Already, the first half of January has provided enough political headlines to sustain months of discussion and at least some concern over the functioning of Government. From the Cabinet “reshuffle” to a legitimate eugenics conference at UCL, 2018 is off to a great start.
In the next bid to ensure a “strong and stable” government, Theresa May began a somewhat confusing reshuffling of Cabinet positions. What the Prime Minister described as an effort to bring “fresh talent into Government” saw little change of the most prominent positions: except, perhaps, the potentially superficial change of a handful of titles. Jeremy Hunt, for example, went from Secretary of State for Health, to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: clearly a truly fresh change. This choice also adds further confusion, considering May’s promise to use this reshuffle to “boost delivery in key policy areas”, including social care. After the Winter Crisis of the NHS, one perhaps wouldn’t consider Jeremy Hunt as the key to “boosting delivery.” Furthermore, this definitely fresh Cabinet also sees no change to four major Cabinet positions meaning we will all continue to be subjugated to whatever Boris Johnson says next.
One very obvious change during the reshuffle was Chris Grayling accidentally being promoted to Conservative Chairman for somewhere around thirty seconds before the tweet proclaiming his new position was hastily deleted and the job was given to Brandon Lewis instead. Whilst some have written this up as a minor slip up it is vital to add that this tweet came with a brightly coloured graphic congratulating Grayling. Someone, somewhere, clearly had this (mis)information in advance.
Tragically for the Conservatives, this was not the only recent example of a visible lack of communication. During the first “Prime Minister Questions” of the year, an initial effort to attack Labour’s economic policies turned into May attacking Shadow Education of Secretary Angela Rayner for failing to show up. Quite literally moments later, May was made aware of the fact that Rayner was not present due to medical treatment, and although she apologised “unreservedly” immediately after the fact, it still begs the question as to how she did not know in the first place. Crucially, the House of Commons had already planned for a missing MP with the “pairing” system whereby one Conservative MP does not vote to account for one less Labour MP. (Did nobody tell the Prime Minister?)
If you were having too much fun following the Cabinet Reshuffle and surrounding political shenanigans do not worry: Tim Farron is back to tell you that he’s worse than you remember. Despite reaching new levels of political irrelevance, Farron thought it best to return to tell everyone that actually; he does think gay sex is a sin. During an appearance on Premier Radio he revealed that he “regrets” his previous comments on gay sex; apparently, the public perception of him as maybe at least pretending to be tolerant was far too much and thus he felt compelled to reveal himself fully as both a liar and a homophobe. Congratulations Tim, we all remembered you existed! Feel free to disappear again. New Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has since condemned Farron’s remarks, allowing some distance between the party and their ex-leader.
Finally, Toby Young was appointed to the newly created “Office for Students” before quickly being forced to resign after his many terrible comments were revealed. Amongst these were, of course, a multitude of sexist tweets as well as a 2015 article that included the subheading “progressive eugenics.” Whilst Young may claim an innocent thought experiment on some kind of pseudo-science redistribution of IQ (definitely not how anything works) his actions are made more sinister with his reported appearance at a controversial eugenics event at UCL, as exposed by “London Student”. The event, “London Conference on Intelligence”, saw a frightening number of white nationalists in attendance with the clear purpose to discuss discredited racial theories on genetics. To be worried about this event, which has occurred for a few years now, would not be an overreaction. At the very least, Young did resign from his post after exposure from members of the Labour Party and enough noise on Twitter.
[Éirinn Fitzgerald – @eirinnfi]