As scandals swirl around the Government once again, I’ve been tempted into a pointless but enjoyable reverie of what the ideal Cabinet would look like – one populated by my heroes past and present. The nominations are:
Prime Minister: Jacinda Ardern – there’s no contest. Oh, to have a PM we could be proud of and one we know has all of our interests at heart. Having already spent several years working in Whitehall, she wouldn’t have much catching up to do.
Chancellor: Gordon Brown, without a doubt. He still hasn’t received enough credit for his swift action to save the world from financial chaos in 2008, and his ideas on a post-Covid ‘Marshall Plan’ are spot-on.
Home Secretary: David Lammy – if his vigorous activism is anything to go by, this role could become one of championing the oppressed rather than adding to their woes.
Justice Secretary: Shami Chakrabarti is a shoo-in for this position as a qualified lawyer well-versed in civil liberties.
Foreign Secretary: Neil McGregor, because we need someone who can undo the damage Boris Johnson has done. Multilingual, with a profound understanding of cultures across the world, he could start to repair our reputation.
Health Secretary: Dr Phil Whitaker, GP, who has both a worm’s eye and a bird’s eye view of the health system and takes compassion as his starting point.
Education Secretary: Mark Escott. An unknown, but for this post we don’t need someone whom the present system has benefitted, but someone who failed at education dismally yet now achieves what the state seems unable to by rehabilitating society’s most damaged youngsters.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary: Caroline Lucas, obvs. Informed, with no alignment with vested interests other than ‘Client Earth’, it’s high time her talents moved from the backbenches.
Work and Pensions Secretary: Ellen Wilkinson. Committed, passionate, and a prime mover behind the Jarrow March of 1936, she had a keen understanding of how hard people’s lives can be.
Communities and Local Government Secretary: Ada Salter – accept no substitute. London’s first female elected mayor, she embedded herself in impoverished Bermondsey to champion its residents, fought successfully for improved housing and created green recreational spaces throughout the area.
Business Secretary: Gina Miller. Fearless and principled, she proved you can be successful in business and have a conscience. Big on the rule of law, too…
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary: David Olusoga – it’s high time we had someone genuinely cultured in the role, and he could steer us through the minefield of restitution and the future of museums.
Transport Secretary: Barbara Castle – bring her back! She introduced seatbelts, breathalysers and permanent speed limits, and I’ve no doubt she would relish the challenge of securing safe affordable transport consistent with environmental concerns.
Defence Secretary: Thomas Cromwell (the Hilary Mantel version). That charm and bonhomie, tempered with menace where necessary, would be harnessed to a brief to keep the peace and lean on, in the nicest possible way, the loose cannons on the global stage who threaten stability.
Look around this Cabinet table: they’re free from the taint of sleaze (with the exception of Thomas Cromwell, but, hey, he was pre-the Ministerial Code), experts – yes, Govey, experts – in their fields, fiercely intelligent, and with a habit of getting things done. Now look round the present Cabinet table and weep.
I’ve missed out some great people (sorry, Attlee and Maggie Aderin-Pocock, among others), and I’m aware I haven’t covered every single portfolio, so who would you nominate, and for which roles?