There had been so much focus on the Prime Minister bringing more women into the government that it was inevitable the papers would focus in on Esther McVey.
OK perhaps she did milk the photographers’ attention, lingering a little too long on the No 10 doorstep, but the MP for Wirral West is very different in many ways from the average Tory Minister.
We are familiar with her life story. Daughter of a scrap merchant turned property developer, she has run her own business and had a career as a television presenter. With her Liverpool accent, she’s down to earth with the people she meets.
She’s still in her first term in parliament but has had four promotions from parliamentary private secretary to junior minister, Minister of State and now attending Cabinet when her ministerial responsibilities at the Department for Work and Pensions are discussed.
It’s a shame she wasn’t given a full Cabinet place, perhaps replacing Michael Gove at Education, but Esther McVey is now clearly the second most senior Tory in the North West behind the Chancellor and Tatton MP George Osborne.
But who else is in the government from the North?
Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North) has taken a whips job, Crewe’s Edward Timpson remains at Education and ex Trafford Council leader Susan Williams holds a government post in the Lords.
However the drive to appoint women and Tory MPs with an ethnic background has left a raft of male and pale MPs disappointed. I’ve selected six North West Conservatives who could easily have been on the ministerial ladder now. Leading the way are Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) and Jake Berry (Rossendale) along with David Rutley (Macclesfield) David Morris (Morecambe) David Mowat (Warrington South) and Graham Evans (Weaver Vale).
The North needs more voices in the corridors of power, especially after the departure of William Hague. I was genuinely shocked that he wanted to give up one of the best jobs in government leave alone quitting politics altogether next year.
The consequence of that is that we have a new Foreign Secretary who has openly contemplated leaving the European Union. The appointment of Philip Hammond and other changes to the government show that David Cameron is determined to try and win next year’s General Election on a highly Eurosceptic platform.
The Attorney General Dominic Grieve was sacked because he warned against plans for the UK government to limit the power of the European Court of Human Rights.
The almost anonymous Lord Hill has been put forward as the UK’s nominee for EU Commissioner. That’s hardly designed to guarantee us a key economic portfolio. If he is put in charge of paper clips then we can have another Juncker style row which will make renegotiating the treaty even harder.
Then there will be the absence of Ken Clarke from the Cabinet table. He would have made a good Prime Minister but paid the price for his pro European views. Now his wise advise for us not to become obsessed with Europe will be absent from the Cabinet table.
Of course the car crash with Europe won’t happen if Labour win the election, but the anti European populist theme that runs through this reshuffle is likely to ensure that doesn’t happen.