British PM’s half-hearted Cabinet reshuffle is a disaster for her government and provides major boost to the Labour Party.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has shown through her Cabinet reshuffle on Monday that she is not in control of the ruling Conservative Party and she can be easily cajoled by her MPs to change decisions. As a result, the much-hyped over Cabinet changes have led to a further factional battle within the Tories, giving a big handle to the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in stepping up a campaign for the ouster of a flip-flop regime.
The Prime Minister was shown in poor light when senior members of the Cabinet refused to move as desired by her and Justice Greening quit the Government after turning down the portfolio of work and pensions secretary. The entire process of announcements showed that the PM was not in command and the powerful MPs were working till the last month to get portfolios according to their choice, without agreeing to what the PM wants. The result was a total confusion with conflicting announcements through the Party twitter account. A series of botches and glitches marked the announcements putting the Party supporters in disarray.
Transport secretary Chris Graying was incorrectly revealed as Party Chairman on the Party's twitter account, it was broadcast by the TV channels but soon, the correction was made and Brandon Lewis was made the Party head. In an age of high tech communications, the Conservative Party's website was hit by glitches and for long, the public, especially the Party supporters had no access to it. This digital failure of the Tory camp, including the twitter account of the PM's office, indicated once again that the Labour Party is far more advanced these days in the technical handling of the social media.
The resignation of Justice Greening created a furore among the Tory leaders since she had worked hard to improve the Party's popularity with teachers and had focused heavily on technical education and social mobility. Greening had been seen too close to the teaching trade unions and resistant to the education policies of the PM. It is learnt that May did not like her stance, often understood as too critical, on some of the economic policies of the government. Greening was replaced by Damian Hinds as education secretary while Esther Mcvey was named work and pensions secretary.
The Labour Party was upbeat at the impact of the Cabinet reshuffle. The party leaders said that the coming days will witness a further intensification of the pressure against the PM and May's flexibility in taking decisions will be further eroded. At a time when a strong leadership is needed, May's hotchpotch reshuffle has encouraged the Labour to fight more aggressively against the austere policies of the May government.
In the reshuffle, David Lidington has been appointed as the Minister for the Cabinet Office, replacing Damian Green, who was sacked by the government last month after admitting to lying about pornography found on his Commons computer.
But former justice secretary Lidington — replaced by Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke — has not been given the title of First Secretary of State, which marked his predecessor Green out as May's effective deputy.
Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon argued the rapid changing of justice secretaries is detrimental to the system. He said: "The Tories are now on their fourth justice secretary in just 18 months. This revolving-door approach shows the absolute disdain with which the Tories are treating our justice system. Constant change at the top is worsening the deep crisis in our justice system caused by huge cuts."
Sajid Javid's job title was tweaked to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government. Previously, the title for his job, in which he is responsible for overseeing the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, did not mention housing. New party chairman Lewis, the former housing minister, had warned against strengthening fire safety regulations to include sprinklers to residential properties, saying that it would discourage house builders.
The reshuffle also saw the unexpected departure of Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, who quit because of an impending major surgery to remove a small lesion in his right lung. Anti-abortion MP Maria Caulfield was, bizarrely, given the inappropriate post of Tory vice-chair for women. The Lewes MP said she was "delighted" with the appointment. Shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler called it "appalling."
The shadow PM Jeremy Corbyn told Labour MPs that the impact of Tory austerity was hitting home in 2018 and the country was suffering the most during this winter. The May government has dodged the real issues once again and reshuffled the pack in a meaningless direction. The Left trade unions are intensifying their struggle and it is quite likely that the working class and the white collar employees will move in a united manner in the coming days against the policies of the May government. Seasoned political observers do not rule out some desertions from May's pack of MPs this year and a crippling crisis subsequently clutching the Government.
(The author is Editor-in-Chief of IPA. The views expressed are strictly personal.)