by Ray Fleming

Earlier this week in this space I said I thought that David Cameron had been quite clever in some aspects of his handling of the ministerial reshuffle.

Perhaps I was being too kind because there soon followed any number of stories about resentful rejects and, in one case, an allegation that Mr Cameron was “sipping wine” while telling one minister why her services were no longer required. This led to a headline in The Times referring to the “cabernet” reshuffle! More seriously, it has been suggested that the education minister Michael Gove is angry at having to accept the senior Liberal Democrat David Laws into his ministerial team which he has spent two years shaping to his rather special policy needs. Such things happen after almost every reshuffle of ministers but a feature of Mr Cameron's this week has been the obstinancy of some ministers in refusing to move and of others making known their dissatisfaction publicly which has shown the prime minister in a poor light.

Unfortunately he has not helped matters by offering knighthoods to four enforced departures -- Edward Gardiner, Nick Harvey, Gerald Howarth and James Paice -- none of whom is a household name exactly and all of whom were presumably not up to their jobs. Why should they have been given this high honour for failure? It looks like another example of Mr Cameron's weakness.