The appointment of Michael Fallon to the energy brief will delight everyone. He shares the climate change scepticism of his predecessor, but will keep his focus on how to keep costs down for consumers, and how to secure long-term cheap energy.
Michael Fallon MP, the new energy minister: economically hard-nosed
Two significant announcements from No 10 this morning that should give the carpers (yes, I include myself) something to cheer quietly about. John Hayes is leaving the energy brief to become the Prime Minister’s senior parliamentary adviser. He remains a minister, but is assigned to the Cabinet Office (where as an IDS loyalist he can renew links with Francis Maude – that should be fun). Sam Gimyah stays on as PPS – No10 is clear that despite mutterings from backbenchers Mr Cameron values his work. This should be seen as a reinforcement of the team, but also an acknowledgment that work needs to be done to rebuild relations between the PM and his troops. Mr Hayes is of the traditionalist right, a leading light in Cornerstone. No10 hopes that by deploying his energies on reconnecting Mr Cameron with his core supporters, he will help develop a re-energised Toryism after two years of Coalition centrism. There’s a big push going on, with No10 advisers being deployed to the Commons (specifically the PCH coffee shop) to hold talks with MPs to garner their views about the operation, Dave, and what can be improved. Mr Cameron has been inviting in small groups of MPs, and rather than warm wine and cold vol-au-vents, the meetings have been given structure and more formality to denote seriousness.
The appointment of Michael Fallon to the energy brief will delight everyone. He is one of the proper grown-ups in the Government, economically dry as a bone, ambitious in policy, open to radical ideas, and as a Scot and a former Northern MP who has made a great success in business, he is miles away from the metropolitan gilded smugness that some find too apparent in government these days. His job will be to bring some hard-nosed economics to DECC, while managing the politics of a Lib Dem controlled department, which Mr Hayes signally failed to do. Mr Fallon is happy to advertise his contempt for the yellow peril, but he is also politically smart and has been able to forge a working relationship with Vince Cable that has been surprisingly productive. His brief in particular will be to help secure private investment for an energy revolution that’s needed in nuclear, gas and especially shale. He shares the climate change scepticism of his predecessor, but will keep his focus on the point George Osborne keeps making: how to keep costs down for consumers, and how to secure long-term cheap energy.