06 September 2012
The Weekly WHIP 6 September 2012
David Cameron tried his hand at an alternative career as a croupier this week as he shuffled his pack. Tuesday was football transfer deadline day for political fanatics. Such was the nirvana of political geekery on offer that Twitter counted 65,000 tweets on the #reshuffle hashtag, reaching a climax when Jeremy Hunt took over from Andrew Lansley at Health and Ken Clarke took semi-retirement with a post as the cabinet's wise old man. Exiled Liberal Democrat minster David Laws made a comeback two years after his 21 days in government were ended by the exposure of his erratic expense claims.
Political journalists bought into the fevered excitement midway between elections, with the BBC's Nick Robinson barely managing to contain his excitement. With the added buzz of the first PMQs of the term, the Guardian managed to keep their live blog of the changes going most of the week. The Daily Telegraph put together a nifty graphic which, well, shuffles.
Barely a moment had passed before Boris Johnson rekindled his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, placing new Secretary of State for Transport on immediate probation. That combined with a Health Secretary still under scrutiny for his role in News International's dealings and the refusal of Iain Duncan Smith to budge from his welfare role meant all did not go smoothly.
David Cameron will hope to restore order to his party by appointing Andrew Mitchell as Chief Whip, but with a resurgent bunch of back benchers, for whom government is barely a twinkle in their eye, this could be a challenging task. Jobs for a few women elected in 2010 aimed to show his commitment to improve the diversity of the party, and the promotion of prominent right wingers as a gesture of making peace with his fractured party.
The summer in brief
For a summer break when the politicians were supposed to be putting their feet up, catching up on reading and getting a tan, rather a lot of politics went on. The WHIP may have been absent for the past month but has kept a careful eye on developments.
Economic travails continue to plague the government, but on the back of the reshuffle the Prime Minister attempted to set out their plan for growth (£). London Bridge was sold to Texas, and now Battersea Power station has been sold to the Malaysians. Fortunately for Londoners and Pink Floyd fans the iconic landmark is not shifting to the other side of the world but being rebuilt and developed for housing.
Earlier in the summer David Cameron broke the news to his deputy that he wasn't going to force reform of the House of Lords through against the fervent opposition of many in his party. With parliament back for a mini-session before conference season arrives, the parliamentary calendar is looking a lot freer.
Before George Osborne got booed presenting medals at the Paralympic Games, it was generally considered that the government had a pretty good games. The old maxim of keeping the masses happy with bread and circuses certainly worked in part. The government shrugged off concerns about school sport and playing fields with a deft, 'look we're winning lots of medals'.
And with that, the WHIP is off to the Paralympic Games tomorrow.