Last night on the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio 5 Live I heard a lovely interview with Ed Vaisey who, until Friday, was the only member of the government to have been in the same position since 2010. (Apparently the other three not to have changed role in government – Cameron, Osborn and May – left their respective positions two days earlier!)
Back to Ed Vaisey. Most people won’t have heard of Ed Vaisey. He gave a fascinating insight into the life of a minister up to and including his sacking in Friday. He was warm, funny, self-effacing and accepting of his fate. He said that just the main players tend to be known to the public and that the only time he was ever recognised was after appearing on a programme called the Wright Stuff on Channel 5. I don’t think we have seen the last of someone as talented as him.
Longevity in ministerial life, and in one position, led me to think about housing, and the high turnover of housing ministers. Yesterday Gavin Barwell was appointed as the new minister. He is the eleventh housing minister in the thirteen years since I became chief exec of Brighton Housing Trust, and the fourteenth since 1997.
The Conservatives have had five in six years:
- Grant Shapps June 2010 to September 2012
- Mark Prisk September 2012 to October 2013
- Kris Hopkins October 2013 to July 2014
- Brandon Lewis July 2014 to July 2016
- Gavin Barwell July 2016 to ?
Labour’s record is no better with nine in thirteen years with some not lasting even a year:
- Hilary Armstrong 1997 to 1999
- Nick Raynsford 1999 to 2001
- Lord Falconer 2001 to 2002
- Lord Rooker 2002 to 2003
- Keith Hill 2003 to 2005
- Yvette Cooper 2005 to January 2008
- Caroline Flint January 2008 to October 2008
- Margaret Beckett October 2008 to June 2009
- John Healey June 2009 to June 2010
With the housing crisis at its worst in living memory (rough sleeping alone has increased by 55% since 2010), wouldn’t it be something if a minister was appointed and told they would stay in the job until they had got the job done rather than housing being the stepping stone in someone’s fabulous (or not so fabulous) career?