Tag Archives: William Hague

Former Tory leader attacks Johnson’s Brexit plan. Is it because he hadn’t heard Hunt’s?

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt: Is time up for the Conservative Party?

It could be argued that an endorsement from a failed ex-Conservative leader and former schoolboy politician may do Jeremy Hunt more harm than good – but the fact is that neither he nor Boris Johnson have covered themselves in glory.

Business leaders have described both candidates’ willingness to offer a hard ‘no deal’ Brexit in order to leave the EU no later than October 31 as the “height of irresponsibility”, pointing out that manufacturing output has suffered its sharpest fall in six and a half years.

It is possible that William Hague was not aware of this when he penned his Torygraph article. He was attacking only Mr Johnson when he wrote, “the fundamental problem with willingly threatening a no-deal Brexit, or saying it will happen at the end of October, come what may, is that this new prime minister has no guaranteed majority in the House of Commons. Faced with that reality, the grotesque expedient of somehow ignoring a majority in parliament – which would mean at worst an election and, even at best, the complete inability to pass any legislation afterwards – has reared its head.” But that comment could be applied to both of them perfectly adequately.

He wrote: “Boris has demonstrated his strong convictions by saying “do or die” and refusing to rule out the proroguing of parliament. But in doing so, however much I wish him well if he is elected, he has lost my vote, because “do and then die” could very easily be the outcome.”

Hague said he supported Mr Hunt because “I watched him, through one winter after another, deal with the strains on the NHS with steady and unflappable competence. Good humoured and rational in all circumstances, he is definitely someone you want with you in a crisis” – without once noting that every crisis in the National Health Service was caused by disastrous Conservative policies.

He wrote of both candidates: “Behind them is the Brexit party in full cry, threatening electoral calamity if the promised exit hasn’t happened soon. But ahead of them is a no-deal Brexit, with its unknown consequences. It is as if a flock of sheep is running full tilt from the wolves while little realising it might be heading for a cliff.”

That seems accurate, but where he describes these as “immense twin dangers” faced by the Conservatives, he could also be describing both Mr Hunt and Mr Johnson.

As the SNP’s Kirsty Blackman described them, the two Tory candidates could be characterised as the “Thelma and Louise of Brexit”, determined to drive the entire country over a cliff to meet a deadline.

The Tories are in crisis indeed. The cliff-edge is looming, and it seems they are going over it, no matter who they back.

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Electoral Reform Society criticises Tory plans for England-only votes


Thanks to Tom Pride for flagging up this story: The non-partisan Electoral Reform Society has criticised William Hague’s announcement of the Conservative proposal for giving English MPs the only say over England-only legislation, saying such important constitutional changes should be decided by the public, not just by MPs.

Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “It may seem like the most natural thing in the world to give English MPs a veto over laws that affect only England. But the truth is this proposal would have huge implications for the way we are governed. It’s impossible to isolate this issue from wider constitutional questions about where power lies in the UK. We need to answer those questions in full, but that process cannot take place behind closed doors.”

“A citizen-led Convention would put people, not politicians, in the driving seat when it comes to settling our constitutional future. It’s the only way to answer these difficult questions and come to a settlement that commands legitimacy and respect. It’s time to put an end to these back-room deals and unilateral announcements, whether it’s the Conservatives in England or Labour in Scotland. Let’s give citizens a chance to decide where power should lie in the UK.”

So the Electoral Reform Society is supporting Labour’s call for a constitutional convention, and saying it should be led by citizens, not politicians.

What are the chances?

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Tory ‘English nationalism’ has nothing to do with fairness

Cameron and Hague: When Cameron speaks, Hague's lips move.

Cameron and Hague: When Cameron speaks, Hague’s lips move.

Ed Balls has it right; according to the BBC he said there is no “simple solution” to the current situation regarding English devolution, as most of the tax and spending decisions he would take if he was Chancellor would affect the whole of the UK.

This is a consequence of England’s population size, relative to the other UK countries. England has more than 80 per cent of the UK’s population – with three times that of Scotland in London alone.

“There is *no* change to English tax, public services, inflation, employment legislation, company law, trade union law… that *does not* affect Scotland,” according to a comment quoted in the recent Skwawkbox blog article on this subject.

So Mr Balls said: “I think David Cameron is just trying to dupe people with the idea that he has got some easy, quick political fix. You can’t play political games with our constitution.

“The danger is that the Conservatives are now going to completely destabilise the fairness, accountability and stability of the union by suddenly trying to play an English nationalist card.”

