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Tinker, tailor, soldier, Osborne - a.k.a: George Smiley's reshuffle

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2011-10-15 at 15.01.04In Tomas Alfredson's new film of the John Le Carre novel, Gary's Oldman's George Smiley begins his on-screen presence by saying nothing at all.  He ends it by marching triumphantly into the top room of the Secret Intelligence Service to take control.  George Osborne is unlike Smiley in character but similair in method: he has already been compared to a submarine, coming up for air when it suits his purposes...and lurking in the depths when it doesn't.  He surfaced earlier this week for Liam Fox's Commons statement before dropping back into the Treasury - but has apparently been counselling Fox from the ocean floor.

Justine Greening voted for the former Defence Secretary in 2005, but was brought into Osborne's team in Opposition.  Greg Hands has been an unrelentingly energetic Parliamentary Private Secretary, and is an extremely effective operator.  Now Greening is in the Cabinet as Transport Secretary and Hands is in the Whips Office, where he ought to do well.  And Sajid Javid, one of the very few MPs who can get pieces in the Times, becomes the Chancellor's PPS (which means that John Hayes loses him).  All this is another discreet push, another small advancement, by "the man who would be King".

It's a manoevre that Smiley would have been proud of.  Tim was on to something when he described Cameron as the public face of Osborne's government.


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