Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Is Clegg planning to make LibDem frontbench smaller as one silver lining of the Euro-fiasco?

One of the points I raised below was the massive size of the LibDem frontbench; roughly half of their parliamenarty party hold "senior" positions. It is notable that Nick Clegg has reshuffled his team by effectivly removing the jobs of the quitting MPs; Tim Farron's Countryside brief will move the Environment Spokesman Steve Webb, David Heath's Justice portfolio now moves to Home Affairs Spokesman Chris Huhne and Scottish/N.Ireland Spokesman Alistair Carmichael has his jobs moved to International Development Spokesman Michael Moore.

Firstly, this is fast moving - Clegg did this within an hour of their resignations, meaning he knew about them and has made these decisions before the ink was dry. I think that looks bad on him as a leader. Secondly this could, I'm informed, be part of a plan to slim down his top team in the future to ensure that less MPs can drag his party down by opposing his whip - after all, you can live with awkward backbenchers, but not with maverick frontbenchers.

Obviously Clegg will have to re-appoint a Justice Spokesman but Countryside, Scotland and N.Ireland are likely to be extra part time jobs for some poor unsuspecting LibDem MP. And when he does have the full reshuffle expect a bigger cull.

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