Balls was responding to comments, especially by William Hague, that devolution was necessary to bring “fairness” to the UK.

As you can see, that is not the case – quite the opposite, in fact. The Tories want to convince the public – especially in England – that the only fair thing to do is change the structure of the UK Parliament, to make it possible for English MPs to vote on matters affecting only England. If the other Parliamentary parties refuse to accept this, then it will become a general election issue.

Hague – on the orders of his puppet-master David Cameron – is hoping that English devolution could help win the next election for the Conservatives.

If that happens, then the English voting public will deserve them!

Let us reiterate:

1. There are no matters discussed in the UK Parliament that affect England alone.

2. Even if there were, it would be unfair to change Parliament in order to bar Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs from voting. English MPs were never asked to accept being banned from voting on matters affecting Wales – that country was given its own assembly instead. If an England-only legislature were demanded – silly though such an idea may be – then it would have to be created separately from the UK Parliament – either as a single body or a series of regional assemblies. That would be, in fact, the only fair way to do it.

The fact of the matter is, the Tories want English MPs to decide such matters because, in an English-only Parliamentary sitting, they would command a 59-seat majority and could therefore run roughshod over the English people in any way that suited their fancy.

Do not accept for one moment any claim that they would govern for the good of the country. We have seen, over the last – long – four and a half years, that it simply is not in their nature.

So, if anyone asks you whether you support the idea of an English Parliament, tell them it should never be done with existing English MPs, and even if it was, its decisions would affect every other part of the UK anyway. Once a way is found to negate that effect, it might just be acceptable for members to be elected to a separate body – or bodies.

It’s only fair.

Oh, and by the way: Isn’t it nice to see Cameron and Hague backed into a corner by Ed Miliband, U-turning like mad on their position over powers for Scotland? “Commitments to Scotland would be honoured,” said Hague.

After Ed Miliband’s “No ifs, no buts” speech, what else could he say?

Commenters may wish to attack the viewpoints expressed above. If you do, please address your argument to the points raised above and make sure you have a reasonable argument to make. If your gripe is “everyone else has got one (assembly) so why shouldn’t we?” your comment won’t see the light of day. Life’s too short.

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“It’s what?” – It’s a victory for a UNITED Kingdom, that’s what!


Scaremongering: Independence campaigners claimed Scotland would face Unionist retribution for daring to hold the referendum, if its people decided to stay in the UK. It seems this will prove untrue.

At long last, a democratic vote of the people has been won by Gordon Brown.

Nobody can say this was a victory for David Cameron. Even the Torygraph which, admittedly, has had problems with the Conservative leader of late, had little to say about his role other than to say that he had been humbled by one populist politician (Nigel Farage), and came close to being “permanently undone” by another (Alex Salmond).

If the thought of seeing David Cameron “permanently undone” makes you likely to lose your breakfast (especially if you have a vivid imagination), you probably won’t be consoled by the fact that the Torygraph editorial said the same about Ed Miliband.

It went on to say that Conservative spirits have slumped, and a UKIP win in Clacton could still finish off Cameron as a political force of any kind. Is that really likely, though?

Where the Torygraph comes well and truly unstuck is in its appraisal of Labour (quelle surprise). “We now know that Labour’s wafer-thin lead is good for nothing this far from the election,” it whimpers. Do we? Do we know that? We have just seen a campaign orchestrated by a former Labour Chancellor and boosted at the end by a former Labour Prime Minister save the United Kingdom from break-up. That seems more like a solid endorsement of the Labour Party.

“For all the cross-party sheen to Better Together, behind the scenes, it was a Labour operation from start to finish,” states the Torygraph editorial in self-contradictory overdrive. In that case, Labour’s “wafer-thin” poll lead is not only an accurate representation of British feeling; it undervalues Labour’s popularity.

“The question they must be asking themselves is this: what happens when the British public start paying attention in the last weeks of April 2015? And who do they have who can have the same stabilising effect that Gordon Brown had?”


Gordon Brown was the man who de-stabilised Labour’s campaign in 2010 when he was recorded describing Labour voter Gillian Duffy as a “bigoted woman”! Now the Torygraph wants you to believe he stabilised voters and voting intentions?

Perhaps it’s a sign of right-wing disarray. They don’t know whether they’re coming or going.

But let’s get back to the by-election in Clacton, which will be the next test for democracy in this still-united nation. The Telegraph (let’s dignify it with its proper title) wants you to believe that UKIP might win it, but doesn’t the referendum result indicate that the result must depend on turnout?

