March 19, 2017

Government in a mess

Political commentators on the right have taken to criticising cabinet ministers. They call on Theresa May to replace them, implicitly exempting her from their criticism.

For Peter Oborne "Mrs May is showing firm, principled leadership as Britain heads towards Brexit" but "Home Secretary Amber Rudd hasn’t made an impact". Er ... this is exactly what Theresa May did as Home Secretary for years, not make an impact. It worked for her, and it's probably what she wants of Amber Rudd.

For, as Adam Boulton says, some Tories see her as resembling Gordon Brown: "paranoid, bullying, over-reliant on unaccountable advisers but ultimately indecisive and cautious".

Hammond is clearly damaged goods. May doesn't favour a smaller state; indeed she is a fan of extra wheezes, which cost money, yet can't nerve herself to slay big white elephants like Hinckley Point, HS2, or overseas aid. So Hammond will have to find ways to raise taxes which Her Majesty's opposition on the Evening Standard or the Tory backbenches will permit.

Tim Shipman reports that
Downing Street has told senior ministers that any reshuffle later this year is likely to target only middle-ranking and junior ministers, leaving Hammond safe for now.
A stunning misjudgement with Liz Truss in the cabinet. But if Hammond were to be replaced? Allister Heath puts forward Sajid Javid (who fumbled both Tata Steel and business rates) and Michael Fallon (who fiddled over IHAT and has been rightly described as chief press officer for his department). If that's the best they can do, the Tories really are in trouble. And so is the country.

At least Peter Oborne can point to talented backbenchers.

Michael Gove should be DPM with responsibility for domestic policy, giving Mrs May more time for Brexit and Scotland and the money. The problem? Their talents exceed those of gray May, and she knows it.

Boulton and Oborne suggest May should go to the country. If she does, her policy on a second Scottish referendum should be that Scots should first see the outcome of Brexit. Then, if they are unhappy, they could have a second and final referendum if there is majority support there for it. English politicians in their bubble should stop emoting about this "precious, precious union". The Scots should decide.

May has no need to position herself so that a decision by Scotland to leave would be seen as a defeat for her.

It is the policy of the SNP to make Scotland poorer. If that is what Scots want, that is their choice, and we can take back control the £9 billion a year we bung them, to use in the English NHS instead. £170m a week on the side of a battlebus would make a powerful photo opportunity.

If Arron Banks doesn't want to do it, crowd-funding would probably be easy.

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