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Clowns: One wit posted this image to twitter, labelling it “Tory MPs await news of their new jobs in Cabinet reshuffle”.

It’s “New Year, new disaster” for Theresa May.

She announced her Cabinet reshuffle, claiming that it would refresh, revitalise and diversify the minority Conservative government.

It has achieved none of those ends.

Rather, it has turned Mrs May into a worse laughing stock than ever.

It did clarify certain aspects of her leadership, though:

Overall, the general consensus is this:

Why did nothing change (or at least, nothing worth mentioning)? Simple – Mrs May was too weak to push through the changes she wanted.

We all knew that the holders of the top jobs – and Sajid Javid – were keeping those jobs.

We’ll mention health, business and transport shortly, but let’s just remind ourselves of the records of the people holding the other roles:

Philip Hammond, who remains as Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently blamed a downturn in productivity in the UK economy on people with disabilities. He also recently claimed that there are no unemployed people.

Amber Rudd has kept her job as Home Secretary, where she has worked hard to build a reputation for unlawfully detaining some asylum-seekers, and unlawfully deporting others. Some would suggest that in this area alone, she has broken the law so many times, she should be in one of her own prisons – except there probably isn’t any room for her.

Boris Johnson is still Foreign Secretary, in defiance of reason. This Writer could mention his use of the terms “piccaninnies” and “watermelon smiles”, his offensive quotation of Kipling in Myanmar, the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair, and many more national humiliations. He is a one-man political disaster area.

Sajid Javid continues as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, only with “Housing” added to his title – to emphasize the stress being placed on that aspect of his brief at this time. It is likely that he is also keeping his job partly as a reward for following Mrs May’s lead on homelessness, in defiance of the UK Statistics Agency. He repeated Mrs May’s lie that the Conservatives have cut homelessness by 50 per cent after it peaked under Labour. In fact, Labour cut homelessness drastically but it has been increasing steadily since 2010 due to Conservative policies. Mr Javid was previously infamous for granting licences to export weapons to Saudi Arabia, despite allegations that they were being used to commit war crimes.

As for the others, well…

But the reshuffle was in trouble before it even got under way.

Believe it or not, Monday, January 8 – the day Mrs May had chosen to make her big changes – was the day the Conservative Party website went down:

What a gang of clowns.

But worse was to follow.

The Conservative Twitter account published the following:

He was not. Or at least, he might have been – for 27 seconds.

Just so. Yet he remains Transport Secretary, despite being completely unsuited to – let’s be honest – any ministerial work at all. Cue the hilarity:

Lady Jane Grayling?

The next one is a real pearl:

We had all been led to believe that Jeremy Hunt would be promoted from the Department of Health in Damian ‘Porno’ Green’s old job – as First Secretary and Minister for the Cabinet Office.

The first hint we had that this was not the case was this announcement:

So now, instead of having a Cabinet Office minister who lies about having porn on his office computer, we have one who wants to take our rights away from us. Charming.

Did Mrs May do any better with her next appointment?

No. She made James Cleverly Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party.

Let’s bear this in mind, as it may become a running theme: Mr Cleverly doesn’t like people with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities.

And the other Vice-Chairman (note: man. This may also become a recurring theme): Here’s Ben Bradley, the voice of Tory youth:

There’s just one problem, and here’s Rachael to explain it:

According to TheyWorkForYou.com, Mr Bradley, the voice of Tory youth, voted against scrapping university tuition fees; against restoring Education Maintenance Allowance, against maintenance grants and nurses’ bursaries; against ending the public sector pay cap, and against increasing the minimum wage.

Next up is a nasty piece of work This Writer is mentioning out-of-sequence: Greg Clark remained as Business Secretary, for reasons that, I suspect, were not as they were suggested here. But it is interesting that these reasons were put forward. See for yourself:

As it turns out, it seems unlikely that he had to “kick off” or “threaten” anything. But it’s interesting that members of his own party hold Mr Clark in such high regard.

And the lack of movement allows me to show you this tweet, which is again out of sequence but makes another important point:

So now we know that Mrs May was powerless to move some MPs as she wished. I would suggest that this is because she heads a minority government – her party has no majority in the House of Commons so she needs to rely on every single Conservative MP and cannot afford to upset any of them. The slightest rebellion could end her government – and after the mess she has made of her ministry – it is unlikely the Tories would take office again for many years, if ever.

