The Corner

More Thoughts on Cameron’s Reshuffle

I very rarely post anything here on British politics any more because it’s all just too depressing, but I thought I should add a couple of things to John and Andrew’s incisive comments.

The sacking of Owen Paterson is extraordinary. Here was a man who lived and breathed his portfolio, being a man of the countryside. He was well-regarded as one of the hardest workers in Westminster and someone who represented an important slice of the party’s support in the Cabinet. Moreover, he was one of only three members of the government who seriously thought – on either side of the issue — about the implications of the global-warming debate, the other two being Michael Fallon and the green-tinged Greg Barker. As Matt Sinclair, former chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, has pointed out, two have been sacked and one moved to a position where he will have nothing to say on the issue (unless, Lord help us, he declares climate change a national-security threat to Britain). While I have nothing but the highest praise for Owen’s replacement, Liz Truss, I cannot imagine she will be able to have the same effect as Owen in the months leading up to the general election.

There are those who will say that Owen paid the price for the devastating floods that hit Britain this winter. Yet it is clear that the floods were the responsibility of the Environment Agency, which stopped dredging rivers some time ago against the advice of countrymen. The Agency should have been abolished and Paterson given the job of creating a replacement agency more in tune with the needs of rural areas. His sacking got everything backwards.

As for the demotion of my old friend Michael Gove, the only reason can be that he was too successful at taking on the education establishment, and they demanded his head. While a brilliant man, I believe his talents will not be best utilized in the Whips’ Office. Paul Goodman agrees.

I think the effect of these two stunning decisions is best summarized by Thatcher biographer Charles Moore:

[Cameron] has singled out for punishment those ministers who were brave and active — most notably Michael Gove and Owen Paterson, demoting the first and sacking the second. Thus he emboldens all those pressure groups who hate the Tories and sends out a message that no one who wants a ministerial career should have a serious interest in his or her subject He has also target-bombed his party’s natural supporters — rural voters, Eurosceptics, non-greens and people who are out of sympathy with his metropolitan preoccupations.

It’s an astonishing attack on his base seemingly in order to win over metropolitan voters. They’ll be singing, dancing, and enjoying a pint and a smoke in UKIP headquarters tonight.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More