UKIP won its seats in the European election on an average turnout of around 34 per cent. Turnout for the referendum was 84.5 per cent. It seems clear that ‘populist’ politicians like Farage can only win if turnout is low and they mobilise all their supporters to come out and vote. It’s the same with any political organisation whose views are seen as (with apologies to Yes supporters) extremist; they rely on middle-of-the-road voters staying at home.

Lately, that has been exactly what has happened – and we have all seen what that gave us.

It seems the tide has turned.

Practical issues: David Cameron has made it clear that he plans to honour promises made by his Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats to devolve more powers to Scotland in the event of a ‘No’ vote. Many commenters on this blog and its associated Facebook page were determined to make the rest of us believe this was a lie; they should be eating their words around now, along with a little Humble Pie, perhaps.

The timetable is swift, with agreement on new powers over tax, spending and social security to come in November and the legislation in January.

Lastly, a note of caution:

David Cameron scuttled out of his hole after the result was decided,  to deliver a speech about the future.  He said: “We now have a chance – a great opportunity – to change the way the British people are governed, and change it for the better.”

Isn’t that exactly what he was supposed to have been doing for the last four years – and making a disastrous, hopeless mess of it?

He reckons his government is going to draw up new powers for Wales, Northern Ireland and England as well, and he has brought in William Hague to oversee the latter. So it’s going to be a self-serving disaster for democracy, then.

If there’s one thing we can trust Cameron and Hague to do, it is flushing our rights down history’s lavatory. For all we know, they don’t even understand the proper way to sit on one.

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UK involvement in Ukraine is just a lot of gas

Battlefield: Independence Square in Kiev after clashes on February 20.

Battlefield: Independence Square in Kiev after clashes on February 20. [Image: AFP]

It isn’t often that Vox Political discusses foreign affairs; this would usually involve mentioning that national disaster, William Hague. But we’ll make an exception in the case of Ukraine.

If you don’t know that thinly-disguised Russian soldiers have occupied the Crimea, which is currently Ukrainian, you’d probably have to be living in a hole in the desert.

Russia says this is entirely justified, but the position is not clear-cut.

It seems this crisis started after a pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, decided to abandon plans for co-operation with Europe in favour of allying his country more closely with Russia.

At the time, Ukraine was deeply in debt and facing bankruptcy, with £21 billion needed to get through the current financial year and 2015. The country cannot call on the same financial levers as the UK, meaning this is a serious issue. How fortunate, then, that Russia was on hand to buy $15 billion of Ukrainian debt and reduce the price of Russian gas supplies by around one-third.

Gas. Ukraine produces around a quarter of its own supply and imports the rest from Russia and Asia, through pipelines that Russia controls. These pipelines continue into Europe, providing supplies to Western countries as well.

The alignment with Russia sparked huge popular protests which quickly escalated into violence. Even though Yanukovych gain office through an election that was judged free and fair by observers, it seems clear his pro-Russian policies do not have the support of the people. But Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, and most of its population are Russians.

Then on February 22, Yanukovych did a runner to Russia, from where – surprisingly – he has claimed he is still President of Ukraine. Politicians in Kiev thought differently and have named their own interim president until elections can take place in May. It is this action that sparked rival protests in Crimea, where people appear to support the previous, pro-Russian policies.

Troops, apparently in Russian uniforms, have appeared across the Crimea, besieging Ukrainian forces and effectively taking control. It has been suggested that Russian President Putin sent them in response to a request from Yanukovych, but Putin denies this. Crimea’s parliament has asked to join Russia.

There is also the matter of the Russian naval base on the Crimean Black Sea coast. This seems uncontroversial, though, as Ukraine had agreed to allow Russia to keep it.

To sum up:

It seems that most of Ukraine wants to keep Russia at arms’ length; but it must still find a way to pay back its debts.

It seems that most of Crimea wants to rejoin Russia. This will be tested in a referendum on March 16.

It seems that Western European countries like the UK are desperate to condemn Russia for interfering in Ukraine. Concerns were raised on the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday that the referendum will be rigged, but we have no evidence to suggest that will happen – independent observers have reported that previous exercises of democracy have been free and fair.

It seems hypocritical of us to condemn Russia’s intervention in a place where that country’s citizens are threatened by violence. What did we do when the Falkland Islands were invaded in 1982 – and have we not stood firm against threats to those islands ever since? Nor can we criticise Russia for invading a country on a flimsy pretext – Iraq springs to mind.

