Though some Tories hoped it would be time for fresh blood, Johnson has got the old band back togetherby Marie Le Conte / July 26, 2019 / Leave a comment
Boris Johnson’s reshuffle was many things—it was brutal, dubbed “The Night of the Blond Knives”, a clear statement of intent, and a raspberry blown at those in the Conservative party who thought that he really was going to unite the party as Prime Minister.
What it wasn’t, however, was a great promotion of new talent. Westminster has many phrases for them: the new blood, the fresh meat, and other less carnal analogies. They are the MPs who were elected recently but not too recently; they haven’t made the headlines too often but those who know where to look have been keeping an eye on them for a little while. You’ve probably heard of some of them, from your Tom Tugendhats and Nusrat Ghanis to your Bim Afolamis.
The received wisdom is that the bright (not-so) young things cannot be left to bloom then wane on the backbenches. Even if they do not prove to be a thorn in their leader’s side, their untapped potential does nothing to help the party in the long run. On the flipside too, keeping the same old hands on the frontbench for too long often means losing the interest of the public.
We’ve been here before. Theresa May conducted her own clearing of the decks when she took power in 2016. To prove that times really were changing, she needed to look to the newer intakes and bring them up with her.
She didn’t. Instead, she brought the likes of Liam Fox, David Davis, Damian Green and David Lidington into the fold, all of whom had first seen the frontbench in the olden days of the pre-2010 opposition.
It was not well received, and the backbench grumbling grew and grew throughout her premiership—on that as well as everything else—and the consensus opinion eventually became that she needed to go so a new generation could take over.
The demand wasn’t unfair; if there is talent on your benches, you could do worse than use it. Some fresher faces even did try to have a go; Sam Gyimah is a notable example. Still, this clamour for fresh faces quieted down a bit once MPs started looking for her successor; times are tough, Corbyn is…