Nick Clegg has been reshuffling the Liberal Democrat ministerial team. Here are my first thoughts…
First, with Norman Baker replacing Jeremy Browne at the Home Office, it’s a good move for civil liberties as Norman is much stronger on those issues than Jeremy.
Given how much flak the outgoing Home Office minister has got over his claimed work rate in the job, the motivation for the change may not have been primarily about civil liberties, but it is a beneficial side-effect (and one that at least some of Nick Clegg’s advisers will value highly).
Second, this combined with the move of Alistair Carmichael to the Scottish Office shows Nick Clegg willing to take some difficult choices with the reshuffle rather than going for an easy ‘no change’ approach. The combined effect is a good one for the party’s public vote-winning face – something that should be an increasingly important consideration as a Parliament goes on. (Though as someone who has organised plenty of local council election campaigns, I also think it should be rather important on day one too!)
Third, with two female promotions announced (Susan Kramer in at transport and Judith Jolly becoming a government whip), the reshuffle is another case of one step forward for diversity amongst the Liberal Democrat government team. It’s become Nick Clegg’s signature approach – making progress, but not dramatic progress. (The odds still are that there won’t be a Lib Dem female Cabinet minister at any point in this Parliament.)