So the big stories today are about Gove and the picture stories are about McVey. Cue a huge outpouring of hand-wringing grief and excitement from journalists. Did we mention that Michael Gove used to be a journalist, and Esther McVey used to be on TV which is almost nearly sort of the same thing?
Except that Esther McVey didn’t actually become a fully-fledged secretary of state. She has the right to attend Cabinet but it’s not quite the same thing. Many journalists haven’t pointed that out, because it doesn’t fit their narrative that billions of women have stormed the Cabinet room in an apparently terrible moment of politically-correct positive discrimi – I really can’t be bothered to finish that sentence. The fact is that in a large proportion of the changes, a white male has succeeded a white male. It’s ridiculous to suggest that the reshuffle is a masterpiece of window-dressing.
Equally, I’m not sure that we know what the full meaning of the reshuffle is and we may not for a while. After all, Sam Gyimah’s appointment to the DfE was made after Labour pointed out that everyone in the new Education team was educated at some point privately. So it is possible that there were some knee-jerk appointments. Even at lunchtime on Thursday, the DfE’s website has not been updated with the responsibilities of Messrs Gyimah and Gibb, though we at the cafe wish them well.
There was to a certain extent balance. Yes, some elderly men were jettisoned but what are we to make of the appointment to the MOD of Julian Brazier, who is 61 next week. Ken Clarke, more popular outside his party than in it, is out. Michael Gove, more popular inside his party and members of the commentariat than out of it, is down. Liz Truss, scourge of the Turnip Taliban in her own constituency party is now secretary of state for turnips and other farm-related and rural things. Truss’s appointment seems to be where the main story lies, but because it doesn’t fit the narrative, barely anyone has picked it up.
That’s not to say that I think my analysis of the reshuffle is necessarily better than anyone else’s. But I would like to read something a bit more fresh. Personally I don’t want to read another article about how Cameron-has-over-promoted-women-though-actually-there-aren’t-that-many-in-the-Cabinet-after-all. David Cameron’s (sensible) aversion to reshuffles means that perhaps journalists have forgotten how to write about them. Maybe it’s time the journalists had a shake-up too?
This was first published on 16 July and updated on 17 July.