Monday, 3 September 2012
A new Secretary of State?
Will she go? The whispers are, yes she will. That’s Cheryl Gillan, Secretary of State for Wales. The reason is that Prime Minister Cameron wants to reshuffle the pack. His low poll ratings are pushing him towards major changes to re-energise his flagging government.
It is thought that he’s unlikely to change any of the occupants of the three key jobs of Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor.
So in order to get fresh talent into the cabinet dear Cheryl, amongst others, will get her marching orders. But the question is who’ll be the next occupant of Gwydyr House?
There’s pressure from the Welsh conservative party for her successor to represent a Welsh seat. In the unlikely event that Cameron listen’s to such pressure the choice would fall between David Jones MP the current Welsh office minister and Stephen Crabb MP for Preseli Pembroke who is a government Whip.
Jones is not universally popular and Crabb is thought to have the edge between the two in the esteem of the Prime Minister. But the chances of either getting the job are low.
Much more likely is that PM will use the post to promote talent from the middle ranks of the ministerial pool. So it will be thumbs down to the Welsh Tories and their wish for the first Tory Secretary of State from a Welsh seat since Nicholas Edwards.
So who will it be? Well, the hot money is on Maria Miller MP for Basingstoke. She’s currently the Minister for Disabled People. And was brought up in Wales.
She went to Brynteg Comprehensive, Bridgend. The same school as Carwyn Jones the First Minister was a pupil. Perhaps, a basis for a good working relationship.
There is precedence for the Minister for the Disabled People being promoted to the cabinet as Secretary of state for Wales. A certain William Hague got his promotion to cabinet from the very same post.
Of course, the Prime Minister could combine the posts of Secretary of State for Wales with that of Northern Ireland and give the post to Owen Paterson the current Northern Ireland incumbent.
He represents a seat on the Welsh border and served on the Welsh Affairs committee between 1997 and 2001.
Devolution has stripped the post of Secretary of State(s) of most of its functions and many question the need for such posts. But Mr Cameron is not thought likely to change the current system until the referendum on Scottish independence has taken place. He daren’t be seen to be downgrading Scotland at such a sensitive time for the Union.
So as MPs prepared to return to parliament for a fortnight of work before the party conference season many will be waiting for that phone call to start their journey up the greasy pole of a ministerial career.
And the rest will regret that Cameron missed the opportunity to change his neighbour. For if he’s serious about making a fresh start in tackling the economy, a new occupant for 11 Downing Street is urgently required.