I’m bored to tears of all the threats and counter threats surrounding Boris Johnson’s political standing. He’s been unfit for that office from the day he first contemplated entering it from his boarding school dormitory. Each day he’s spent in it has only served to remind the world why he should be nowhere near it.
Last week’s spluttering speech from the Prime Minister defined the conference and potentially her political life, but it also masked some of the most abhorrent behaviour from other leading Tories. Not least Boris and his remarks that Libya could be a nice tourist destination once they’d cleared the bodies from the streets. The darkest of TV satires wouldn’t have dared say that – why then does the Foreign Secretary get away it?
We all know who Theresa May should sack and equally, we all know why she won’t or can’t do it. So the far more interesting question is when will Nicola Sturgeon reshuffle her Cabinet?
She doesn’t have to sack anyone to put them back in line like the Prime Minister does with Boris. Neither is she under any real or sustained personal pressure but she does desperately need to reshuffle her pack to breath some life back in to it.
Three times in the last few months’ rumours of a reshuffle have circulated Holyrood. Once at the start of the summer, again at the end and just before the Party conference which will hear from the First Minister today. Each time felt like the perfect moment and each passed in the night.
Chief amongst those under the reshuffle spotlight should be Shona Robison. Let’s be clear, whoever takes over at Health is going to have an in-tray from hell. Big decisions over hospital closures, waiting times running riot, bed blocking building on the increase and a demoralised staff desperate for a pay rise just starters for ten.
It’s not the decisions she’s taken that’s the problem – it’s complete lack of them. She was served up a workforce crisis by Nicola Sturgeon and has only let it fester on her watch. What’s more that she just looks thoroughly bored and disinterested in the job, like her heart just isn’t in it.
The SNP need a new health secretary with a bit of vitality, someone prepared to take on the big decisions and battle through them with some first principles. Someone with a bit of drive and hunger. Newbie Jeane Freeman fits the bill and that in-tray from hell might be the one thing that tames her.
So what to do with Shona Robison? Well I’d make her a new cabinet secretary for Social Security. The SNP are desperate to talk down the potential of the Scottish Parliament’s new powers. Keen to avoid doing anything too bold. They want to spend as much time as possible highlighting what can’t be done. After her stint at health, there’s clearly nobody better than Shona Robison.
Winter is coming. Time Nicola Sturgeon got the sandbags out for the NHS and started to thaw the malaise at the heart of her government.
This article first appeared in the Daily Record newspaper on the 10th of October.