Thursday, January 08, 2009

Clegg hones Lib Dem Election Team

Nick Clegg reshuffled his front bench team today in what will probably be the last change of roles before the General Election.

I personally was delighted to see Steve Webb go back to Work and Pensions. He's done well at Environment and Climate Change, but he is Mr Pensions and knows everything there is to know in that complex minefield. I actually don't understand why he was ever moved in the first place and I am sure we will benefit from his expertise in this important area.

Top Lib Dem MP Blogger Lynne Featherstone is to head up the as yet unformed New Technology Board to make sure the Party is maximising its use of available technology. Lynne's personability combined with Innovation Director Mark Pack's technological brilliance is probably a partnership made in heaven. Richmond MP and transport specialist Susan Kramer leaves the shadow cabinet to head up the campaign against the Heathrow expansion. Jenny Willott gets what can hardly be called a promotion from Work and Pensions, where she has been effective, to Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, whatever that does. I hope it's a mechanism to allow her more influence in the General Election campaign. I have had a lot of time for Ms Willott since she stood against Paul Holmes for the Chesterfield selection 10 years ago. I was obviously on Paul's team, but we were so impressed with Jenny that we did phone canvassing for her when she first stood for selection in Cardiff Central.

My major observation about all of this is that key and able women seem to have been given jobs outside the key Shadow Cabinet positions while, on the other hand, we have Simon Hughes, (who it's impossible not to love, so I'm not slagging him) brought back into the Shadow Cabinet after 4 years as President. I'm wondering what exactly Nick is saying here. It could be that Lynne's Jenny's and Susan's roles do become high profile, but generally being a spokesperson for a Parliamentary brief is the way to get the media to notice you. Time will tell.

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rob's uncle said...

You're being much too kind:

Webb shouldn't've been moved away from Pensions but he was doing a good job on Climate Change so I would have left him to it.

Nor should Kramer have been moved from Transport [her special subject]; however she may think she needs more time to defend her seat against Goldsmith's millions.

Featherstone should be on the Front bench.

Hughes has had a good innings and should be retired.

Willott's role will include 'The Family' which Kramer was doing, an important role.

Unknown said...

I don't think we are a million miles apart in our thinking, except I think Steve Webb and Pensions are a match made in Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Steve Webb is seen within the pensions industry as being one of the few real experts in this area, and I suspect that over the next few months the topics covered in the work & pensions remit will become even more high profile. That should then give us the distinct advantage of having two of the best (indeed, possibly the two best) spokesmen on this and the economy in the run up to the election.

Personally, I've never been really impressed with Susan Kramer but I'd agree with Rob's Uncle on why she's been moved.


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