Huffpost UK Politics

ResHUFFle: Traffic Jam At The Top - The Cabinet Big Hitters

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SEE ALSO:

- Blogpost - why Cameron needs to refresh his team as the coalition continues to flounder

- ResHUFFLe blog - the latest rumours and speculation

- Some scenarios for David Cameron as he plots his Cabinet team

- The women on the rise, and a few on the way out

george osborne

George Osborne

Based on merit it's hard to see why Osborne should remain in Number 11, the GDP figures released in July only compounding the sense that Osborne's Plan A isn't working - even the IMF has warned it might have to be ripped up. We'll never really know if the economy might have performed better if George hadn't cut so far and so fast, but at least so far unemployment has been falling. In reality a lot of economists don't understand the GDP figures and think they might be revised upward. This alone might be enough to allow Osborne to keep his job but the main reason is how close he is to Cameron. Unlike the psychdrama of the Blair/Brown years, Cameron and Osborne come as a pair. They'll sink or swim together.

High point: IMF boss Christine Lagarde's "shuddering" at the thought of Labour being in power
Low Point: Almost the whole of 2012
Chances of being moved: Low

michael gove

Michael Gove

It feels like distant political history now but cast your mind back two years and Michael Gove was in trouble. His department made a mess in reversing the previous government's Building Schools for the Future programme, unclear exactly how many projects were going to be cancelled. Since then Gove's fortunes have improved, his radical schools legislation slipped through Parliament without a whisper, and the conversion of comprehensives to Academies is firmly on track. Gove is thought to covet the Foreign Office, something which troubles doveish MPs as they worry he's a closet neo-con. Thought as a possible future Tory leader, there is the small problem of lots of people finding him smarmy and too clever for his own good.

High Point: Takeup of Academies and the English Baccalaureate firmly on-track
Low Point: His plans to scrap GCSEs was leaked, confusion reigned about whether Cameron knew about them
Chances of being moved: Pretty high

jeremy hunt

Jeremy Hunt

Until the revelations of the BskyB bid there'd been a teflon quality to the culture secretary, who'd been considered a dead cert for promotion to higher office. Since then Jeremy Hunt's been considered "walking wounded" because everyone think he messed up massively over his special adviser Adam Smith and the BSkyB takeover process in general. The only person to not think this is David Cameron, who flew in the face of logic and reason by suggesting Hunt hadn't broken the ministerial code. The prevailing view was the PM didn't want to switch culture secretaries just before the Olympics. But if Hunt can't handle the small matter of a media takeover, is he really fit for higher office?

High point: Accidentally being called a c**t by Jim Naughtie on Radio 4
Low point: The resignation of his special adviser, Adam Smith
Chances of being moved: High

theresa may

Theresa May

Surviving two years as Home Secretary is no mean feat, neither is managing to all but secure the removal of Abu Qatada from the UK, something Labour spent almost a decade trying to do. Most of Theresa May's gaffes have been low-level and silly, tending to involve cats and the Human Rights Act. Even her detractors admit she's performed better than expected as Home Secretary, and where she has made mistakes she's been pretty effective at ensuring the blame has been dispersed. But even after two years the UK Border Agency remains a shambles, and she can't blame all of that on the immigration minister Damian Green.

High point: All but ensuring that Abu Qatada would be deported from Britain
Low point: Not knowing how much booze she drinks a week, despite urging everyone else to count their units
Chances of being moved: Moderate

philip hammond

Philip Hammond

There is a joke at Westminster that if you want to divert all attention away from a government department, give it to Philip Hammond. On the face of it so dull and stony faced, the Defence Secretary has restored order to the MOD after the turmoil of budget cuts and the spectre of Adam Werritty stalking the corridors. Although there are whispers that he covets the Treasury, Hammond looks set to remain in place as the plans to withdraw from Afghanistan take place - and the troops couldn't ask for a safer pair of hands.

High point: Plugging a £35bn black hole in the MOD budget
Low point: Claiming trains were a "rich man's toy" while transport secretary
Chances of being moved: Low

william hague

William Hague

In addition to being foreign secretary Hague also acts as "first secretary of state", which means he often does PMQs in Cameron's absence. Enormously popular within the Tory party, Hague has a complex in-tray with rising tensions and uncertainties surrounding Syrian and Iran. Michael Gove is thought to want Hague's job at the Foreign Office, but assuming number 11 is off-limits, where do you move Hague?

