As Simom McGrath commented on Twitter:
How to judge the changes being made today on the Liberal Democrat side? Here’s the criteria I’ll be using:
- Most importantly, have people been put in jobs they’ve got a decent chance of doing well? It’s hard enough being a minister in the smaller party in a coalition government without having lots of people thrown into policy areas they are completely new to.
- Does being a minster who disappears into their department and doesn’t do much in the way of communicating or campaigning to promote the Liberal Democrats matter? Some ministers have been far better than others at this; will this be reflected in the changes? (Or to put it another way, ‘do they garner more or less press coverage than I do?’ If a minister doesn’t, they’re not pulling their weight in government.)
- David Laws is going to come back. Even though he’s a contributor to the Orange Book and I was a contributor to Reinventing the State, I think those sorts of distinctions are pretty small set against what we have in common compared to the other parties. Bringing him back is the right move as he’s one of our most talented MPs. It would be daft however to ignore how some party members will feel about Laws’s return. So how well balanced overall are the changes made?
- Nick Clegg’s often talked about the need to improve the party’s diversity. His previous government appointments, mini-reshuffles and House of Lords appointments have show promising moves in that direction. Yet we are also on course to go through a whole Parliament with a 100% white and male Lib Dem Cabinet line-up. How much do the changes today match the previous rhetoric, even allowing for shortage of diversity amongst those he can choose from?
UPDATE: Now the reshuffle is almost all done and dusted I’ve returned to these four points and rated the reshuffle against them.