Friday, 14 October 2011

Not a game changer

Valencia: Reuters rang me up yesterday evening to ask for comment on Liam Fox's resignation. My view was and is that it is not a game changer for the Coalition Government.

It is clearly an embarrassing episode, but Dave has handled it as well as he could in the circumstances. It is not indicative of the kind of sleaze which haunted the last years of the Major Government. Indeed, these days to get away with two Cabinet resignations in eighteen months is not bad going given the rapacity of the media pack.

Of course, one potential future problem is that Dr Fox could act as a focus on the backbenches for discontented right-wingers.

The Government would also have preferred stability in the defence ministry given that it has been critical of the turnover of ministers there under Labour. This made it more difficult to get a grip on the cost effectiveness of defence spending.

Phillip Hammond has been an effective transport minister, facing down opposition to the high speed train proposal. He is also on the right of the party so the balance of the Cabinet has not been changed. His replacement, Justine Greening, is also a rising talent.

So there has been some reputational damage, but it is relatively limited, certainly in terms of any lasting effect.

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