We learnt more details about Cameron’s ministerial team today, and his choice of personnel exposes Tory thinking in certain key policy areas. The holders of the three key jobs are unchanged with Osborne, May and Hammond remaining in post at the Treasury, Home Office and Foreign Office respectively. Jeremy Hunt remains at Health demonstrating that acting disgracefully whilst in office need not harm your career.
Surprisingly maybe to some, Iain Duncan Smith kept his job at the DWP. I would have thought the thinking there is that people already hate Duncan Smith, so why ruin someone else’s career when they can let him force through an extra £12bn in welfare cuts? Given the track record of IDS, it seems unlikely to end in anything but disaster.
Being in favour with George Osborne seems to be good for your career. Key allies Sajid Javed, Amber Rudd and Matthew Hancock all got promotions. Hancock in particular is someone with no obvious talents who was slavishly loyal throughout the last Parliament, never shy of going on TV to defend the indefensible. He seems to have got his reward.
Other appointments include John Whittingdale – a man who doesn’t think the BBC should exist – appointed as culture secretary, and Michael Gove at Justice (who surely can’t be any worse than Chris Grayling). Boris Johnson – for no good reason that I can discern – gets a seat at political cabinet whilst he tries to combine the full time job of being an MP with the full time job of being Mayor of London.
Finally, Priti Patel – one of the most free market Tories – is given the job of Employment Minister. Expect lots of talk of ‘personal responsibility’ and not much support for those out of work.
There is a remarkable stability to Cameron’s Cabinet. Most of the top jobs are still with the same people as the last Parliament. There were favours given to key allies, and the appointment of a pro-Murdoch, anti-BBC Culture Secretary speaks volumes, while we must still watch this space for the inevitable downfall of IDS at Work and Pensions.