Fourth Justice Secretary in two years
It was yesterday tea-time (11 June 2017) before we learnt that, after less than 11 months as Justice Secretary Liz Truss had been moved to be Secretary to the Treasury (generally regarded as a demotion) and been replaced by David Lidington.
These biographical details are taken from Mr Lidington’s website:
Before elected to the House of Commons, David took a degree in history and then a doctorate in Elizabethan history at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He then worked for a time industry for BP and for Rio Tinto.
While an MP, David has held a number of different responsibilities. He served on the education select committee during his first parliamentary term. During the Labour governments of 1997-2010, he worked as parliamentary private secretary to William Hague, the then Leader of the Opposition, and then was Opposition Spokesman successively on home affairs, treasury matters, environment and agriculture, Northern Ireland and the Middle East.
Under David Cameron’s Government he was Minister for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibility for British policy towards the entire continent of Europe from Russia and Turkey to Iceland and Greenland. David has represented the United Kingdom at the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, the Council of Europe, NATO and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). His ministerial work took him to 45 countries on behalf of the British Government.
David has lived in Princes Risborough for more than 25 years. He is married to Helen, a local primary school teacher, and they have four grown up sons, all born in Stoke Mandeville hospital.
While an MP, David successfully piloted through parliament the Chiropractors Act 1994 which placed chiropractic on a professional, self-regulated basis for the first time.
While at university, David captained the Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University Challenge team which won the championship in 1979. In 2002, to mark the 40th anniversary of the show, previous winning teams were invited back for a Champion of Champions tournament which the Sidney Sussex team again won. So David has the rare claim of having captained a championship University Challenge team twice.
Oddly he does not mention that he was appointed by Theresa May to be Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons in July 2016. He deputised for Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions on one occasion.
Mr Lidington was an adviser to Douglas Hurd when he was Home Secretary in the late 1980s (when prisons came under the Home Office) and served as shadow Home Affairs Spokesperson in the 1990s. He was also Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Michael Howard QC MP, 1994 to 1997 before becoming Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon William Hague MP, June 1997.
He seems to have much less recent interest or experience in criminal justice matters with the exception of HM YOI Aylesbury which is in his constituency where he has a majority of 14,696 after last week’s vote, with Labour in second place.
His main campaigning activity appears to be against the highspeed rail link HS2.
I have no pretensions to being a political commentator but it seems clear that Mr Lidington is an experienced junior minister who is regarded as competent and a safe pair of hands. This is his most senior appointment in his 25 years as the MP for Aylesbury. More informed views include:
For what it’s worth, I remember David Lidington as Douglas Hurd’s SpAd in 1987. He was very good. Liz Truss was 12 at the time.
— Joshua Rozenberg (@JoshuaRozenberg) June 11, 2017
David Lidington, new Justice Secretary. Some positive noises about international human rights but voted for repeal of Human Rights Act pic.twitter.com/Go3tbX2jat
— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) June 11, 2017
It could be said of Mr Lidington’s three most recent predecessors:
Chris Grayling was a hard-liner and revolutionary
Michael Gove was a reformer
Liz Truss was a managerialist
We must wait and see how to describe the new Justice Secretary.
In the meantime, we must look for clues from his Twitter account @dlidington
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