Another revolving door

Written by Neil Evans on 15 July 2014

During the 2010 election campaign I interviewed David Cameron as he toured the country in one of his last appeals for Scottish votes.

In a boardroom near Aberdeen and flanked by a panel of local Tories, one of the main topics of conversation was his party’s policy on energy.

There were laughs around the table as he ridiculed the frequency with which the Labour government under Blair and Brown had gone through energy ministers – what he could offer was a bit more stability.

The latest reshuffle has seen wholesale changes for both cabinet and junior ministers, with William Hague, Ken Clarke and Owen Paterson all leaving the government – and Michael Gove moving from Education Secretary to chief whip.

But with with just under a year to go until the next General Election, DECC has yet again suffered from more chopping and changing.

In the latest reshuffle – which has seen wholesale changes across both the cabinet and junior ministers – Greg Barker, minister for state for climate change since the start of the coalition, is gone and Michael Fallon, who added energy to his brief only last year, has been promoted to Defence Secretary.

Replaced by Amber Rudd and Matt Hancock, Barker and Fallon, join a long list of ex-energy ministers including Charles Hendry and John Hayes under the Coalition and others like Malcolm Wicks and Joan Ruddock under Labour;  but the Lib Dems are not protected from this either, Ed Davey was brought in to replace Chris Huhne after his false speeding-ticket related resignation – and even Davey had been rumoured to be up for replacement.

Energy policy is as volatile and politically sensitive as ever – and while the Energy Act was passed last year, there are still some crucial months ahead, not least with the allocation of Contracts for Difference as part of Electricity Market Reform. While Scotland has its own Energy Minister – Fergus Ewing – much of the policy that influences what happens in Scotland still lays at the feet of DECC.

Speaking to Holyrood earlier this year Charles Hendry said that despite changes within the department there had still been a strong consistency of policy.

Neil Evans

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