High point: Barring a few slips, the Libyan campaign
Low point: The resignation of his special adviser Chris Meyers, with whom Hague infamously shared a hotel room
Chances of being moved: Fairly low

andrew lansley

Andrew Lansley

Possibly the most unpopular health secretary ever, Lansley has managed to bring precisely nobody with him as he tries to overhaul the NHS. He comprehensively failed to explain why the reforms were not "top-down reorganisation" and responded to concerns by distinguished professional health bodies by shutting them out. The legislative programme to transform the clinical commissioning process was messy and over-long. Despite all this, there is a view that Cameron wants Lansley to stick around to implement the changes, with a beefed up junior ministerial team brought in to help him. Rising star Mark Harper is tipped to replace Simon Burns as a junior minister.

High point: Getting the NHS reforms through Parliament
Low point: The shambolic and divisive way Lansley achieved this
Chances of being moved: Moderate

iain duncan smith

Iain Duncan Smith

IDS famously told Cameron that the Department for Work and Pensions was the only job he wanted in government, and there's nothing to suggest he's changed his mind on that. Much of the heavy-lifting on welfare reform has been done, but there's still a huge amount of work to do in terms of implementation. The government has so many programmes and initiatives to deal with unemployment, but there's no outward sign of a grand unifying strategy. Tens of thousands of people are coming of incapacity benefit and Disability Living Allowance and onto Jobseekers Allowance, and the Universal Credit is due to come online next year. Moving IDS out of a department with so much work to do would be insane.

High point: Confounding the House of Lords and ramming his welfare reforms though Parliament
Low point: Possibly still to come - the Work Programme is thought to be flagging
Chances of being moved: Negligible

ken clarke
In terms of time served the most senior member of the Cabinet, Ken Clarke's had a mammoth task of handing budget cuts of the Ministry of Justice, which are among the sharpest in the austerity programme. There have been mutterings that Clarke is getting too old, tires easily and tries to avoid going home with too much paperwork. People who should know say this is nonsense but there's no doubting that Clarke is getting on a bit. Cameron might want to put him out to pasture, not least because it's thought major standoffs with the EU over human rights and repatriation of powers could be in the offing, and the suspicion will be that as a Europhile, Clarke won't pursue these causes with the vigour that the Tories need him to.

High point: Calling Theresa May out over the cat story at last year's party conference.
Low point: Continuing to fall asleep at the wrong moment
Chances of being moved: High

andrew mitchell

Andrew Mitchell

Personally close to David Cameron, Mitchell is thought to be bored at International Development and in need of a fresh challenge. But the boredom seems to have got to Mitchell lately - with an interview in the New Statesman on gay marriage being criticised by right-wingers. It raised questions about whether Mitchell - whose ring-fenced department hasn't had to experience austerity like all the others - could be trusted with a big job in government. Behind the scenes he can take credit for making sure the DfID budget is spent properly, although there are still massive questions of accountability and cost-effectiveness in where the overseas aid money goes. Some say he's smart and convivial, others find him too wooly to play with the big toys.

High point: Aid to countries which don't need it (China, Russia) has been slashed
Low point: Saying only old people were opponents of gay marriage
Chances of being moved: Moderate

eric pickles

Eric Pickles

A big bruiser in public who's actually a bit of a pussycat in private around people he likes, Pickles is popular with the Tory grassroots and considered a proper northerner (unlike William Hague who is a posh one). But he must be getting bored with trotting out the same old narrative - "It 's up to councils to decide how to spend their money" - in a department which has massive budget cuts and an increasing risk of horror stories of people falling through the safety net. Pickles was considered a good chairman of the Conservative party when he did the job in opposition. With Sayeeda Warsi's job likely to become vacant could it fall to Pickles to rejuvenate flagging morale?

High point: The Localism Act gave councils greater autonomy
Low point: Budget cuts and transferring responsibilities mean councils are unable to do anything with the new power
Chances of being moved: Moderate