So what’s it all about?


It seems most likely that, because most of Western Europe’s supply of Russian gas comes through Ukraine, we are far more concerned about our energy supply than about local democracy in an eastern European country. The UK, along with France and Germany and no doubt many others, wants to ensure that this supply is not interrupted as this could seriously jeopardise our ability to generate power.

… And if that isn’t a powerful reason for this country to invest massively in renewable energy generation, it’s hard to find one. What possible advantage is there in putting ourselves at the mercy of another country – especially one that has been less than friendly to us in the past?

It seems the only reason the UK has for outrage is the possibility of violence. We know that military intervention in the affairs of another country doesn’t work; nobody can parachute in, effect regime change, and leave a stable democracy running smoothly behind them. We should have learned our lessons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Unfortunately, it seems that only a minority are willing to speak up and admit this – headed most visibly by Russia Today presenter Abby Martin, who delivered an impassioned denouncement of Russia’s involvement. “I will not sit here and apologise for or defend military action,” she said.

Nor should we.

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Skeletons in ministers’ closets (or indeed bedrooms) come back to haunt them

Scrounger: How this former DWP minister can claim to have been tackling skivers after he took more than £100,000 of taxpayers' money that he didn't need must be beyond the comprehension of those of us who really are honest and hard-working.

Scrounger: How this former DWP minister can claim to have been tackling skivers after he took more than £100,000 of taxpayers’ money that he didn’t need must be beyond the comprehension of those of us who really are honest and hard-working.

It’s funny how an old news story can be seen in a completely different light as events unfold.

Take this Mirror article from 2009, detailing how then-shadow ministers William Hague and Chris Grayling claimed £166,178 between them, in taxpayers’ money, to pay for accommodation.

Mr Hague, who was earning £800,000 a year from “part-time jobs”, according to the newspaper – and who among us would not like to have part-time work that paid so well? – pocketed £61,995 to pay mortgage interest and a £4,000-per-year service charge, including use of a gym, on a penthouse in London. Hecleared the mortgage in October 2009, just before MPs were forced to publish details of their expenses, the paper said.

Chris Grayling, now Justice Secretary, claimed £104,183 over six years for a London flat, despite having a family home just 17 miles from Westminster.

Add that money to the £100,000 we know George Osborne had from us, to pay mortgage interest and other expenses on his Cheshire farmhouse, paddock and other land there, and we can see that these three ministers alone have claimed more than a quarter of a million pounds – around £266,000 – that they didn’t need.

Now, they and their government are telling us that they can’t afford to pay us back £14 per week (the bedroom tax), even though the amount of our money that they have taken could pay it 19,000 times!

Having limited benefit uprating to one per cent per year for the next three years, they are telling people on Employment and Support Allowance they cannot pay the extra 67p per week that would mean a rise equal to inflation – even though the amount these three ministers alone have had from us – the taxpayers – would pay that amount 397,015 times.

They’re telling us they can’t pay the 84p extra that would bring Jobseekers’ Allowance up to inflation – even though their expenses claims would have paid it 316,667 times.

They keep telling us that the nation’s credit card is “maxed out” and the Treasury cannot afford to pay benefits to those with the least.

Isn’t it the truth that these super-rich millionaires have been taking all our money for themselves?


Woolly mammoth to be new leader of Conservatives?

The police welcome David Cameron to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. His austerity cuts are expected to cripple forces across the country, with part-privatisation already an unwanted reality for some.

So is everyone having fun atmaking fun of the Conservative Party Conference?

The event has been unfortunately-timed, as it turns out a mammoth has been found, frozen in Russia, after 30,000 years. Inevitably it will be the subject of much scientific study and debate, but really, if they wanted to look at a species of woolly monsters long overdue for extinction, they need only go to Birmingham.

Further evidence of unfortunate timing can be found in the International Monetary Fund’s latest report, which shows that the Conservative-led austerity policy has utterly failed to restore confidence and there is “considerable” risk of further deterioration in the economy. Its forecast for the UK in 2013, which stood at 0.2 per cent growth, has now been downgraded by 0.6 per cent to minus 0.4 per cent. That’s a lot, in economic terms.

UK Prime Minister – and Conservative leader – David Cameron, said the UK economy is “slowly healing”.

