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10 January 2018

Cabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's impotence

Roger Bannister, Socialist Party national committee

There was more excitement in the media in advance of Theresa May's cabinet reshuffle than among working class people. And in the event, the reaction of workers turned out to be more realistic.

Rather than producing a new team with a new mission more reflective of the country at large, as Tory apologists were predicting, the message of this reshuffle is "more of the same, only worse!"

Most key players in the existing cabinet remain in place. In particular Boris Johnson, who with his record of diplomatic gaffes is arguably the least suitable foreign secretary ever, remains in post.

Similarly, Philip Hammond, whose first budget ended in a humiliating u-turn for the Tories over National Insurance rates, keeps his hands on the national finances.

Other ministers to stay in are Brexit secretary David Davies, home secretary Amber Rudd and Greg Clark, business secretary.

Two senior ministers remain in post but with additional responsibilities. Sajid Javid has had housing added to his communities and local government brief. And Jeremy Hunt is to add social care to his health secretary position.

It could be assumed from these moves that, having inflicted massive cuts to local government and the health service respectively, these two are being rewarded with new areas to attack. But the situation is more complicated than that.

May wanted to move Hunt to the business secretary position, but he refused to go - correctly gambling that May is too weak to sack him outright!

Disastrous election

This reshuffle is more to do with attempting to boost the Tory party's image after May's disastrous general election last year. But, as indicated by Hunt's brinksmanship, there are clear signs that behind the scenes May has had problems enforcing her will on recalcitrant ministers.

Early in the day the Tory party tweeted congratulations to Chris Grayling for being made chairman of the party. It was later announced that Brandon Lewis had been given the job instead!

And education secretary Justine Greening resigned rather than be moved to the Department for Work and Pensions, replaced by Damian Hinds.

May's task is actually an impossible one.

She has installed a fellow Remainer, David Lidington, as de facto deputy prime minister after her last Remainer deputy Damian Green left under a cloud. But she is still struggling to assert authority over a party with irreconcilable splits over Brexit.

No amount of reshuffling can resolve that. Nor can it restore the dwindling fortunes of the Tories, clinging onto power only with the support of the reactionary Democratic Unionist Party.

Her government is fundamentally weak. The continuation of the policies of austerity is causing misery for millions of working class people.

Meanwhile Corbyn-led Labour, despite the sabotage of Blairite MPs and councillors, offers an alternative, with some hope for improvement of the lives of suffering workers.

The trade unions should organise the killer blow for this decrepit Tory government. Mass, union-led demonstrations, coupled with coordinated strike action, could see the Tories off, rather than allowing them to stagger on in power.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26667