With the World Cup upon us, there will be plenty of opportunity to indulge in fantasy football musings And on the evidence of last week’s Cabinet appointments, I shall be asking David Cameron to do mine.
First there was the reluctance to position Vince Cable at the Treasury department. Twelve months ago, Cable’s star was ascendant but the pressures of the election campaign exposed his fault-lines and given the brutality of the decisions now needed by the Chancellor, Cable is best-placed looking after the banks. For in that sector, most of the remedial action has already been taken and one, perhaps vainly, hopes that he can get the banks lending again.
Second was the return of Iain Duncan Smith who, alongside Chris Grayling, is set to ensure that the Department for Work and Pensions will not be a department to trifle with and nor a carousel for fledgling junior ministers to cut their teeth in.
He is the perfect selection for this role given the seismic changes needed in this field and the probable trade union agitation we are going to witness in the months ahead.
On work and pensions issues, Cameron needs to cut the hydra’s head off at outset if we are to avoid national bankruptcy. In a paradoxical way one repercussion of IDS’ appointment and the inevitable green papers which will follow is that thousands of workers will now finally need to consult IFA professionals for advice on their threatened retirement plans and protection gaps. That will be an emotionally challenging experience for many but one which most minimally qualified high-street bank adviser forces will be ill-equipped to remedy.
Another returning stalwart is Ken Clarke. There may well be something of the Rose & Crown about our Ken but in my opinion he was the finest Chancellor of the last 30 years. His portfolio is the Justice department but the real benefit of his Cabinet position will be having him lending guidance to a callow George Osborne who may well be Cameron’s slippiest banana skin in his own ranks.
Finally, and on the theme of fantasy or discretionary appointments, my own wild-card appointment in the weeks ahead would feature Chris Cummings being given a high-ranking position at the FSA. Cummings has been a real statesman for Aifa in recent years and oozes common sense and diplomacy.
Kevin Duffy is managing director of Mortgageforce