It is comments like this, along with the general direction of his – let’s try to call it – ‘leadership’ that probably prompted polling organisation YouGov to headline its latest press release ‘Cameron needs a miracle to win’. The poll of voting intentions shows that the Conservative share has slipped to 31 or 32 per cent – the same as in their “crushing” defeats of 1997 and 2001. Any question comparing Labour leader Ed Miliband with Mr Cameron shows significant advances for the Labour leader.

Other poll results are confirmed by comments on the Conservative conference (which I have lifted from Twitter. I don’t intend to give attributions – is yours among those below?).

Fewer than 30 per cent think [the Conservatives] have done a good job on health, education, transport or reforming welfare benefits: “‘We’ll end something for nothing culture’- Tory rich boys who inherited wealth and claimed disability benefits they didnt need”; “I could save 10bn by cutting MPs’ expenses, grace and favour housing, government contracts, offices that are never used etc etc”; “Labeling those on welfare as lazy layabouts is defamation of character and those responsible should face the full force of the law”.

71 per cent think the gap between the richest and poorest has widened since the Tories came to power; and by two-to-one, people think the north-south gap has also widened (Northerners themselves agree by three-to-one): “Misery to those without whilst ensuring prosperity for those who have. They don’t even try to hide it!”.

Just 13 per cent say the government has met their expectations that Britain would be governed well; far more – 34 per cent – say ‘I expected them to do well, but they have been a disappointment’.  Half of those who voted Conservative in 2010 share this sense of disappointment. Most people think they have made no progress at all to get Britain out of recession, reduce immigration, clean up politics, or fulfil their pledge to make theirs ‘the greenest government ever’: “This government should have come with a public health warning the size of a trillion fag packets.”

Let’s look at some of the speeches. I am grateful to the Tweeter who labelled his comments on the Chancellor’s speech ‘Osborne porkies’, pointing out some of the inconsistencies between Gideon’s words and the facts. So: “Attacks Ed M for not mentioning deficit when Labour leader mentioned the debt. ‘We were straight with voters before election’ – Except about NHS, VAT increase, child benefit. ‘Blair achieved nothing in a decade’ – Except minimum wage, devolution, academies, Northern Ireland agreement etc”.

Osborne’s big idea – the plan to offer employees shares in the company where they work, if they give up their rights to, for example unfair dismissal tribunals, came under bitter attack: “‘We’re all in it together’ – unless you’re an employee”; “Osborne’s shares for rights plan shows he’s never employed people. If first thing you say is ‘I want the right to sack you’, people will go”; ” So you get shares in a company… Lose your rights… get sacked with no comeback and paid pence for your shares”.

(This last comment is the nub of the matter. Osborne says the amount of shares on offer could be worth between £2,000 and £50,000, therefore it is possible that employers will try to get workers to barter away their benefits for what is, in the current economic climate, peanuts. Do these people really think we are monkeys?)

Today (Tuesday) Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, made a speech in which he tried to appear to be supporting Mr Cameron while in fact setting out his credentials as a possible future leader. His comments about the Conservatives being the tools to clean up the national mess drew scorn: “Boris the mop, Dave the broom, Osborne the dust pan, Gove the Jay cloth and Hague the sponge – the cabinet according to Boris!”

His self-congratulation about London’s bus conductors attracted this: “Doesn’t mention they will cost £38 million a year and won’t be able to collect fares”; and on his comments about Labour spending: “Yes, Boris, Labour was so excessive in its spending that your party pledged to back its […] plans right up until 2008”.

Final comment on the conference so far: “Tories laugh at Boris being an incompetent buffoon… Clearly the required skills to lead a country!”

Back in the 1980s, on the best radio panel show in the world (I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue), Tim Brooke-Taylor once defined ‘politician’ as “A liar, cheat, double-crossing two-timing scoundrel and lover of nude women. Oh, it’s also a snub-nosed toad.”

All I can say about that is, bring on the snub-nosed toad. I’ll let the nude women pass. They might be Theresa May and Nadine Dorries. Or Maria Miller (that would be REALLY grisly, wouldn’t it?)

Cabinet reshuffle: Does Cameron think he’s the Joker?

Today’s blog entry will be relatively short. I had an operation on my leg yesterday (September 4) and it seems to be affecting my ability to think.

… And if you think that’s bizarre and illogical, let’s have a look at the decisions made by David Cameron in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle!

Firstly, the really shocking news: George Osborne is remaining as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not really news, I know, but at the outset it makes a mockery of a process that is supposed to be about improving the government of the UK. Osborne’s policies are a disaster; he has sent British industry nosediving while increasing borrowing by £9.3 billion in the last four months. He was booed when he got up to give out medals at the Paralympics and he was booed at Prime Minister’s Questions today. But he remains in the Number Two government job.

