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Grant Shapps’ shameful voting record

Grant Shapps' shameful voting record

Grant Shapps’ shameful voting record

Tory Grant Shapps faces legal action – joining Cameron in that queue

Tory Grant Shapps faces legal action – thus joining Cameron in that queue who was sued for breaching freedom of speech laws

Grant Shapps faces legal action

Grant Shapps faces legal action

Be a Cabinet Minister – No experience or qualifications required (except for Lord Chancellor role)

Be a Cabinet Minister - No experience or qualifications required

Be a Cabinet Minister – No experience or qualifications required

Cabinet Ministers come and go over the years but if you notice one or two who seem out of their depth you’re not alone. So how did they get the job? Well it’s up to the Prime Minister to form his or her Cabinet from the collection of MPs (or indeed Lords) of his/her political party.

No qualifications or experience needed to be a cabinet minister! – see for yourself in the ICO response

Let’s put names to the numbers (and faces) above:

1. Chief Whip

Patrick McLoughlin  (2010-12); Andrew Mitchell (Sept-Oct 2012);  Sir George Young (2012-14);  Michael Gove (2014-)
The job usually involves imposing disciple, but Gove’s job will include selling the Tories to the voters.

2. Home Secretary

Theresa May (2010-)
Tough, having survived an open feud with Gove. Still a contender for the leadership.

3. Universities and Science Minister

David Willetts (2010-14);  Greg Clark (2014-)
Academics liked Willetts though the reforms he oversaw were unpopular. A hard act to follow.

4. Cabinet Office Minister, for Policy

Oliver Letwin (2010-)
A job created for the  cerebral Mr Letwin.

5. Business Secretary

Vince Cable (2010-)
Much criticised over the cut-price sale of Royal Mail – but it is for Nick Clegg to decide whether to sack him.

6. Paymaster General

Francis Maude (2010-)
Maude’s main task has been civil service reform. Many civil servants would like to see the back of him, but he is still there.

7. Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government

Eric Pickles (2010-)
Pickles has upset a lot of councillors and it  was thought he might be sacked, but he remains.

8. Leader of the Lords 

Lord Strathclyde (2010-13); Lord Hill (2013-14); Baroness Stowell (2014-)
Baroness Stowell is not a full member of Cabinet, unlike her predecessors.

9. Health Secretary

Andrew Lansley (2010-12); Jeremy Hunt (2012-)
After Lansley’s frenetic and ill-judged NHS reforms, Hunt’s job is to keep the  NHS out of the news.

10. Leader of the Commons

Sir George Young (2010-12); Andrew Lansley (2012-14); William Hague (2014-)
Organising Commons business will not take much time – Hague’s real job will be promoting the Tories.

11. Education Secretary

Michael Gove (2010-14); Nicky Morgan (2014-)
Morgan’s task will be to keep education out of the news in order not to put teachers off voting Conservative.

12. International Development Secretary

Andrew Mitchell (2010-2012); Justine Greening (2012-)
Cameron would not like you to think the Conservatives do not care about the Third World, so Greening is left  to dispense a big budget.

13. Transport Secretary

Philip Hammond (2010-12); Patrick McLoughlin (2012-)
HS2 was sorted before McLoughlin arrived, and Heathrow expansion is being left until after the election.

14. Energy Secretary

Chris Huhne (2010-12); Ed Davey (2012-)
A good job for a Liberal Democrat with an ambition to replace Nick Clegg –  provided he drives with care.

15. Culture Secretary

Jeremy Hunt (2010-12); Maria Miller (2012-14); Sajid Javid  (2014-)
A small department but with hugely sensitive issues like press regulation. Javid has so far avoided controversy

16. Northern Ireland Secretary

Owen Paterson (2010-12); Theresa Villiers (2012-)
Northern Ireland’s home-grown politicians decide how difficult this job is – for now it is relatively problem free.

17. Scottish Secretary

Danny Alexander (2010); Michael Moore (2010-13); Alistair Carmichael (2013-)
His main – and only –task is to keep Scotland in the UK.

18. Attorney General

Dominic Grieve (2010-14); Jeremy Wright (2014-)
If the intention is to renounce European Human Rights legislation, sacking Grieve was a necessary first step.

