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What David Cameron’s decision to keep Sir George Young as chief whip tells us

17 June 2013

Tory MPs have long assumed that Sir George Young would be shuffled out of the job of chief whip at the next reshuffle. The 71 year old had, after all, been retired from the Cabinet with honours last September only to be recalled and made chief whip following Andrew Mitchell’s resignation.

But David Cameron has now indicated to the chief whip that he’ll not be moved in the coming reshuffle. Cameron keeping the 71 year old Young in place has surprised Tory MPs; there’s concern among the younger generation that this indicates that not many more of them will get jobs this time round.


Cameron leaving Sir George in post is another sign that he accepts that whipping the party is a particularly hard job in coalition. Unlike some others in Downing Street, he doesn’t subscribe to the view that all that is needed is the smack of strong discipline. He also hopes that the party will become, to use his old chief whip Patrick McLoughlin’s phrase, ‘self-whipping’ as the next general election approaches.

I suspect that Cameron’s decision was also based on the fact that there is no obvious replacement. It would be hard to bring back Andrew Mitchell given the very public debate about whether he should stay in the job. Liam Fox is favoured by some of those close to George Osborne. But I understand that Cameron is opposed to the idea—he’s told one Cameroon minister that he doesn’t think Fox could work in that role. Then, there’s Eric Pickles. As the party chairman for the 2010 election, Pickles knows the new intake as well as anyone. But he has let it be known that he’s emphatically not interested in the job.

The fact Young’s status was assumed to be only temporary has made it harder for him to establish his authority. Some backbenchers have been happy to cross him, confident in the belief that the slate will be wiped clean when a new chief arrives. This indication that he is sticking around should help Young with that.

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  • pinkgunnergirl

    There is only 22 months until a Labour Government, so it matters not, in the grand scheme of things.

  • Seadog

    Young is responsible for the train smash that was the privatisation of the railways. The bicycling baronet should ride off into the sunset.

  • Davidh

    Liam Fox? You’ve got to be joking. He was caught red handed running a parallel foreign policy at the Ministry of Defence with Adam Werritty as go-between and unofficial SPAD. Adam “the dodgy lobbyist handing out fake MOD business cards and taking guidance from US political groups and Israeli spooks” Werritty. The man should be in jail, not planning a political comeback.

    But what to expect? Morality in UK public service seems about that of a third world dictatorship. People get what they vote for, though, so I blame the public in the end. It’s like an abusive relationship.

  • HookesLaw

    Your last paragraph points to the reason why its not a good idea to have a temporary whip and why you should never assume anything.

  • kyalami

    To exercise power, no-one other than the PM should be aware of the outcome of a reshuffle before it happens.

  • Span Ows

    I’m sure they’d be a queue around the block if you asked the public whether they’d be interested in whipping the party.

  • Colin Forbes

    What this ‘decision’ tells us is that ‘Dave’ is a busted flush and should be packing his bags for a permanent spot of ‘chillaxing’ in Ibiza or wherever it is that he flees to at at the first sign of trouble. It also tells us that he is rubbish at reshuffles, rubbish at relationships with his party – parliamentary and in the country and very good at sending signals to the opposition at how rubbish he is. As well as being pretty good at stoking continual leadership discussions which are not helpful to the country he is supposed to be governing. At the moment it appears to be only Old Etonian arrogance that enables him to believe that he’s got what it takes to remain in office. The rest of, unfettered by such a handicap, know that he hasn’t.

  • swatnan

    You won’t find more of a gent baronet in the Commons than Sir George.
    If Sir George had been elected Speaker, the Commons would be a far better place. Bercow should do the decent thing now and step down and make way for Sir George in the Speakers Chair.

    • 2trueblue

      You would have to define the meaning of ‘decent’ to the wee lad.

  • CraigStrachan

    “he doesn’t think Fox would work in that role”

    Fox would work. On his own ambitions.

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    Does this all have the May Day (“M’aidez!”) whiff of those Kremlinologists who made assumptions about ups-and-downs, based on who stood where on Lenin’s tomb?

  • ScaryBiscuits

    It’s all a bit desperate in Dave’s bunker. He’s so at odds with the rest of his party, particularly the younger ones that he’s relying on an ironically-named old Establishment stooge to keep him going.
    Perhaps this will convince a few more of the newer MPs that Dave’s never going to change and that if they want to win the next election, they’re going to have to change him for somebody – anybody – else. Or maybe it won’t – and they can all follow the leader off a cliff like they did in 1997.

    • telemachus

      All is lost
      If they change him it looks like panic and they lose
      If they keep him the Baron faction are so stupid that they will continue to provoke disunity
      This to get her with UKIP will return us to reasonable government in 2015

      • Adrian Drummond

        ” the Baron faction”

        See what I mean…. utter,utter bigots….

        • telemachus

          One day we will all give thanks for Baron

      • kyalami

        Are you at all familiar with grammar? We could start with Subject-Verb-Object and see how it goes.

    • Fergus Pickering

      You all say’ ‘Change him!’ but you none of you say who for. Liam Fox perhaps? The best available choice is probably the lady with the shoes, but I don’t think you’d like that. Boris and that other MEP. excellent but his name escapes me, are unavailable. Gove, wisely, doesn’t want it. Duncan Smith already failed. There’s another chp (old Etonian) who would be my choice but he’s but a backbencher. Can’t remember his name either. Come on.Who do you WANT? Naw, you’ve no bloody idea.

  • Adrian Drummond

    It was a great loss to the country that Young was not made Speaker instead of that waste of space Martin (remember him? and even the recent twerp we have now, er, … that little guy, hooked up with a tramp – for want of better words). It was only Labour’s class conscious snobs that prevented it.

    • ScaryBiscuits

      Young was alas responsible for fixing the vote to get the sanctimonious dwarf made Speaker, feigning deafness when he asked if anybody disagreed – one of the more blatant abuses of Parliamentary process in modern times and a sad start to Cameron’s premiership.

      • Adrian Drummond

        The present speaker was elected with the overwhelming support of New Labour. Utter, utter bigoted cretins of the first order.

      • HookesLaw

        Bercow was elected speaker in 2009 before Cameron became PM.

        If there is one thing that a PM should not meddle into its the election of the speaker.

        • Adrian Drummond

          You are right. Blair and Brown were a disaster.

        • 2trueblue

          Bercow was never the less elected because Liebore wanted him there. He is their man.

    • McClane

      She’s not a bit of trash. I’ve heard she’s worth every penny.

      • 2trueblue

        Worth a lot less this week…….. not being able to keep her mouth shut has cost her quite a bit.

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