Three women have been promoted to cabinet in David Cameron’s biggest reshuffle of his premiership. It followed a night of sackings nicknamed by Westminster insiders as the cull of the “pale, male and stale”.
The changes were seen as purely political because many of the men being removed including people like Welsh Secretary David Jones were seen as perfectly competent. Instead, their faces did not fit with Cameron’s idea of a younger and more female line up.
Amongst the big winners today have been Ester McVey, Liz Truss and Nicky Morgan. All three are comparatively young women, and two will enter the cabinet at the expense of their older male colleagues.
Ester McVey is to stay in her current role as Employment Minister but will now attend cabinet. She is a former daytime television presenter and is from Liverpool, where Conservative support is weak.
The Prime Minister is hoping that she will be seen on the television a lot more, not least because she has been responsible so far for defending policies that force the disabled back into work, and is therefore seen as able to deliver a tough message.
Liz Truss will replace right-winger Owen Paterson as Secretary of State for Environment. Paterson was known as an avowed Eurosceptic, as an opponent of those who believe climate change is manmade and a supporter of famers in the face of animal rights activists. The right of the party will mourn his sacking.
Nicky Morgan will replace Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education. Mr Gove was seen as a right-winger too and will now be demoted to Chief Whip, although he is intended to continue to have a high profile.
He was widely credited for pushing through education reforms that were opposed by the Trade Unions and gave much more choice to parents and children. These included extending the rights of parents to establish their own schools, and take control of schools that the local authority was not running properly.
As reported last night on Breitbart London, the biggest upset of the night was the departure of Foreign Secretary William Hague. Hague was in the odd situation of both being an unsuccessful former leader of the Conservatives and someone widely tipped to replace David Cameron.
In recent years the Chancellor George Osborne has tightened his grip on government and Hague was unlikely to win any leadership contest as long as Osborne wanted it. Hague has moved to Leader of the House of Commons and will retire from politics altogether at the General Election.
In a bad 24 hours for the right of the party there was a silver lining in Philip Hammond’s move to Foreign Secretary. Mr Hammond is a Eurosceptic who has let it be known that he would vote to leave the EU, even before negotiations are complete. This is much more in line with the public and is similar to UKIP’s policy. Hammond will be replaced at Defence by Michael Fallon.
The full list of changes has not yet been announced as junior positions need to be filled.