20 September 2012
David Cameron reshuffled his government as parliament returned following the summer break. Most of the major posts remained unchanged but with the novel complexity of managing a coalition team the prime minister was constrained in his choices, and perhaps frustrated when some turned down his encouragement to move role.
Along with no change for the prime minister and his deputy, the foreign secretary, chancellor, home and education secretaries all stayed in their post. The biggest planned shift failed to materialise when Iain Duncan Smith turned down a request to switch his post at the Department of Work and Pensions for the Ministry of Justice. This blockage meant Chris Grayling had to settle for promotion in the form of heading up Justice. Ken Clarke, who lost his post to Grayling settled for a non-departmental post working with the Treasury and Business departments.
The Prime Minister was eager to bring new faces to the cabinet table, and with Cheryl Gillian and Caroline Spelman on the way out, he promoted Maria Miller to the Department of Culture Media and Sport and Theresa Villiers as secretary of state for Northern Ireland. Justine Greening, after less than a year as Transport Secretary shuffled to the Department for International Development and immediately sparked concern about the aid budget due to reports she didn't back the government's pledge to give 0.7% of GDP to overseas aid.
Other appointments also received scrutiny as to whether it forecast a change in government policy. The prime minister also rearranged the government architecture with responsibility for women and equalities shifted from Theresa May to Maria Miller at Culture Media and Sport, but the junior minister responsible, Helen Grant is a minister at Justice. This appointment received attention due to government plans to introduce same sex marriage. The consultation over the proposals closed earlier this year and the government are expected to respond before Christmas to the 228 000 submissions received.
In response to Maria Miller's appointment head of public affairs for the Evangelical Alliance, Dr Don Horrocks said: "We pray that she will adopt a fair and commonsense rather than the previous crusading approach to this highly controversial issue and that her record of commitment to marriage and the family will help her effectively protect marriage as we know it."
The Department for Culture Media and Sport was trimmed down after the Olympics came to a close, with John Penrose's responsibilities for Tourism and Gambling adopted by Hugh Robertson. Another department which received a downsizing was Michael Gove's Department for Education where virtually all the junior positions changed. Tim Loughton, who had previously had responsibility for adoption and fostering was sacked and Edward Timpson, himself adopted, took his place.
Grant Shapps was appointed chairman of the Conservative Party displacing Baroness Warsi who took up a joint role at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government with responsibility for faith and communities. Dave Landrum, director of advocacy for the alliance welcomed her appointment: "The Evangelical Alliance welcomes the appointment of Baroness Warsi to her role as senior minister for faith and communities. It is an encouraging sign that the government seeks to take the public role of faith seriously. We look forward to a very fruitful working relationship with her."
Photo Credit: Innotata via Creative Commons.