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Radical Bulletin 331 – February 2009
14 February 2009 (15:09:36)

DECKCHAIRS, TITANIC

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:

  • 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

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