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How will the cards fall?

3 September, 2012
Playing cards being revealed on a table

It’s that time again – the Government shuffle.

They are back! No, not the Paralympic hopefuls but Government Ministers, eager to test their metal as we gaze into the crystal ball that is the parliamentary version of musical chairs. Yes that very British democratic institution – the Cabinet reshuffle.

As the party faithful on the back benches return to the hallowed hall that is Westminster, many will be hopeful but few will be chosen and those who are not thought up to the job will continue to languish in the wings to contemplate what may have been, along with the disposed who have been stripped of office.

The biggest mistake you can make as a commentator sitting on the sidelines is to predict the outcome. All the indications are that the sitting tenants of Osborne [Treasury], Hague [Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs] and Gove [Education] will remain as the party [Conservative that is] faithful.

What is less clear is where we go when we start to examine the track record of others. Not least we ponder the future for the Secretary of State for Health - Andrew Lansley. Will he be one of the forgotten, will he be moved or will he simply be retained because who else would want to pick up the pieces that is the Health Bill?

The problem for the Prime Minister when it comes to the health portfolio is who would he pass the baton to? None of the current junior Ministers for health have shown the ability or the aptitude to take up the challenge for the future and none appear to want to either.

With the resurrection of the campaign to return Hinchingbrooke Hospital back to NHS direct control and the antics of the collective cartel in the South West to break the back of AfC and union involvement, the autumn is shaping up to be a lively time.

This is quite apart from the TUC march on 20 October to back a ‘Future that works’, where it is hoped we will see the same level of support that we witnessed last year,  when over  a million took to the streets to oppose the Coalition’s austerity programme.

Whatever the outcome of the reshuffle, the Coalition has a mountain to climb if it wants to retain credibility having had one ‘u’ turn after another, gaffs and failed attempts at policy change in its wake.

Will this reshuffle mean danger for the opposition? Probably not - they are more than able to miss the opportunity to capitalise on coalition failure.

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