The Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet reshuffle, a secret to which
only a planeload of the general public and the readership of the Sunday
Mirror were previously privy (RB, Liberator 330) was sufficiently limited to
make people wonder what the fuss was about.
Its main motivation appears to have been to find Simon Hughes something to do on
ceasing to be party president, and the main side effect of the musical chairs
involved has been to shunt Jenny Willott off to the non-job of Chancellor of the
Duchy of Lancaster.
If Nick Clegg has any specific role in mind for her there, this was not revealed
among the reshuffle announcements. Buried in these though was the news that John
Sharkey, Clegg’s old mate from the Hansard Society, would be deputy chair of the
general election campaign.
Sharkey comes from the advertising industry, and his undisputed skills there
should surely be deployed in finding ways in which to communicate the party’s
political messages, not in deciding on the messages themselves.
There is some unease in senior ranks of the party among those who think that
Sharkey is responsible for dissuading Clegg from saying much that is either
interesting or memorable for fear of offending some section or other of the
electorate, with the result that the party also fails to inspire any of them.
The reshuffle announcements also included the formation of something called the
‘economic recovery group’. This comprises 15 parliamentarians, all in roles that
they were carrying out anyway, and its purpose remains obscure.
Whatever the aim is, the group has hardly drawn on fresh thinking. It omits
(with three exceptions) the talent available in the Lords, and ignores entirely
both Lib Dems in local government, who are already delivering practical action
to support their local economies, and party members who have relevant
professional expertise. Maybe it was just done to grab a headline.
Also in Radical Bulletin 331:
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- EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY
- TRUMP CARDS
- SLIGHTLY FOXED
- ANYTHING ON THE TELLY?
- DON’T SAY THAT WORD
- RIGHT HAND MAN
- A GENERAL ELECTION WITHIN 15 MONTHS?
- HISTORY REWRITTEN
- TOP TWADDLE