Also remaining in post are Home Secretary Theresa May and Foreign Secretary William Hague; Education Secretary Michael Gove surprisingly keeps his brief, despite having proved by his activities that he is not up to the intellectual challenge (see previous Vox articles).

And Iain Duncan Smith will remain at Work and Pensions – oh yes he will! – despite having been offered Justice by David Cameron. This shows the weakness of the Prime Minister. As LabourList’s Mark Ferguson put it: “Cameron tried to move IDS. IDS said no. Cameron said ‘ah…um…ok’. Weak, weak, weak.”

Fellow Tweeter Carl Maxim added: “Iain Duncan Smith was offered a job at Justice but refused to take it. Therefore his benefits should be cut.”

And a fellow called ‘Woodo’ tweeted: “Gove and Duncan-Smith to stay in roles to ‘get the job done’. ‘The job’ being making educating poor kids harder and killing off the disabled.”

Biggest winner in the reshuffle has to be former Culture moron – I mean secretary – Jeremy Hunt, who has been moved up to take the Health brief. This has been seen as a reward for his work on the phone hacking controversy that led to the departure of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson from the Downing Street press office, and to the Leveson Inquiry into the behaviour of the media.

This seems a nonsensical move. Leveson has ordered not only Cameron, but Cameron’s friends Coulson, Rebekah Brooks (who now faces criminal charges for her part in phone hacking), and Hunt himself to give evidence in hearings that were highly embarrassing for those under scrutiny.

Hunt’s own close connections with Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns the papers that were mainly responsible for the crimes, is well-documented, and led to this tweet from James Lyons: “BREAKING – Rupert Murdoch to buy the NHS.”

This may not be far from the truth. Hunt co-authored a book dealing with the NHS at length, with Daniel Hannon MEP who called the NHS a 60 year mistake. The book states: “Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain“.

He reportedly tried to remove the NHS tribute from the Olympic Games opening ceremony and his record in government is as dodgy: he voted to halve the time allowed for an abortion from 24 weeks to 12. His support of homeopathy has also attracted ridicule from some quarters.

Hunt’s arrival at Health follows the ejection of Andrew Lansley, the man who worked for eight long years on his Health and Social Care Bill, that effectively privatised health care in England. This work constituted the biggest lie this government ever sold to the public – that the Conservatives would safeguard the well-loved 64-year-old national institution. His reward? Demotion to become Leader of the House of Commons.

Former employment minister Chris Grayling, a man who believes bed and breakfast owners should be allowed to ban gay couples, has been promoted to the Justice brief. In response, one tweeter asked if Cameron will be building more prisons.

This means the oldest Cabinet member, Kenneth Clarke, has been ejected from Justice. David Cameron reportedly tried to sack him outright, along with departing Conservative co-chair Baroness Warsi, but ended up compounding his weakness by creating new roles for them instead. Clarke will be a minister without portfolio (although it is believed he’ll be sticking his oar into Osborne’s business at the Treasury), and Warsi will be minister for faith and communities.

Nick Parry tweeted: “Now ‘Baroness’ Warsi really knows what it’s like to be Northern and working-class – she’s been made redundant by the Tories.”

And Rory Macqueen asked: “Who has replaced Warsi in the <issue off-the-shelf statement about “Labour’s union baron paymasters”> role? It looks really challenging.”

That would be tireless self-promoter and foot-in-mouth artist Grant Shapps.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel… The new Transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, is afraid of flying.

And the former minister for the disabled, Maria ‘Killer’ Miller, is the new Equalities minister. She’ll be victimising women, gays and ethnic minorities as well, from now on. If you think that’s harsh, bear in mind that she voted for a (heavily defeated) proposal to stop abortion providers like Marie Stopes counselling women, and is on record as being in favour of defining homophobia, racial hatred and prejudice as ‘freedom of speech’.

Beyond that, we’re into comedy territory. For example, Mid Wales Labour member Ryan Myles said: “Apparently David Cameron was planning on moving Eric Pickles but couldn’t afford the crane.”

All in all, it’s been a wholesale replacement of anybody with talent, by idiots. The tweeter who identifies himself with Yes Minister lead character Rt Hon Jim Hacker MP summed it up perfectly: “Expected a night of the long knives, may just be a morning of insignificant pricks!