Nicky Morgan is set to become Education Secretary in what has been described by many as the most wide ranging reshuffle of David Cameron's premiership. Nicky Morgan takes on the role following the demotion of Michael Gove to Chief Whip. Morgan has enjoyed a rapid rise since her election as MP for Loughborough in 2010. It is no secret that Cameron intended to use this reshuffle to address his 'women's problem,' but with little experience in an education brief it is yet unclear what Morgan will offer the Conservative front benches.
Morgan is a qualified solicitor who worked for a number of years as a corporate lawyer prior to becoming an MP. Morgan unsuccessfully contested the Loughborough seat in 2005. Following her reselection Morgan successfully contested the Loughborough seat in 2010, winning with a majority of over 3,000 votes. Morgan's website would suggest that her work in her local constituency is centred around attracting business to the area, improving schooling standards and expanding volunteering networks. Prior to becoming Education Secretary Morgan has held the positions of; Economic Secretary to the Treasury (2013-2014), an Assistant Government Whip (2012-2013), and the Parliamentary Private Secretary to David Willetts, Cabinet Minister for Universities and Science (2010-2012.) It has taken only four years for Morgan to become Education Secretary since her first election.
Whilst the demotion of Michael Gove was met by relief on the part of many teachers Morgan's parliamentary record would suggest that she may not be the departure they were hoping for. Morgan is a trustee of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and voted against same sex marriage due to her faith. In an article for politics.co.uk she wrote that in regards to teachers and NHS staff 'I would also like to see the culture of individuals taking responsibility for their actions taking root throughout our public services.' Controversies around faith schools and an ever vocal and effective National Union of Teachers dominated Gove's time in office and these issues will no doubt be priorities for Morgan. It will be a challenge for Morgan to balance her religious influences against her desire to deliver a greater sense of accountability. However, her transition into this role could be relatively easy as other than voting against same sex marriage Morgan is seen by many in the party as having a clean record, a fresh departure from Michael Gove.
For many the appointment of Morgan will be met with a great sigh of relief. Many education professionals have described their relationship with Michael Gove as the worst of any Education Secretary. If Morgan is to be successful in her role she will have to establish an agenda that is far more progressive than Gove had put forward. Morgan rarely defies the whip, favoured £9,000 fees and voted against same sex marriage. Her vote against same sex marriage will be a view that is irreconcilable to many, and potentially damaging to a curriculum involving sex education. This appointment should be treat with a reasonable amount of caution, but the feeling for many is anyone is better than Gove.