Comment: How the reshuffle affects the Lib Dems

Charlotte Henry: 'David Cameron didn't set the world alight when the reshuffle finally came'
Charlotte Henry: 'David Cameron didn't set the world alight when the reshuffle finally came'

By Charlotte Henry

After waiting two and a half years for a reshuffle, David Cameron didn't set the world alight when it finally came. The changes may be of interest to Westminster watchers, but with the holders of the great offices of state keeping their jobs, there will be little to grab the attention of those outside the beltway.

On the Lib Dem side, all five Cabinet secretaries remain in place.  There is the issue that there are not that many Lib Dems, and of them there are a few you wouldn't really want to be ministers (Mike Hancock for the Foreign Office anyone? No?) It all means Nick Clegg's hands were rather tied.

That said, Vince Cable can probably consider himself rather lucky, once again, to still have his job. It's noticeable though that Conservative deputy chairman Michael Fallon and the well-regarded Matt Hancock will supervise him. Both have become ministers in his Business Department. It seems that having those two on the inside was easier than trying to move, or remove, Cable.

It is in the more junior ranks where there have been moves for the Lib Dems. Jo Swinson has finally been promoted to become a minister in the Business Department. She is popular within the party, a good TV performer, and a talented female politician. I'd have made her Scottish Secretary .

Sarah Teather never seemed to meet eye to eye with Michael Gove (uhum) and she can now focus on a very tough fight to hold her seat. David Laws will replace her. 

Laws is a serious intellect and has been a big miss from the Lib Dem frontline team. He is the architect of the government's pupil premium policy from within the Lib Dems, and it's easy to see him forming an effective partnership with the liberally inclined Michael Gove, as well as bolstering the Lib Dem's policy power roaming Whitehall.

Of the Lib Dems leaving government, I was surprised to see Paul Burstow go. He was exceptionally loyal in health, despite the controversy that surrounded NHS reform. In many ways he helped paved the way for the reform's final passage, and should have been rewarded for such loyalty with a ministerial role.

With Nick Harvey leaving defence, and Jeremy Browne moving to the Home Office, there is now no Lib Dem representation in the major foreign policy departments. Lynne Featherstone is at international development, but I can see a row on Trident brewing.

On the Tory side, Lib Dems are disappointed and worried about the replacement of honorary member Ken Clarke with Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary. There is also some concern about Maria Miller, who has voted against much equality legislation and for Jeremy Hunt at health.

All in all, it was a fairly insipid reshuffle. While the Tories may have tacked to the right, the Lib Dems are at least in a position to exert more influence, with some significant and bolstering appointments lower down the pecking order.

After interning in parliament for Lib Dem MP Don Foster, Charlotte began working with clients to develop their social and web presence, as well as running websites. She has worked with a wide range of commercial, political, and third sector clients, and runs the blog Charlotte often appears in the media commenting on political issues, and stood for the Lib Dems in the 2012 Greater London Assembly elections. She is @charlotteahenry on Twitter.

The opinions in's Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.


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