Parliamentary sketch – Keeping Jokers in reshuffled pack

No. I wasn’t waiting by my phone during the Ministerial reshuffle rituals last week.

It would have been an odd message to send; rewarding an MP who is (apparently) one of the most rebellious in one of the most rebellious Parliaments.

There’s no kindly way of wrenching Ministerial office, enhanced salary, red boxes, chauffeur driven cars and comforts from any normal human being. The evident delirium and pride emanating from some newly preferred MPs was matched in at least equal measure by the evident pain and trauma of those demoted to make way for them. There’s no due process or grievance procedure. It’s all very sudden and unavoidably brutal.

In the end, it looked interestingly inconsequential. Faces changed. Policies don’t. So what’s the point?

Well, it’s the modern equivalent of what all Emperors used to get up to if they wanted enduring sovereignty. A few timely executions of one’s old guard helps to keep the ambitious middle ranks keen, the troops hopeful that the next preferment will be theirs and the quotient of respect and loyalty high. Other than that there isn’t a point.

There are a few interesting sub plots. The demotion of old hand Ken Clarke from his role as Justice Secretary and the promotion of some of those from the ‘right’ of the Conservative Party seem to have got the speculation-mongers salivating.

I don’t know if Ken Clarke is on the right or left of his Party. But I do respect him as having a combination of characteristics rarely found amongst his colleagues, and which I find particularly endearing: i.e. being an independent minded free thinker, and rational rather than dogmatic.

Until I had met him and engaged in Parliament, I have to admit that I had placed him alongside all of the other horned and cloven hoofed characters in the “beyond redemption” enemy camp!

Whether the re-shuffle of Ministerial deck chairs will in fact prove to be more significant than I had expected we will learn in the coming months…

10th September 2012

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