On the whole the much-touted Cabinet reshuffle has been a damp squib. None of the senior positions were touched though Ken Clarke has finally been shuffled out of any position of responsibility and the egregious Baroness Warsi has lost the chairmanship of the party, something that the Prime Minister ought to have put into effect a while ago.

Most of the predicted moves did come about: Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Mitchell, Justine Greening and one or two others are no longer in the position they were last week.

There was some rejoicing and gnashing of teeth about the government, allegedly, becoming more right-wing but that has been countered by the fact that the Lib-Dems, the party that raised its share of votes in the last election by all of 1 per cent, lost several seats and whose vote has now collapsed, have been given another place in the Cabinet. There seems no point to it. David Laws, he of the expenses scandal in the new government, has been given a junior post in the Department of Education. He will, however, "attend Cabinet and have a roving brief across Government", whatever that might mean.

Of the new Ministers two might affect the question of fisheries: Justine Greening, now at International Development (the ministry that would be the first to be abolished if there were any justice in the world) where she might get involved in some of the fisheries negotiations with third countries. It is hard to predict how Ms Greening will behave. So far, she has not been a success in any of her positions. This might change but then again it might not.

So we go on to the new Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson. This is an interesting choice as Mr Paterson has shown himself to be somewhat rebellious at various times. He is a man who actually knows and cares about the environment and who is, unlike some of the others who have been promoted, on the right of the party. This is what James Delingpole wrote about him in the Daily Telegraph:

Paterson is a man of principle and a fighter and may prove much more reluctant to be trampled on than was his chocolate fireguard of a predecessor, Caroline Spelman. He is pro fox hunting; pro shale gas; pro free markets; he is anti wind farms; anti gay marriage. The kind of sound Tory MP you almost feared they didn't make any more.

FAL has no opinions on gay marriage but, on the whole, supports the other points made by Mr Delingpole, who, incidentally, has decided to stand in he forthcoming Corby by-election as an independent anti-windfarm candidate.

Above all, let us not forget that it was Owen Paterson who, as Conservative spokesman on fisheries came up with the first sensible policy on the subject for decades. It probably needs some updating and that is one thing this blog is preparing to take on but, just in case there are readers who have not seen it, here is a link to it.

Of course, there is a very big fly in the ointment. Sometimes it is called the elephant in the room. It is the European Union. Environment is a wholly EU competence (as is fishing) and any UK Minister is going to find it difficult to achieve anything. We do, however, wish Mr Paterson well and hope that he will do the difficult thing. We are ready to help and advise. In fact, FAL has requested a meeting in November by which time, it is to be hoped, Mr Paterson has acclimatized himself to the new position.


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