From Fallon to Williamson in 10 steps

Movement within parliamentary positions happens more than you might think – and it is definitely more important than a lot of people think it is.

Politics can get a bit confusing and uninteresting – people often assume that it doesn’t really matter who holds what position, as long as they belong to the right party – whatever the right party might be for them. This latest change is actually more important than most news websites are presenting it as….so I don’t take up too much of your time, here are 10 things that you should be aware of:

ONE – Sir Michael Fallon

The former Defence Secretary unexpectedly resigned after serious allegations were made against him, suggesting he was guilty of sexual assault. Speaking about his conduct, Sir Michael said that he had fallen short of British Army standards.

TWO – Not just Sir Michael Fallon

This is not the first instance of such accusations of sexual abuse within Parliament, and Sir Michael Fallon is by far the only one to be accused. He is the first to react to the claims, however.

THREE – What did T. May think?

Theresa May was all compliments for her former conservative fellow (as you would be if someone willingly resigned I suppose), praising him for his attitude towards the situation and his long time in office – serving under four prime ministers.

FOUR – What’s the protocol?

So what happens next? Well, Theresa May had to fill the position pretty pronto – we don’t live in the kind of climate where you want to be without a Defence Secretary for too long…she had many options, including promoting those already in the Ministry of Defence. Instead, she promoted her Chief Whip – Gavin Williamson.

FIVE – Who?

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of Mr Williamson – as far as public exposure goes, he hasn’t had much. He was elected into parliament in 2010 and made chief whip in 2016, playing a key role in the negotiations with the DUP after the election. He is probably most well known, however, for keeping a tarantula on his desk in his office.

SIX – Is he the right guy for the job? 

Well, this is probably quite a subjective issue, but if we’re being objective….qualification-wise, Williamson might not seem the obvious choice. He has no military experience and has spent no time working for the MoD, or any other government department before – which might seem a bit risky for the Defence Secretary. However, he is young (well, 41 – he’s young for parliament), and what you might call an ‘up-and-comer’, known in parliament (apparently) for being enthusiastic and full of energy, and he served T. May well in the whole Tories-about-to-fall-over-the-edge-of-a-cliff situation.

SEVEN – What’s next for Gavin?

After all the research I’ve done on him, I fell like we’re on first-name terms already. Gavin is not exactly inheriting an easy job – just some of the problems he needs to negotiate include: the plan for so-called Islamic State, the MoD budget, RAF airstrikes and defence cuts. Talk about a baptism of fire.

EIGHT – Why is this good?

Being chief whip isn’t easy, and being in this position will have taught Mr Williamson that popularity is not his number one concern – his knowledge of government administration and involvement in bringing back the Conservatives from the brink of a minority-government death is sure to be a positive bank of experience. Also, the fact that he is a different generation to most of the rest of parliament is more important than it might seem, as it should mean a bit of a change up and some new ideas.

NINE – Why is this bad?

Stepping away from Gavin for a moment, it’s important to think back to why this has happened. We have Gavin because Michael resigned. And why did Michael resign? Because huge claims of sexual abuse have been made in parliament – that’s bad. It is unclear at the moment whether Sir Michael will be the first of a dominoe effect and more people will leave – but in the present terrorist-ridden-Brexit-addled climate we don’t want too many changes in leadership.

TEN – What next?

People are going to be keeping quite a close eye on poor Gavin, so the pressure is pretty intense. But for us lower mortals who don’t hold a position in government, it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, he makes to the way the MoD protect out country, and by extension each one of us. This could also mark an important turning point in Prime Minister May’s leadership – if he proves to be yet another bad decision, it could be the start of the end. But if he does well and gains the approval of his fellow members of the Tory party, he could be T. May’s saving grace. Watch this space….

Now – that wasn’t too difficult, was it? 10 Easy Steps – a phrase that is probably already far behind our new Defence Secretary…

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