The revolving door of NI ministers at Westminster spins once more

Local Conservative and Labour groups reacted to reshuffles in the NIO and shadow NI teams.

NI ministers of stateAt 17:01 NI Conservatives’ co-chair, Trevor Ringland issued a three paragraph statement to thank outgoing minister of state Mike Penning and welcome incoming Andrew Robathan.

Until we find out more about Andrew Robathan [Ed – Political Scrapbook website called him a “blue dinosaur”] it’ll be noted that he’s an ex-Coldstream Guard who also served with the SAS … replacing an ex- Grenadier Guard and ex-fireman who had an interest in the Coastguard. The new minister of state was also “former Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the All Party Cycling Group and Vice-Chairman of the All Party Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group”.

Trevor Ringland found time to comment on the Labour changes.

Unfortunately the Labour Party has been happy to abandon the people of Northern Ireland and refuses to stand candidates in elections here. The outgoing Shadow Secretary of State, Vernon Coaker MP, was prepared to criticise a party which is prepared to engage in politics here, without successfully challenging his own leader to change his policy. I wish his successor, Ivan Lewis, more success in offering something tangible to politics in Northern Ireland, by giving voters a centre-left, pro-Union option on the ballot paper. We look forward to debating the issues and showing that the centre-right offers a brighter future for all of our people.

At 17:43, Secretary of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland Boyd Black congratulated outgoing shadow NI Secretary of State Vernon Coaker on his new appointment as Shadow Defence Secretary and was more effusive than the Conservatives!

Vernon has been an outstanding SSoS NI and has shown enormous commitment and dedication to the people of Northern Ireland. During the time he has been here, the LPNI have counted him as one of our firmest friends – he has been a great support to us.

We congratulate his successor, Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, on his appointment, and look forward to an early meeting with him. No doubt he will continue Vernon’s strong record of keeping the Secretary of State for NI under appropriate scrutiny and keeping the Tory party on the hop.

Vernon Coaker was a regular visitor to conferences and events in Northern Ireland. His well-travelled successor Ivan Lewis is arriving just in time for the autumn conference season.

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  • sherdy

    A classic case or re-arranging the deck chairs on the Stormont Titanic.

  • I liked this observation about Andrew Robathan:

    One thing that most fellow MPs agreed on was that he sometimes struggles to present himself “in the best possible light”.

    and this on Ivan Lewis:

    Labour’s shadow culture secretary slams his party’s relationship with the Murdoch media empire, but will appear at a Sky-sponsored event this evening

    The latter does appear to be the more flexible of the two 😉

  • David Crookes

    Of course appointments like these never have anything to do with keeping certain sections of your own party content and obedient to the whips.

  • BluesJazz

    “Andrew Robathan is a stickler for discipline and rules. He is every bit the military man and has endured his fair share of coming under fire, from the frontline in the House of Commons to the Gulf War.

    The minister for defence personnel, welfare and veterans boasts an impressive CV of military experience. He studied at Sandhurst and Camberley before becoming an officer in the Coldstream Guards and the Special Air Service.”

    Which begs the question-why is he not SoS here in charge of direct rule?
    Hopefully the assembly will disintegrate and we have a natural leader in charge of the reservation.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Alan, can you have a private word with Sherdy and explain it has NOTHING what so ever to do with Stormont!!!

    As for the persons concerned, Croaker actually seemed to take a genuine interest in his role, and on several occasions appeared much more ministerial than the SoS herself. His replacement seems to be that increasing rare creature on the front benches, a Cllr who became MP for his home turf. With a strong Jewish background he could bring a different perspective?

    Penning is a blank to me, probably his replacement will be too. Only two junior minister I can remember carring much were Needham and Denton, I also don’t think babbling Brooke got enough credit for getting the talks started, but thats another story!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Brooke gets nothing like the credit he deserves.

    Neither of the two parties take this role seriously and it serves as something of a placeholder either for upwardly mobile types finding themselves in hot water and who need to get out of London for a while (such as Mandelson – or Villiers) or folks who are on the way to other things (John Reid, Owen Paterson etc).

  • OneNI

    The most intriguing thing about Robathan is surely his decision at the age of 40 to volunteer to go to the first Gulf War. How many of our politicos could you envisage doing something like that?

    Alan dont you find the traipsing around the local party conferences by Westminster big wigs ever so slightly patronising? i.e. ‘We dont regard you as politcal rivals because you count for next to nothing at Westminster so we are happy to condensend to come to your conferences and allow you to plead your circumstance about important issues’

    Woe betide that Ivan Lewis might actually want to come and look for support and votes – you know like a democrat?

  • OneNI – the local parties seem keen to include them – as if it’s a badge that proves they’re being listened to and can command an audience in NI with an English MP on a Saturday