I’ve been steering clear of politics of late; the dog days of recess and the lack of fervour when equidistant from polls lend one to a torpor: plus, I’ll be looking for bit of promotion from all political stripes as the Oxjam Beeston Takeover gathers pace, and don’t want to come across as overtly partial; an accusation I’ve received from all hues.
Yet it can not be left unwrote that tomorrow could be quite a major event for us Beestonians/Broxtownians: the Government reshuffle. Our gracious Member could be seeing an elevation to some giddy heights.
Well, so say The Guardian, The Times and The Independent, and possibly the other papers that I don’t get round to read. Each are liberally speculating on CallMeDave’s plans, and Soubz comes in for glowing praise on each. This is triggered by several factors, namely she’s a centrist loyalist, both traits lending themselves well to an unsteady coalition; she’s proved to be confident in front of the cameras: as one will be after a career news-reading; and she’s untested, a new face with little luggage of previous posts. She’s also female, which, as the Tories haemorrhage female voters, is a real boon.
Yet the political commentators on the nationals lack a more nuanced view: no wonder, as they have to deal with 650 MPs and 775 Lords, not to mention an army of SPADS, spinners and croneys that create the body politic. It’s therefore unlikely they look at Soubz in the context of her tenuous majority, which would be swept away tomorrow if a vote was called. Not just swept away, but give Nick Palmer (for he has thrown his hat in the ring for 2015) a majority comparable to the one he attained in 1997. Theres little currency in elevating a one-term MP, so if we see Anna find a ministerial role tomorrow, we’ll know that the whips have annoited her for the long-game.
I don’t need to remind you of my theory on what this is. Despite protestations that her heart is in Broxtowe, it’s best to remember she took the nomination to PPS pragmatically after failing to win Gedling off Vernon Coaker in 2005. She will continue this anti-clockwise journey through Nottingham’s surrounding boroughs and fetch up in Rushcliffe, as I see little life left in Ken Clarke’s career.
Clarke has long wethered the intercienary blood-letting of the Post-Thatcher Conservative Party with a degree of mastery that now sees Portillo shilling for the license fee and Heseltine a fading, bitter Baron. He briefly found himself lauded as a double-bonus for the Tories: moderate enough to not taint with the Thatcher toxification, yet senior enough to lend an air of gravitas to Osborne’s office. Once out of office, however, the knifes were out. The 1992 Committee, the UKIP potential defectors, they all saw Ken as a wet, a Euro-traitor, a socialist in blue clothing. His blunders, which if made by any other cabinet member would have been hosed down by spin-doctors before the media could ignite, were left undefended. As the Tories dropped the pre-election hug-a-hoodiness act, Ken’s politics became as deeply unfashionable in Party ranks as his ubiquitous buff Hush Puppies.
So it will be no surprise that the incumbent moves to the erstwhile this week; and he’ll no doubt be given a promise of a peerage or some form of ceremonial role. His political career is over, at least in the main house. Ken is 72. He will never serve on a cabinet again, and a move to the Lords will be a welcome step compared to the ignominy of back-bench life.
I scarcely need to fill in the rest. A vacancy in Rushcliffe appears, and a Cameroonian favourite with no chance of re-election needs a safe seat. Soubz is a self-confessed admirer of Clarke, so fuses the moderating influence of her mentor with a malleability whips love in new intake.
I’d still be cautious on what happens though. Soubry’s central plank for re-election should she remain in this borough is her ill-thought out Greenbelt campaign, which – see Beestonia passim – could see people like Neil Davidson of Persimmon and other shoddy builders have carte blanche to concrete over fields. Her hope of finding a cause to build her 2015 Broxtowe campaign around would be seriously scuppered if she was seen to simultaneously fight against development while green-lighting Cameron’s latest wheeze for growth; the relaxation of the planning laws, before described by various conservation groups as a terrifying destructive proposal.
Cabinet? I doubt it. Minister? Maybe, but junior. I’ll let you know via twitter…follow @beeestonia for updates.