Government to focus on delivery

Cabinet Reshuffle attempts to position Government as a team of 'do-ers' rather than abstract thinkers.

David Cameron's Cabinet reshuffle is being seen as an attempt to move Downing Street's comms strategy away from nebulous ideas towards being seen as a Government of 'do-ers'.

The Prime Minister started his first Cabinet shake-up on Tuesday, in a reshuffle that Downing Street claimed would inject 'fighting spirit' into the Government as it approaches the middle of its term.

Open Road associate director Andrew Hobson suggested that Cameron had brought in a team focused on delivery, as a result of troubled reform programmes and confused campaigns such as The Big Society.

'The first part of the coalition was all about reform,' he said. 'Now it is moving to implementation and making it happen. There were questions over whether they needed to pursue this ideological agenda for reform when it wasn't a good time to do it.

'The pieces are in place and now it is about implementing the changes.'

Hobson pointed to the appointment of Transport Secretary Justine Greening into the Department for International Development. She replaces Andrew Mitchell, who oversaw radical changes there.

Greening has gained significant column inches recently for her fighting spirit in opposing a third runway at Heathrow.

Despite this emphasis on implementation, sources have suggested that comms skills remain a priority for Cameron, as the Government struggles to get its message across after a disastrous year.

But commentators agreed that while Cameron will be hoping his fresh faces will give the Government a much-needed boost, this will be challenged by the fact that the messaging will remain the same - austerity tempered by a growth agenda.

One source also questioned the appointment of Hunt as Health Secretary. 'Many will worry whether Hunt is the right man for the job. Over the past two years, the Department for Health needed a communicator and instead had a technocrat. Now it needs a technocrat/implementer and has got a communicator.'

The reshuffle came after a week in which Chancellor George Osborne was booed when presenting medals at the Paralympics, illustrating the growing gulf between the Government and the public over its economic messaging.

It also comes amid concerns that Cameron's top team of political and comms advisers is dwindling (see below).


Chris Martin, head of public affairs, The Communication Group

Ken Clarke's move to Cabinet minister without portfolio appears to be an acknowledgement of the need for experienced 'grey hair' to help shape the Government's economic growth strategy.

Chris Whitehouse, Owner, Whitehouse Consultancy

Andrew Lansley has been demoted, but it allows him to save face and Cameron not to be seen to have abandoned his hard-fought health reforms. New faces will change little. There is no alternative to current policies. We will see more austerity, but can hope for further efforts to stimulate employment and lower taxes.

48%: Proportion of voters who felt George Osborne should go in reshuffle*

20%: Fall in the number of women in the Cabinet following the reshuffle**

£80bn: Commissioning budgets handed by Lansley to GPs in reforms***

£100bn: Budget to be overseen by Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary***

Source: *The Guardian, **Fawcett Society, ***The Independent.

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