Reshuffle: Give Lib Dems their own departments to run
Opinion Digest: Bold option in Cabinet reshuffle; the breakdown in trust in Afghanistan
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TIME TO DIVIDE UP THE MINISTRIES
JOHN KAMPFNER ON THE RESHUFFLE
Although reshuffles provide a rare opportunity for prime ministers to project their power, few achieve this, says John Kampfner in The Independent. And David Cameron’s first full reshuffle is more fraught than it needs to be. The coalition agreement provided a to-do list for the first half of this administration but now dissent plagues the ranks of both parties. To give each a sense of purpose, why not adopt an approach used by other coalitions, in which the junior party is given three or four ministries to run in their entirety? By 2015, the Lib Dems could be judged against their concrete record, allowing the Conservatives to pursue their priorities without having to look over their shoulders. Such a move would allow both Cameron and Clegg to show what they are made of.
COALITION ‘FRAGILE AS PACK OF CARDS’
JACKIE ASHLEY ON THE RESHUFFLE
The upcoming cabinet reshuffle reveals that the coalition is as fragile as a ‘house of cards’, writes Jackie Ashley in The Guardian. David Cameron will struggle to make changes both in his personnel and his policies. Shift George Osborne and the remaining shreds of economic confidence fall away – it's as good as an admission of complete failure so far. Similarly, Nick Clegg can't sanction the demotion of Vince Cable without radically destabilising his own position as party leader just ahead of the Lib Dem conference. If Cameron opts to change course over the economy, he will have to fend off increasingly furious protests from the Tory right, once it realises that far from making deeper cuts, they are heading cautiously the other way. Will Cameron come up with a suitable compromise to suit all sides? Ashley doubts it: for now, she sees a house of cards and a gusting autumn wind.
MUTUAL RESPECT IS VITAL FOR AFGHAN VICTORY
PATRICK HENNESSEY ON THE INSIDER KILLINGS
In the words of G. K. Chesterton: “A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” But what if a soldier hates what is alongside him, asks Patrick Hennessey in The Times. Forty-five coalition soldiers serving in Afghanistan have been killed in insider attacks so far this year. The history of warfare is littered with examples of soldiers turning their arms on their own comrades, but the problem in Afghanistan is potentially more destructive: it is one of cultural incompatibility and trust. Whilst British soldiers find aspects of Afghan culture bewildering, their Afghan counterparts are frustrated at the short-termist attitude of a British fighting force that knows it will one day leave the conflict far behind. As the 2014 withdrawal date grows ever closer, these simmering tensions are likely to be exacerbated. Addressing this problem should be a top priority. There can be no success in Afghanistan without mutual respect and trust.