The Current UK Cabinet: Part 2/3

You might also like to look at Part One.

The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP: Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Clark actually wasn’t a bad choice for this job: he’s been a member of the ministry looking after cities for a while now, and he’s certainly a great deal milder and less objectionable than his predecessor Eric Pickles. The Tories as a whole have some pretty terrible policies about housing and local communities (mostly thanks to their peculiar conviction that the way to deal with poor people not having enough places to live is to sell all their houses to the ‘aspirational’ middle classes, or something), but Clark himself…he’s a Tory and he clearly votes in a Tory way, but I have no particular reason to hate him yet. I suppose I shall just have to wait and see which bits of the family silver he decides to sell off, as part of his bag is ‘localised decentralisation’.

The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP: Secretary of State for Education, Minister for Women and Equalities
The best thing I can say about Nicky Morgan is that she isn’t Esther McVey, who was touted for the position but thankfully lost her seat before she could get it. Morgan’s oft-cited homophobia is a serious problem: she is effectively now Minister for Straight Women, and I’m not sure how much use there is for one of those. Just as worrying is her determination to tighten restrictions on access to abortion – precisely the sort of thing we have a Minister for Women to prevent. Thank heavens for small mercies, though: this is the first time since Cameron has been PM that he’s bothered to have a dedicated Minister for Women at all, having previously just lumped it in with something else. Once he gave it to the Home Secretary. I mean, this girly stuff can’t possibly need much time or attention, right?

The Rt Hon Justine Greening: Secretary of State for International Development
International Development deals not only with foreign aid but also with a variety of other international concerns, and is one of those weird Ministries that nobody entirely understands. Amongst the people who don’t appear to entirely understand it is Justine Greening, who once “reportedly told the prime minister she had not come into government to distribute money to poor people”. She’s a former accountant, and seems to quite enjoy being compared to Thatcher – neither of which are traits likely to endear me to her. The real problem, though, is that she is effectively a colonialist: she’s heavily invested in the privitisation of aid in all manner of scary ways, and her whole approach smacks of white saviorism.

Amber Rudd MP: Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Given our anti-abortion Women’s Minister and our pro-capital-punishment Justice Minister, I was half expecting this one to turn out to be a climate change denialist or something. Thankfully, though, we’re not quite in America just yet. Rudd’s not bad, actually, as Tories go – she’s said some pretty dreadful things about benefits claimants, but she at least has some sensible opinions on sex education in schools. Honestly, I think she’d be a good choice for Women’s Minister herself in an all-Conservative cabinet – but she does at least appear to be highly qualified for the job she’s got, which is more than I can say about several of the ministers here. Both The Guardian and the Solar Trade Association seem to think so, anyway, and I’m prepared to take their word for it.

The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP: Secretary of State for Transport
McLoughlin is now the boss of the Ministry he worked in for Thatcher’s government, which makes him one of the clearest indicators of Cameron’s belowdecks Thatcherism. He’s not a new appointment – he’s been in this job since 2012 – and he took over from Greening (who you may remember from such shitshows as “our current Minister for International Development). It’s been widely speculated that he was given the role because Greening is vehemently opposed to the new runway at Heathrow, which McLoughlin is not. Honestly, though, transport is not one of the things I’m particularly worried about the Tories buggering up: that blow was dealt back in 1993 (the year after McLoughlin left the Ministry, though I don’t suppose that means anything) by the previous Conservative majority government, with the privatisation of the railways. The H2S thing is a bit of a clusterfuck, but in general the Tories are being relatively unobjectionable about transport infrastructure.

The Rt Hon David Mundell: Secretary of State for Scotland
Oh, here we go. Mundell bravely battled his way to the top of a shortlist of one to be made Scottish Minister, but you’d be mistaken to think that’s as a result of the SNP: he’s actually been the only Tory MP in Scotland since 2005. So far as I can tell, he’s hung on to his job mostly by not being a very good Tory: he’s emphatically not a Thatcherite, having defected from the Conservative party to join the SDP for most of the eighties and nineties as a direct result of his opposition to her, and he served as MSP in Edinburgh for a bloody long time before shunting over to Westminster instead. He criticises the Tories frequently, and his occasional flashes of soft leftiness have earned him the nickname ‘Fluffy’ amongst his colleagues. The biggest problem I have with him is his apparent conviction that Scotland should join England in scrapping the Bill of Human Rights – which, what the fuck, frankly. Mundell is as Scottish as they come, though, which is apparently saying something given several other appointments on this list.

The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
I should make a confession about these next two: I know bugger all about Ireland or Wales. I’ve lived in Scotland and I visit friends and family there frequently, but the rest of the Union has far fewer links for me. Northern Ireland is, of course, a special case – there’s still a feeling of touchpaper about it, and I imagine that many of the politicians who work there have very difficult jobs to do that the rest of Parliament cannot truly understand. My main problem with Villiers, then, is that she isn’t even remotely Irish: she’s never lived in Irelend, she’s never worked in government for Ireland before, and she is in fact a solidly blue-blooded member of the English aristocracy whose constituency is in one of the most suburban-London-fringe places imaginable. I do not have the slightest clue what qualifies her for this job. Alright, so there isn’t a single Tory MP anywhere in Ireland, as it happens – but even George Osborne has better Irish roots than Villiers, for god’s sake.

The Rt Hon Stephen Crabb: Secretary of State for Wales
Crabb is a Welsh MP who grew up in Wales, which is a start, but it’s not really backed up by the fact that he apparently “doesn’t appear to believe in devolution at all and thinks his new job is empty and meaningless”. There are plenty of ways that working-class Wales can identify with him, but it seems he’s all mouth and no trousers when it comes to actually changing the things he clearly got into politics to fight. There’s a bit on his campaign website that says “Click here to tell Stephen your voting for him” and that made me wince, but maybe all the best proofreaders are on the left or something.

John Whittingdale: Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
The big news about his guy is that he’s a homophobe, which obviously doesn’t matter because there are no GBLT people in media and the arts, right? I can’t put it better than Ashley Cowburn did in the The Independent yesterday: “But what’s much harder to deal with is when brutal homophobia isn’t just at the bottom of society, but also at the top. Having a straight male in control of the UK’s Culture Department, who once expressed that same-sex marriage would bring “distress for many”, is hardly filling me with confidence that the Tories are willing to undertake the hefty task of tackling homophobia in all other areas.” As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also got it in for the BBC – another great British institution near and dear to my heart – and, in a fantastic display of Thatcherite insensitivity, has been widely quoted as saying that the licence fee is “worse than the poll tax”. With this “free market” capitalist at the helm, it’s not looking good for Aunty Beeb.

The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss: Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Truss is an advocate of the repeal of the fox hunting ban, because of course she is: so is David Cameron, so he was hardly going to give Rural Affairs to someone who didn’t agree with him. I’m sure none of you will be surprised to learn that she’d also like to murderise the badgers, promising that “we will not let up, whatever complaints we get from protesters groups. We are in it for the long haul and we will not walk away”. At least she’s not a climate change denialist, I suppose – the bloke she took the role over from was.

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