Junior ministerial movements will never get the same attention as those around the cabinet table. But May’s choices show an attempt to quietly rejuvenate her governmentby Asa Bennett / January 10, 2018 / Leave a comment
The ongoing Brexit process meant that the Prime Minister had good reason not to move any senior minister whose work related to it, so she had to look elsewhere to find space for fresh faces.
Conservative headquarters was an obvious place for her to start. Party membership is on the wane, and last year’s snap election showed how clunky its campaign structures are. The 60-year-old Sir Patrick McLoughlin, venerable as he may be, was not the man who would turn it into an electoral machine ready to fight Labour on the ground, airwaves and social media at the same time. Given how well Momentum has managed to popularise Jeremy Corbyn’s message online, the Tories needed a rejuvenation.
That will now be managed by the 46-year-old Brandon Lewis. Since being elected to Parliament in 2010, he has proven himself a steady hand in a variety of ministerial briefs. The man he succeeds as chairman, by contrast, has been in Parliament since 1986. He’ll be assisted by another man in his late forties as his deputy, James Cleverly—someone who is well-known as a prolific and feisty Tweeter.
In an age where mavericks like Donald Trump can ride to the White House on the strength of their Twitter panache, CCHQ will have much to learn from Mr Cleverly’s confident way of setting out Conservative arguments and taking the fight to Labour online.
Both men will be helped to revitalise the Tory machine by a raft of MPs who’ve been given particular responsibilities as vice-chairmen. Kemi Badenoch, who joined Parliament last June, is now responsible selecting Conservative candidates for the next general election.
Ben Bradley, who has been in the Commons for just as long, has to improve the party’s to appeal to young people. He would have a good handle on what interests the youth given that he is only 28 years old.
To make clear how much she valued these new brooms at Tory HQ, and perhaps to allay concerns that they would be hidden away in the back room, Mrs May posed with her new team outside Downing Street. That scene was how the Prime Minister wanted her reshuffle to be seen: as a bid to surround herself with lots of talented bright young things.
The only new…