David Cameron completed his first reshuffle today by, amongst numerous other errors of judgment, promoting a crook and hiring an anti-equality justice secretary. Although the most grievous error of judgment was arguably a change that didn’t happen. With failed, unpopular chancellor, George Osborne, keeping his post. But perhaps of more concern overall is the continuing retreat from reason and secularism that seems characteristic of the right-wing both in the UK and US in recent years.
This was a bad day for British politics. Both in terms of the competence and trustworthiness of the appointments and the more general attitude and beliefs of the government that they convey. We’ve seen the promotion of Jeremy Hunt, the disgraced former culture secretary, who now takes over as health secretary. Perhaps he served David Cameron well as a human shield at Leveson and has been rewarded. Or perhaps Hunt knows where the bodies are buried and Cameron can’t sack him.
Then there’s homophobe, Chris Grayling, who becomes justice secretary. This is the man who thought it reasonable for B&B owners to discriminate against gay couples. Also, we have a new environment minister, Owen Paterson, who is against renewable energy. Meanwhile Grant Shapps, recently revealed as a get rich quick scammer and sock puppeteer, becomes Tory co-chair and minister without portfolio. Presumably to work similar sleight of hand wherever it’s needed.
But magic and deceit are seemingly much more in keeping with the attitude and beliefs of this UK government, perhaps following the lead of US conservatives. We now have a health secretary, in Jeremy Hunt, who is pro-homeopathy, anti-abortion, and in favour of dismantling the NHS. We also have financially dodgy, anti-rationalist, and anti-secularist, Baroness Warsi, as faith and communities secretary. A suspicious job title in itself.
These appointments should be seen as a statement of intent by David Cameron that his government is no longer interested in reason. Maybe he wants to stir up the same kind of buzz that US right-wingers have achieved by attacking science, reason, and secularism. Cameron and his chums were never bright enough to use reason to solve the country’s problems. So now they’ve simply given up on it. They’re going to concentrate on praying and other quack remedies instead.