Government reshuffle ahead of 2014 independence referendum

In what is perhaps David Cameron’s widest ranging reshuffle since he took office as Prime Minister in 2010, Liberal Democrat Michael Moore has been replaced by Alistair Carmichael as Scottish Secretary

Photo Credit: Cabinet Office

Photo Credit: Cabinet Office

The decision came on Monday in what was expected by commentators to be a sweeping reshuffle in mainly low and middle ranking positions, for both parties in the coalition.

The replacement of Moore with Carmichael comes ahead of next year’s Scottish independence referendum. Moore said he was “disappointed” with the decision, but would continue to support the ‘No’ campaign on independence.
Whilst Scottish Secretary was the only Cabinet position to be altered, ministerial and aide positions were the primary target of Cameron’s reshuffle.

Among others, ex-GMTV presenter Esther McVey was promoted. McVey, who holds the only Tory seat in Merseyside, has been moved from her junior role as disabled minister to that of employment. Some critics have seen her promotion as an attempt to solidify support in marginal constituencies before the next general election. It is true, that most of the new faces in this reshuffle only won their seats within the last five years. However, from Downing Street stated that the reshuffle was conducted purely in the interests of expertise.

Nicky Morgan, Helen Grant and Jane Ellison, along with five more female MPs being brought into Whitehall positions from the backbenches, were also promoted in the shake-up. Whilst Iain Watson, a BBC political correspondent, suggested that this reshuffle “didn’t really amount to a revolution in millinery”, many have seen this as Cameron’s attempt to present his party as more representative of those it governs.

Whilst the Lib Dems have made no gains during the reshuffle, some in the party are dissatisfied with the results of the reshuffle. Jeremy Browne, a close ally within the Lib Dem ranks to Nick Clegg, was surprised to see that he was replaced at the Home Office by Norman Baker.

Ed Miliband also took Monday as a chance to freshen-up his Shadow Cabinet. Among minor changes, some main faces were replaced. Stephen Twigg was replaced by historian Tristram Hunt as shadow Education Secretary, whilst Rachel Reeves has been moved from the Treasury to shadow Work and Pensions, replacing Liam Byrne.

Some have cited Miliband’s changes as the lurch to the left Labour were expected to take. Both Twigg and Byrne are considered Blairites, perhaps showing that the Labour leadership is attempting to take the party away from its last rein of power. Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps, who tweeted after the announcement of the shadow cabinet reshuffle, suggested that the changes were “designed to satisfy Len McCluskey”.

These claims come after a summer of tension between the central Labour Party and trade unions, following the supposed and later proven false allegations that Unite were tampering with local Labour Party constituency nominations.
With announcements being made throughout Monday and into the week, most commentators have concluded that this year’s reshuffles were primarily a chance for both sides of the Commons to re-envisage what a potential post-2015 Cabinet could look like, whoever wins.

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