One person who was happy to be moved was David Gauke, who leapt from the Department for Work and Pensions to replace Mr Lidington as Justice Secretary. Mr Gauke, let’s remember, worked tirelessly to ensure nothing was done to stop tax avoidance while he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Since moving to the DWP, he has worked tirelessly to ensure the introduction of Universal Credit is as painful as possible for benefit claimants.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon was utterly nonplussed:

Next up:

But Justine Greening was Education Secretary! What happened to her?

We’ll come to that.

In the meantime, let’s note that Mr Hinds not only supported tuition fees, but voted to increase them to £9,000. He doesn’t like maintenance grants for students. And he loves academies and ‘free’ schools that are free of local authority control.

As a resident of Wales, I should mention:

And what a representative he is. Mr Cairns has consistently voted to cut funds for local councils, against more powers for those authorities, and against transferring powers to the National Assembly for Wales.

How about a mention for the new Tory Vice-Chair with responsibility for women – Maria Caulfield, who thinks women should not be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies?

The appointment of Ms Caulfield stirred the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) to register its disgust publicly:

Former Tory Chairman Patrick McLaughlin was on his way out the door before the reshuffle got started; he seems to have been asked to take responsibility for the Tories’ disastrous election result. This left a vacancy that was filled by Brandon Lewis. But, oh dear:

And, oh dear:

And, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear:

And – oh, my word!

Now we’re getting to the meat. Remember Greg Clark, who wouldn’t move from Business? Jeremy Hunt was tipped to be offered that brief, with Anne Milton replacing him (because of her prior experience as a nurse and a junior minister for public health, and absolutely not because she’s married to a bigwig in a private health company – and if you believe that, I’ll tell you another).

But Ms Milton got into trouble early on Monday, when it was revealed that someone in the Houses of Parliament had altered her Wikipedia entry to hide her inconvenient marital association. So what was happening with Mr Hunt?

That’s right – he wouldn’t go anywhere. Remember what This Writer suggested about a prime minister with a minority government having to keep her MPs sweet?

Her comes another pearl, though – the extra job that Mr Hunt requested was his already:

What a bunch of clowns.

In Mr Hunt’s case, all the more so because his first act after his promotion was to ‘like’ a tweet mentioning the removal from the government of one of his colleagues:

Which one? This one:

And Mrs May can’t afford to make enemies in her own party. This could backfire on her, badly. And there’s another aspect to this – sexism:

Mrs May seems to have a blind spot where it comes to people of her own gender. She was extremely reluctant to act on the allegations of sexual harassment against members of her party, and former members of the Cabinet, if you remember.

And then there’s Mrs May’s apparent lack of good character judgement:

At the time, Mr Young was still at the Office for Students, having been defended to the hilt by Tories in a Parliamentary debate. Commentators drew the obvious conclusions.

Just out of interest, where do you think Mrs May wanted to send Ms Greening?

That revelation prompted entirely appropriate humour:

But this left a hole in the Cabinet. David Gauke had gone to Justice, and Ms Greening had simply gone. Who would get what was fast becoming the poisoned chalice of the Cabinet – Work and Pensions?

She didn’t have to. In the end, it turns out she chose somebody just as bad; Iain Duncan Smith’s lieutenant in the Coalition Government of 2010-2015:

You can read more – a lot more – about the woman we call Fester McVile in my article about her.

And there was another notable sacking: Mark Garnier, the minister who ordered his secretary to buy sex toys in Soho, has been dismissed from his role as international trade minister.

Some wits in the commentariat have been saying he was sacked, rather than being allowed to “fall on his dildo”.

But what’s the final result? Did Mrs May manage to refresh, revitalise and diversify her Cabinet?

Well… No.

All she did was move a few ministers around and swap one female minister for another.

The vast majority of the cabinet remain white males, and most of them are from constituencies in southeast England. Their average age remains above 50. The proportion who had a private education has increased, as has the proportion who attended Oxford or Cambridge – up to more than half of the Cabinet.

So we are left with a government that – more than ever – represents a tiny minority of the country, and rules in favour of that minority.

Ah, but she must have improved the representation of women, right? After all, that’s what Downing Street claimed. Here’s Michael Crick to explain the sleight-of-hand behind that announcement:

Yes indeed. It turns out that 10 women now attend Cabinet meetings – but four are not Cabinet ministers. So much for equality.

Nothing has changed? Well, nothing worth mentioning.

So what’s the final verdict? See for yourself:

No:

So now you know.


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