Cambs Carnage in Coalition Shuffle

07:41 Wednesday 5th September 2012
Cambridgeshire’s Bigger Breakfast
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: David Cameron didn’t show a lot of love to our Cambridgeshire MPs yesterday. Andrew Lansley demoted to Leader of the House, Jonathan Djanogly of Huntingdon lost his job as Justice Minister. And earlier, former MP and GP Dr Richard Taylor told us he was flabbergasted by Mr Lansley’s demotion, and doubted Jeremy Hunt’s credentials to take on the health portfolio. (TAPE)
DR RICHARD TAYLOR: I think Cameron wants to get rid of him, because he knows he has made himself very unpopular. But, to give him his credit, he has worked incredibly hard, and studied the NHS for years and years, because he was the Shadow Heath Secretary. Now the worry about Hunt is that he comes in, what is his background? We know very very little about him. What does he know about health? (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well despite being a critic of Mr Lansley’s changes. Dr Taylor wanted the South Cambridgeshire MP to stay on in the role. He also said the changes raised more questions than answers. (TAPE)
DR RICHARD TAYLOR: Is it a sign that David Cameron is genuinely thinking of watering down the proposals somewhat? Is it for Jeremy Hunt a reward for the Olympics? Or is it a punishment for Murdoch for giving him what is an absolutely impossible job? (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well if all that wasn’t enough, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, Jim Paice, was also sacked as Farming Minister. Bob Lawrence is the County Chairman of the NFU. There’s a lot of love for Jim in them there fields, isn’t there?
BOB LAWRENCE: Yes there certainly is. He’s a very good constituency MP, and very loyal to South East Cambridgeshire. So I for one am very disappointed that he’s gone.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. And shocked I would think.
BOB LAWRENCE: Yes, I am really, because I think in his job he’s begun to do some really good things. He’s a local farmer in South East Cambridgeshire with some cattle. He’s well established in East Anglia, being born and bred in Suffolk, and can connect really well with farmers, and has made some of the difficult decisions that were needed.
PAUL STAINTON: He must have done something wrong Bob.
BOB LAWRENCE: I suspect his age may have told against him. I think he’s 63 now. And just latterly I don’t think he’s performed particularly well in the milk pricing and dairy debate that there was recently. Alebit, rather ironically, yesterday, finally, we did have a code of practice for milk announced, which he’s been working really hard on. So he’s got there on that one.
PAUL STAINTON: Myrtle in Ely’s been on. She says, “I met Jim Paice Paul, and he knows his job. I liken the reshuffle to people doing an apprenticeship as an electrician, and then becoming a plumber. You lose what you’ve learned.” And that’s a danger, isn’t it?
BOB LAWRENCE: Oh certainly. And indeed he was Shadow Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture for six years.
PAUL STAINTON: All that expertise down the drain. And then we’ve got Liberal Democrat David Heath. Are you content?
BOB LAWRENCE: I think maybe the cynic in me, with David Heath, is from Somerset, South Somerset ..
PAUL STAINTON: Do we hold that against him Bob.
BOB LAWRENCE: No. But the really crucial thing the Government’s got to execute now successfully is the control programme with culling badgers, to eliminate TB in cattle. And he’s right in one of the cull hotspots. So if he gets that wrong, I can imagine there’ll be a lot of very angry dairy farmers from the South West. So he’s certainly right in the firing line on that one.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. And it’s not just Jim Paice of course who’s being moved on. Caroline Spelman as well, DEFRA Secretary is also being replaced. So we’ve got both of those Ministers moved on. Now wer’ve got two new Ministers to grapple with all those complex policy areas, like CAP reform, and like you mentioned, the bovine TB thing. This has got recipe for disaster written all over it, hasn’t it?
BOB LAWRENCE: Potentially, yes. But Paterson, the Conservative’s new Secretary of State again is from North Shropshire, does know the rural industry well. And again,. I know my NFU colleagues in both Somerset and Shropshire will be holding both of those Ministers to account. So yes, I don’t think they’ve got much room for error. But they’ve certainly got a lot on their plate at the moment.
PAUL STAINTON: Well we shall wait and see what happens, and what occurs. Jim Paice will be disappointed this morning though.