Cabinet re-shuffle sees all new justice team, but does that mean deal or bust for probation.
A cabinet re-shuffle in January left some political analysts underwhelmed. The promise of increased diversity amongst the top ranks failed to materialise with white males still holding the majority of positions, and the “new talent” reserved for junior ministerial roles.
While Theresa May continued to defend her selections across government, Napo members would no doubt have paid particular attention to the team handpicked to lead the charge on justice.
Consistency in leadership has not been the ministry’s strong suit the past few years. Grayling’s disastrous appointment in 2012 was succeeded by four more justice secretaries – the last being David Gauke who made the move from work and pensions.
Gauke’s appointment received a positive reaction – his law background making him seemingly more qualified than some of his predecessors. He also hit the ground running announcing a review into the transparency of the parole system within hours of taking the reins. While no statement has been made on his intentions for the probation service at the time of writing this, it would be interesting to see how a politician who has a reputation for troubleshooting solves a problem like probation.
Sam Gyimah’s rebrand as universities minister made way for Rory Stewart OBE to take up the justice minister role. Stewart, who earned his politic stripes in foreign affairs, was a shock appointment for some since he was doing so well in his previous post. Nonetheless, let’s hope his skills in diplomacy and hostile environments stand him in good stead for the justice sector’s difficult terrain.