Reshuffle: Lansley out, Hunt in, IDS stays put, Boris furious

Sep 4, 2012

Reaction to the big moves after David Cameron's first major Cabinet reshuffle

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DAVID CAMERON has embarked on his first Cabinet reshuffle since taking over as Prime Minister two years ago with a host of ministerial changes that have "tilted his cabinet to the right", according to The Guardian.

However, the Cabinet big guns remain unaffected and The Times stated that "Cameron's decision to leave the top jobs untouched limited his room for manoeuvre and left him shuffling his middle ranks".

Media reaction to the biggest moves has been swift.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley (pictured) has lost his job at health and been made Leader of the House. "It is reasonable to assume that he is gutted," said Victoria Macdonald of Channel 4 News. "This is a man who has lived and breathed the health portfolio for nine years."

Some will say his unpopular health service reforms are to blame for his demise, but they will still go ahead under his replacement Jeremy Hunt. Lansley's problem was presentational, says Macdonald. "His major fault has always been his inability to say 10 words when he could think of another 90 to add on."

The Independent described his demotion as an "embarrassment", but health workers did not mourn his passing. The Unite union described him as "a minister who simply would not listen either to the patients or the professionals."

The former Culture Secretary has staged a "remarkable political comeback" according to The Guardian, somehow surviving the Leveson Inquiry and now moving to health.

Daily Telegraph blogger Tom Chivers said Hunt may have been rewarded for "acting as a sort of human flak jacket for the Prime Minister [over Murdoch]: it's Dave's way of saying, thanks for taking all those bullets; now, if you wouldn't mind taking a few more".

But Chivers expressed disbelief that Hunt, who believes in homeopathy, has been put in charge of the NHS. He labels Hunt a supporter of "middle-class hypochondriac hippies". Making him health secretary is "not unlike putting someone who thinks the Second World War began in 1986 in charge of the Department of Education".

The former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith reportedly refused to move in today's reshuffle. "Iain Duncan Smith was meant to be the new Justice Secretary this morning," said Nick Robinson of the BBC. "He was, in fact, offered the job by David Cameron last night but this morning said no and asked to be kept in charge of welfare reform."

However, his decision to stick rather than twist could cause a "headache" for the Treasury, which wants to make welfare budget cuts of £10bn, something that IDS does not think is politically possible.

It also looks bad for Cameron, said Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph. "This will be presented as a reasonable response to the desires of a senior statesman, but it doesn't quite pass the decisive test, does it?" he wrote.

• The Mole: What difference does the reshuffle make?

Justine Greening's switch from transport to international development is seen in many quarters as a political decision based on her opposition to the third runway at Heathrow, and London Mayor Boris Johnson is already on the warpath.

"There can be only one reason to move her – and that is to expand Heathrow airport," he told Sky News. "It is clear that the government wants to ditch its promises and send yet more planes over central London... We will fight this all the way."

Greening will be replaced by former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin. "This could get messy," commented political blogger Guido Fawkes.

He will be missed at the Ministry of Justice says Mary Riddell in the Daily Telegraph. "His departure... is likely to mark the beginning of a harsher and (even) less popular Tory party that has turned its back on the only chance of creating a fairer and cheaper justice system."

But his new role may not be as big a demotion as some have claimed. The Week's Westminster insider, The Mole, said there were plenty of positives for the Conservatives. As minister without portfolio he will be able to offer his political experience to other departments and could become a useful weapon on TV debates. "Crucially, it looks like Clarke will have input into the Treasury and strategy over the economy."

Taking over from Clarke as Secretary of State for Justice is Chris Grayling, who is taking a step up from work and pensions. Ros Taylor of The Guardian says that Grayling will be more of an ally to Home Secretary Theresa May than Ken Clarke.

She adds: "Chris Grayling's appointment will be a shock to the legal establishment, not just because he is not a lawyer and previous justice secretaries were, but because as a former shadow home secretary his focus has been on crime rather than justice."

Nick Robinson of the BBC tweeted that his appointment "would cheer Tories but appal Libs".

New Statesman legal correspondent David Allen Green was unimpressed: "He shows no understanding of the principles of equality and fairness.  The criminal justice system is already in crisis.  The appointment of a mere sloganeer can only make things worse."

Warsi was the first Cabinet minister to reveal that she had lost her job, taking to Twitter at 2am to announce she was no longer party chairman.

Juliette Jowit in The Guardian wrote: "Warsi's rise from the daughter of an immigrant Pakistani mill worker in the north of England to a lawyer, life peer and political trailblazer in Westminster will make for a great story. But historians will also be curious about why her star fell so abruptly after two years."

Tories, she says, have turned against her because of her inability to halt the party's slide in popularity, her lack of profile during political crises, when she rarely appeared on TV or radio, and recent allegations over expenses claims.

She has been demoted to senior minister of state at the Foreign Office.

All five Lib Dem Cabinet ministers kept their jobs, and they have been joined by David Laws, who becomes education minister. Four women were demoted or sacked and only two, Theresa Villiers and Maria Miller, were promoted.

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I think Warsi was demoted as the start of a process to remove her without admitting it was foolish to appoint her.

But David Laws should be in prison for stealing...