Tebbit confirms consensus of Cameron’s reshuffle: a damp squib that shows up Cameron’s weakness

Norman Tebbit is well worth the occasional read for anybody seeking a quick clarification of the Tory mindset, assumptions and prejudices, which really should be anybody who counts themselves an enemy of the Conservative Party. His latest blog for the Telegraph is wonderful.

Writing under a deliciously arrogant headline — ‘Cameron can’t rid himself of the disloyal Clegg. So what good will a reshuffle do?’ — Tebbit makes clear from the outset what he expected of from his coalition partners: total submission and a level of loyalty to the Conservative’s dear leader that would open a Tory backbencher up to charges of sycophancy. But then perhaps Clegg should take heed of Norman Tebbit’s advice, not because it’s what a Lib Dem leader should do, but because when he does try to stand up for himself he looks very silly: ‘so I may be redundant?’

We all knew that, with the exception of Kenneth Clarke at justice, the incumbents of the premier league jobs — treasury, home and foreign offices — were safe so this was always going to be a nothing reshuffle, because few can name anybody below them anyway and so the public won’t notice. Gove at education was too good to move, reckoned Tebbit, who thought the same of Ian Duncan-Smith. As it turns out Cameron did want to move IDS, but IDS wanted to stay. A tricky moment for Cameron who just two days ago promised to stop dithering and be more decisive. Naturally, the new decisive Cameron gave in to IDS.

Tebbit’s advice to Cameron turns out to have been as on the money as his advice to Clegg: it was ‘unwise to pledge himself to cut the dithering whilst carrying out a Ministerial shuffle with so little prospect of it looking masterful or even purposeful.’

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