Is Cameron man enough to give Cable’s job to David Laws?

Osborne’s appearance on the Marr show makes it clear he’s staying as Chancellor. But what of Vince?

Column LAST UPDATED AT 10:32 ON Mon 3 Sep 2012

DAVID CAMERON’s reshuffle of the coalition government, due this week, will be bigger than expected but it is unlikely to satisfy Tory critics still questioning - in the light of Tim Yeo’s infamous comment last week - whether he is Man or Mouse.

What would persuade them that he is not a mouse would be a bold decision to move Chancellor George Osborne and Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable from their jobs.

Osborne has single-handedly destroyed the Tories' reputation for economic competence, delivering one of the most incompetent Budgets in decades, yet his confident appearance on yesterday’s Andrew Marr Show made it obvious he won't be moving.  

All the signs from Downing Street are that the cabinet ministers most likely to return to the backbenches are Leader of the House Sir George Young and Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, while up-and-coming Tories such as Grant Shapps wait by the phone for promotion.

But the most high-profile change is expected to be the return of Lib Dem David Laws, the former Treasury minister who disappeared from the cabinet in the very early days of the coalition when it turned out he’d been claiming Parliamentary expenses for rent paid to his long-term gay partner.

The question is, what cabinet post might Laws be given?

Cameron the Mouse roared in a column in the Mail on Sunday that he was returning to Parliament today after the summer holidays determined to "cut through the dither" to end the "paralysis" in the economy.

He said he was "frankly frustrated by the hoops you have to jump through to get anything done" and he gave as an example the fact that as soon as he proposes more housing to boost the economy, Tories respond: “Not in my backyard”.

Right on cue this morning, ConservativeHome, the grassroots Tory website, carries warnings against cutting planning regulations to allow housing on Green Belt land.

Today David Davis, the former Tory leadership challenger, will call for tax cuts to stimulate the economy. Davis is speaking for the Tories who don't think true Tory economic policies are being tried by Osborne.

Those Tories want to see VAT slashed, cuts in taxes on jobs, and a bonfire of red tape to make it easier for bosses to hire and fire. And they see Vince Cable as the main obstacle to these supply side reforms.

The test of whether Cameron is Man or Mouse will turn for many Tory right-wingers on whether he can agree with Nick Clegg to fire Cable who, as everyone knows, wants Clegg’s job.

Laws for Cable? It might just be worth a punt. · 

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Clearly Cameron is unwise enough. There's a clear message here: "fiddling, nepotism and misleading the authorities is absolutely fine".