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Welcome, Mark Prisk Matthew Warburton - 05/09/2012

Mark PriskCommentary on the Ministerial reshuffle has generally taken the view that the changes are more about presentation than policy.  Leaving the three top positions of Chancellor, Home and Foreign Secretary untouched seems to signal that no major change of direction is planned. 


Grant Shapps' promotion and Andrew Lansley's removal from Health have both been interpreted as being about communication skills - Shapps has them and Lansley does not, it would seem.  Government policy on the NHS will not change, but be better presented.  The only obvious chink in this argument is Justine Greening's move from Transport which seems intended - in Boris Johnson's view, at least - to clear the way for a change of tack on an extra runway at Heathrow.


However, as one or two perceptive commentators have written, there are good reasons to suppose that if David Cameron were planning a change of direction, he might not want to make it too sudden or too obvious. 


Publicly dropping deficit reduction in favour of Plan B would be tantamount to admitting that the Opposition has been right all along.  Better to use the reshuffle to signal that nothing has changed even if the planned £60 billion initiative to stimulate housing and infrastructure investment says otherwise.  The team has not changed much, but only time will tell how different - if at all - are the coalition's game plan and tactics during the second half of its term.


Enter Mark Prisk.  He does not come with a brief to rewrite housing policy, nor with any obvious axe to grind.  But he does arrive at a moment when the government is acutely interested in what housing can do to reboot the economy.  It is up to ARCH to show him how councils with housing can help, and what more we could do with a fair wind from government.

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