't get very far. "You're better off if you can get a good first promotion into a relatively higher position, so you can use that as a springboard," Allen explains.

 

09:40 - Iain Duncan Smith replaces Clarke? (Answer: No)

This would send a signal to the Lib Dems, that's for sure. Iain Duncan Smith's right-wing instincts were reined in reforming the benefits system during the last two years as work and pensions secretary. But with him replacing Ken Clarke at the Ministry of Justice all that changes. How could he possibly carry on implementing the very liberal Clarke's reforms to the criminal justice system - especially on the rehabilitation of offenders?

Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform has been pouring praise on Ken Clarke. He was a "breath of fresh air", she's said, who was more interested in getting the job done than "grabbing cheap headlines".

He fought to get prisoners doing an honest day’s work rather than lying around in bed. He has started to shift the balance towards community sentences that change lives and reduce crime and away from the old cliché of ‘prison works’. These policies will save money and save lives.

The only question now is: will IDS continue on with Clarke's 'rehabilitation revolution'?

Meanwhile, Caroline Spelman is thought to be on the way out of the environment portfolio (her biggest achievement: the forestry fiasco which prompted the coalition's first major U-turn); David Jones, a relatively obscure north Wales backbencher, is thought to be Cheryl Gillan's replacement at the Wales Office; and Jeremy Hunt may be on the move from the culture job (stress the maybe).

09:45 - UPDATE - No 10 has said that IDS and education secretary Michael Gove will both be remaining in their places as "strong reformers". So the justice secretary question remains an open one. This is our first major mistake! We can expect several more, I'm afraid, as rumours swirl around Whitehall and Westminster.

09:55 - ANOTHER UPDATE - Some journalists are now suggesting that IDS was offered the justice job, but turned it down.

 

09:20 - Brace yourselves

This is going to be a rather long day, isn't it? Twitter is creaking under the strain of all the excitement. So I think, rather than drowning in every rumour, the best way to handle this is to provide you with a summary of all the speculation every 15 minutes or so. That should do the trick, right?

So, developments since 09:00 are something like this:

  • Conservative MP David Jones has been linked with the Welsh secretary job
  • Ex-chief whip Patrick McLoughlin might be taking over the transport role, with all the Heathrow third runway / HS2 agonies that entails
  • No 10 has confirmed that Cabinet isn't meeting this morning, after all, as the PM is "reshuffling his Ministerial team". As late as yesterday morning Downing Street was saying that Cabinet would meet as usual.

 

09:05 - Grant Shapps as Tory party co-chair?

Here's an interesting twist: housing minister Grant Shapps, who had been tipped for some sort of promotion, may have got one. He's been linked with the job by that very informed source on Twitter, John Prescott. The Huffington Post, that austere organ, is also very keen on this one. So my confidence in it becoming reality is definitely boosted.

While we ponder all this, here's the tweet from Warsi in which she made clear her days heading up the party were numbered:

08:50 - Ken Clarke clings on

The Today programme has already reported that Ken Clarke, who was evens to leave the government yesterday, has indeed lost his job as justice secretary. Right-wing Tory backbenchers will be grimly satisfied at that news as they listen over their cornflakes this morning. It looks like Clarke is not completely on the way out, however... and just as I write this, Sky News report that Clarke will sit as a minister without portfolio, perhaps with a slight bent towards economic issues.

 

08:45 - Sorting out the party

The prime minister appears to have got off to a decent start, initially concentrating on important non-policy posts. So Andrew Mitchell takes over from Patrick McLoughlin as chief whip, and Sayeeda Warsi is given the boot from her role as co-chair of the Conservative party. Her pleading to remain in the role over the weekend has obviously not borne fruit. Sky are reporting that Michael Fallon is in line to enter Downing Street; could he be her replacement? It seems very, very plausible.

 

08:35 - It's reshuffle day!

Morning everyone. Welcome to our live blog of a day unlike any other we've seen since the formation of the coalition. Reshuffles used to be a virtually annual occurrence during the New Labour years, but - partly thanks to the coalition and partly because of his own revulsion at such churn in government - Cameron has resisted the temptation. Until now.

I'm going to be following all the job changes and assessing what they mean for the ministers involved, the coalition and the country, too. At the same time, with the help of my usual selection of academics, pollsters, pundits and politicians, I'll be trying to size up what makes this reshuffle so unusual. How does the coalition affect the dynamic? And what are the risks, as well as the opportunities, of conducting a reshuffle after such a long period of stability for the prime minister?

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