The Bird Fair was great – and will have provided much inspiration for future blogs.  I’ll come back to it soon but let’s change tack to politics.

David Cameron, and everyone else, deserves a holiday, but the PM’s mind may be spinning over a rumoured reshuffle.  Let me first say that I think that it is a good thing that we have got this far without much ministerial movement – ministerial jobs, including the most junior ministerial posts, are big jobs.  They take time to master and I’d rather have people in them who have learned a bit about what is needed than a series of newcomers.  But, change is eventually needed and is an opportunity to make some important changes.

I wonder what might happen?

If George Osborne is moved to Foreign Secretary he may be in a less powerful position to harm the environment through his decisions – maybe.

Over the years it has been easy to believe that Prime Ministers have had the Westminster environment department (now Defra) quite a long way down their lists but I care deeply about who occupies Nobel House.

There must be a chance that Defra will soon see a LibDem minister somewhere in the ministerial team.  Andrew George would be an obvious candidate, and I think would be welcomed by many NGOs as he is a respected figure.  But where would he fit in to Defra?  And it’s not always the obvious that happens.

For every new minister coming in through the door one must leave.  Without wanting to be too personal about things, there is quite a large element of ‘better the devil you know‘ in these things.  And the phrase ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire‘ springs to mind too.

It would be very striking if the PM reverted to Plan A and brought Nick Herbert into Defra as Secretary of State at a time when tensions over hen harriers and grouse, pheasants and buzzards, cormorants and fish are rather high.  Surely that can’t happen?

Might Richard Benyon be destined for promotion through moving to another department – perhaps the MoD?

Will there be space in the ministerial ranks to keep James Paice at Defra or as a minister?  There are plenty of eager young MPs looking for advancement but I, for one, would miss Mr Paice’s cheery smile.  A cabinet post is very unlikely so the only ways are to stand still, move sideways or head down or out. It is a hard life being at the mercy of a Prime Minister’s reshuffle.

And Caroline Spelman herself? One of relatively few women in the cabinet she would make a good replacement, maybe, for Mr Pickles as she shadowed CLG before the general election.

As one of the brightest and most environmentally aware Tory MPs is there any chance that Zac Goldsmith might get a job – probably not!

This is not a race – as although there is a winning post no-one knows where it is or how long the race, nor over what course.  I’m not betting at all.  Anyone got any tips or favoured runners?  And is the PM enjoying wrestling with these thoughts on his holiday?


5 Replies to “Shuffle”

  1. …although there is a winning post no-one knows where it is or how long the race, nor over what course. I’m not betting at all. Anyone got any tips or favoured runners?

    So Mark, think long, think marathon! You’re still a young man (I know, I saw you at the Birdfair) I understand that there is a vacancy in your neck of the woods so how about MA for Secretary of State in the next government!! That would shake ’em up.

    Loving the book.


    1. Richard – I’m glad that you are loving the book and it was of course nice to see you at the Bird Fair. But as to the rest of your comment…

  2. Hi Mark,love the book and have to agree with everything up to page 128 especially looking forward farmland birds.
    Perhaps a bit strong on page 120 about replacing some old dinosaurs,surely as we get older we become more wildlife friendly(of course not everyone)and almost part of the farmland bird problem may even be that these young farmers starting out have been to college and learnt about maximum economics and are under tremendous financial pressure whereas the older farmer has paid for the farm probably and is not under the same pressure.Really just food for thought.

    1. Dennis – thank you so much. I was wondering what you would think of Chapter 7 – Hope for farmland birds – and I’m so glad that it passed the ‘Dennis test’.

  3. Hi Mark,I cannot hardly believe how all your observations are so obvious once pointed out and I have just finished chapter 7 about Farmland birds and we need to do more obviously before numbers get too low.
    Chapter 7 the best so far especially “The Way Forward”.
    Do not think any bird and wildlife lover can find anything to disagree with in the book which is written in a very nice manner (you have kept your provocative side well under control),just had to smile though as a young scientist you studied scientifically for think it was your PhD some bats and concluded that in winter temp had to be above 50 F then you found Gilbert White had found the same 200 years earlier I suppose by ordinary observation,priceless.
    Thank you Mark,concentration not great at moment and book is great to read in short spells.

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