Reshuffle: why Norman Baker's Home Office job is 'bonkers'
Moving 'conspiracy theorist' Baker to Home Office is biggest shock in today's shake-up of junior ministers
THE appointment of Lib Dem Norman Baker as Home Office minister in today's cabinet reshuffle is "bonkers", writes Dan Hodges in the Daily Telegraph.
Baker, who has been moved from his job as transport minister, is a "conspiracy theorist", says Hodges. He bases his claim on the MP's 2007 book The Strange Death of Dr David Kelly which claims that the former MoD weapons inspector was "murdered", possibly by an Iraqi hit team and the crime was covered up by the British government.
"How is it possible that a man who believes the British security services were either directly involved in murdering – or covering up the murder of – David Kelly now be a Minister at the Home Office with the sensitive security responsibilities that entails?" asks Hodges. "Come to that, if Baker thinks mysterious hit squads and cover-up teams are on the loose, how is he going to feel working late at night in the bowels of the Home Office?"
Norman Baker's first action on entering the Home Office? Requesting his own MI5 file, presumably...
— Tim Shipman (Mail) (@ShippersUnbound) October 7, 2013
Baker will be replaced as Transport minister by his Lib Dem colleague Baroness Kramer. Here are some of the other key changes from today's reshuffle:
Alastair Carmichael becomes Secretary of State for Scotland: The replacement of Michael Moore – the only minister to lose his job in today's reshuffle – by Carmichael is seen as significant. The BBC's chief political correspondent, Norman Smith, says the move might be explained by David Cameron and Nick Clegg's desire to have a "more combative figure" in the job to take the fight to Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond in the run-up to the referendum on Scotland remaining part of the UK. Carmichael has been replaced in his previous role as Lib Dem chief whip by local government minister Don Foster.
Sajid Javid becomes Financial Secretary to the Treasury: Javid, a bus driver's son who grew up in a "crime-ridden" part of Bristol, has been tipped as a future Tory chancellor, says the Daily Mail. He replaces Greg Clark who moves to the Cabinet Office.
Esther McVey becomes Work and Pensions Minister: The fact that the former TV presenter is a woman from the north of England is important, says the Mail. The 45-year-old, who became Conservative MP for Wirral West on her native Merseyside, is currently Minister for the Disabled. She replaces Mark Hoban.
Mike Penning becomes Junior Work and Pensions Minister: The Hemel Hempstead MP says he faces a "steep learning curve" to adjust to a role that will see him working alongside Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith.
Andrew Robathan becomes Northern Ireland Minister: Robathan takes over Penning's old job. The 62-year-old served in the Coldstream Guards and SAS between 1974 and 1989, and briefly rejoined the Army in 1991 during the first Gulf War. ·