19. Cabinet Secretary

Sir Gus O’Donnell (2005-11) Sir Jeremy Haywood (2012-)
The Cabinet Secretary makes sure the Whitehall machine carries on as normal.

20. Work and Pensions Secretary 

Iain Duncan Smith (2010-)
Still there so he can clear up his own mess.

21. Defence Secretary 

Liam Fox (2010-11); Philip Hammond (2011-14); Michael Fallon (2014-)
A well-timed announcement of extra money for defence should make Fallon’s job easy.

22. Chancellor of the Exchequer 

George Osborne  (2010-)
With the economy beginning to improve, Osborne still has his eyes on being the next Conservative Prime Minister

23. Foreign Secretary

William Hague (2010-14); Philip Hammond (2014-)
Hague’s successor will have to knuckle down to sorting relations with Europe.

24. Prime Minister

David Cameron

25. Deputy Prime Minister

Nick Clegg

26. Conservative Chairman

Baroness Warsi (2010-12); Grant Shapps (2012-)
Shapps has belied predictions that he would be sacked, but with Hague and Gove now available, he will not be in sole charge of the campaign.

27. Welsh Secretary 

Cheryl Gillan (2010-12); David Jones (2012-14); Stephen Crabbe (2014-)
A non-job since devolution.

28. Environment Secretary 

Caroline Spelman (2010-12); Owen Paterson (2011-14); Liz Truss (2014-)
Both predecessors were sacked. She must get flood defences in place and think twice about the badger cull.

29. Justice Secretary

Kenneth Clarke (2010- 12); Chris Grayling (2012-)
Grayling is in conflict with judges over legal aid and with Europe over human rights law, which pleases the right.  Of course it would save the taxpayer money if Grayling was actually a qualified lawyer (but he isn’t so it doesn’t).

30. Chief Secretary to  the Treasury

David Laws (May 2010); Danny Alexander (2010-)
Until recently, Alexander’s main task was smoothing over relations between  Coalition partners.

So what was the giveaway to us that they weren’t qualified?

Originally let’s just say “the clues were there” with news stories from 2010 onwards questioning the competence of “the quiet man” Iain Duncan Smith.  Who could forget his “I’m turning up the volume” speech back when he was Tory leader.  But in his role of DWP Minister his (cough) ‘talents’ are there for us all to see.

The next big clue was Helen Grant when she was Minister of Sport.  She was given a little sports quiz with some questions which anyone connected with sport should have been able to answer – but not Ms Grant.  In fact she failed to correctly answer any of the sports questions put to her.  So when that happened, one of our friends put in a Freedom of Information request to find out what qualifications and experience Cabinet Ministers needed.  Guess what?  They had nothing on file!  So the request went to the very helpful Information Commissioner’s Office who provided this statement on the subject:

Cabinet Minister Qualifications & Experience –  ICO Response

Traditionally, the Prime Minister chooses Ministers from elected Members of the House of Commons (MPs). However, they may also choose Members from the House of Lords. Ministers are chosen from individuals who are members of the party of government (or, in the current case, the parties of government).

The Prime Minister may well choose someone who has no direct experience of the work covered by the department, for example, the minister for health is rarely a health professional. However, it is for the Prime Minister to determine what other qualities that person has to fulfil the role. It is also for the Prime Minister to determine whether that person continues to be suitable for the role. The minister themselves may offer their resignation if, for whatever reason, they do not feel able to continue in the ministerial role.

Ministers are regularly challenged in and out of Parliament (for example, in the media) to explain their actions but it remains the Prime Minister’s decision as to whether they are suitable for the

For your general information, here is a link to the UK Parliament website which might be helpful on this general topic:

Here also, for your general information, is a link showing ministers in the current Cabinet. The link provides biographical information but you may, of course, also wish to conduct your own online searches using their names to find biographical information from other independent online sources.

You may well question whether a particular minister is qualified for their ministerial role and you may make an assessment about the party of government and about the Prime Minister based on how well, in your view, their ministers perform. That is a matter for you (and for all of us as the UK electorate).


23 April 2014
Case Reference Number FS50535109

So there you have it – if you’re an elected MP or a Lord (not elected) and you fancy being a cabinet member, have a word with the Prime Minister – no experience or qualifications needed.  Who knows – you may be the next Iain Duncan Smith or Helen Grant.

Additional information sourced from: