Fantasy Joinery 56

I should like to think that John Major’s attack is a sympton of the establishment washing its hands of Tony Blair, as the US extablishment once backed away from Joe McCarthy after worshipping him.

I hold the deeply unfashionable view that John Major was the best Prime Minister in my lifetime, out of a deeply depressing bunch. I was born in 1958.

Assuming you might find that thought surprising, I might surprise you further by my solution in a little fantasy game – compiling the best possible Cabinet from current parliamentarians.

Prime Minister Malcolm Rifkind

Deputy Prime Minister Andrew Mackinlay

Chancellor Kenneth Clarke

Foreign Secretary Charles Kennedy

Home Secretary Simon Hughes

Defence Secretary Jeremy Corbyn

Education Sarah Teather

Health Hilary Benn

DFID Baroness Chalker

Trade and Industry David Davis

Environment and Rural Affairs Alistair Carmichael

Lord Chancellor Lord Phillips of Sudbury

Transport and Communications Dai Davies

Chief Secretary John Redwood

Work and Pensions Vince Cable

Energy and Climate Change Alan Whitehead

That’s enough of a Cabinet to be going on with, and organised differently to the current and shadow ones. No, I’m not joking. Dai Davies’ key task would be to renationalise the mail and railways. You can guess my reasoning on the others, if you can stop spluttering.

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56 thoughts on “Fantasy Joinery

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  • Craig


    I think that over the last sixty years great progress had been made in developing the system of international law – a process much set back by Bush and Blair.

  • Polo

    Leaving the politics aside, one thing that impressed me about Major was his ability to handle a radio phone-in and show, or at least give the impression, that he was totally familiar with his brief. Combined with a willingness to admit ignorance of some detailed issues, this made for a very impressive performance.

    I may be naive in this regard, particularly knowing what we now do about the BBC, but I was impressed at the time. Reminded me of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Up front.

    I am inclined to do the “travelling companion” test on these people and Major would have certainly passed that.

  • Tony

    John Major was a good guy all round for sure. His strategy towards N. Ireland was wise.

    However…. What about the Edwina Currie episode?

    I am not expecting our politicians to be saints – but Edwina Currie? What was in John Major’s head? Or what was he smoking?

    Your Cabinet looks good except Rifkind worries me – too much of an all knowing headmaster at a minor public school. I would prefer Ken Clarke for the top job.

  • Tom Kennedy

    Unfortunately “politician” is now a disgraced profession and, with the exception of Craig, I would now harbour the same suspicions toward anyone running for office as society does toward a male wishing to teach primary school children.

  • Subrosa

    Craig, I wasn’t suggesting Rifkind has lost any of his marbles, but he has lost the fire he had when younger.

    I was always hopeful he would take a prominent role in Scottish politics, but once he lost his seat here, his interest appeared to wane. He would have been a tremendous asset to the tories here.

  • anno

    Hilary Benn is a politician’s politician.

    Will he spend his whole life saying nothing and towing the party line?

    Malcolm Rifkind didn’t find anything to say until Maggie was gone.

    John Redwood is a Conservative propaganda machine. David Davis likes playing parliamentary games.

    John Major had learned patience through physical pain and served his time.

    Yes, I agree, all made from solid wood, unlike the chipboard incumbents now.

  • MJ

    On leaving office Major took a a job with the Carlyle Group (armaments etc), principal shareholders the Bush and bin Laden families. Nice people to do business with.

  • glenn

    In the reference in the Guardian, we have Major saying:

    —start quote

    “I had myself been prime minister in the first Gulf war and I knew when I said something I was utterly certain that it was correct, and I said less than I knew.”

    —end quote

    Maybe his good friend George HW Bush had been less than frank with him, because the photographs of Iraqi tanks massing outside Saudi Arabia’s borders (which frightened the Saudis into granting US establishment of an airbase, using their airspace etc. to attack Iraq) was fake. The stories about Iraqi soldiers dumping premature babies out of incubators in Kuwait was fake (as tearfully told by the Kuwait ambassador’s daughter, pretending to be a nurse)… the lies and propaganda made the entire Gulf-War-1 atrocity another war under false pretenses – right down to Kuwait’s slant-drilling into Iraq, and April Gillespie telling S. Hussein that “We take no position on border disputes”, when SH asked America for permission to invade Kuwait.

    If Major didn’t know anything about that, or see anything dodgy about the premise for war, then perhaps he was not a good person to have been in charge of the country. A fellow Carlyle Group member is HW Bush. I wonder if that ever came up when they met.

    Then again, the Carlyle Group has made plenty of money for Major. He is a partner in the group, not just a member, together with George Soros. Soros had made a fortune betting against Major (before either joined). I wonder if that caused friction during board meetings – Soros joined Carlyle one year after ‘Black Wednesday’. Major joined in 1997. Forgive and forget, eh?

    Major’s “over-riding objective” was to restore confidence in the pound – Soros put a $10 billion bet against it (which was a lot of money back then), and that largely helped in bringing the UK economy to its knees, and cost us many billions of pounds. Being partners with HW Bush in what transpired (if not known at the time) to be a war based on untruths, hundreds of thousands, perhaps over a million killed, and the man that helped ruin the UK economy. That’s just two of Major’s new partners, and he has no problem.

    Major accompanied HW Bush on trips to Saudi Arabia, seeing the bin Laden family, and has represented the military industrial complex ever since.

    I’m pushed to see how Major – incompetent, probably corrupt, and deceitful – can possibly be seen as the best PM in recent decades. Chamberlain is of course every war-monger’s favourite whipping-boy. Can Wilson truly be called ‘devious’ given what he was up against? Was Callaghan incompetent, when the IMF caused a run on the pound, and unions slammed a brake on the economy?

    It’s a tough choice, but Major would have come a long way from the top of my list for best PM. Cozy, affable, sure… but a war-profiteer with a lot of blood on his hands nonetheless, not least because of the free use of depleted uranium and a medieval siege against Iraq in the form of ‘sanctions’.

  • Craig


    Who would be your best PM since 1958 then? Harold Wilson was close to Israel, to say he least. Callaghan was a reactionary old git

  • Craig


    I thought very seriously about women and ethnic minorities. problem is, confining myself to Parliament for the purposes of the exercise, they are all pretty crap.

  • mary

    The more I look at that list (and any comments thereon would be libellous) I think it was an early April 1st joke.

  • glenn

    Craig wrote:

    —start quote


    Who would be your best PM since 1958 then? Harold Wilson was close to Israel, to say he least. Callaghan was a reactionary old git

    —end quote

    That’s a tough one. Macmillan perhaps? I’d have preferred the job of answering which PM had been the worst, even though any candidate would be up against some pretty stiff competition!

  • Chris Dooley

    Craig, from your list I admire Kenneth Clarke and Vince Cable. I’d put Claire Short in as Foreign Secretary as a reward for resigning over the issues you presented her.

    The problem with trying to compile a list like this for the majority, is that not many people hear about their MP’s unless they are one of the ‘big hitters’.

    I think I would admire Hilary Benn, but alas I know little of what he does, or how well he does it.

  • Vronsky

    OK Craig, you confined your selection to currently serving (serving themselves most generously, that is) parliamentarians. What would your list be if you didn’t?

    Here’s my dream team. It assumes that I can work around some problems of nationality, and resurrect the dead:

    Prime Minister: Me (don’t trust any other bastard)

    Deputy Prime Minister: My girlfriend (necessary balance, agrees with me on nothing)

    Chancellor: Herman E Daly

    Foreign Secretary: You

    Home Secretary: Alex Salmond

    Defence Secretary: Colin Campbell, late of the SNP who was entrusted with defining the party’s defence policy and more or less gave up, pronouncing the whole defence thing ‘too ugly’.

    Education: My sister, a retired teacher

    Health: Hippocrates. The ideal has become somewhat corrupted since his time.

    DFID: Maybe you again

    Trade and Industry: Karl Marx

    Environment and Rural Affairs: Andy Rowell

    Lord Chancellor: Post eliminated

    Transport and Communications: William Cobbett

    Chief Secretary: Post eliminated

    Work and Pensions: The Big Issue seller who stands outside our local Aldi’s

    Energy and Climate Change: Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero

    Google any names you don’t know.

  • Winston Smith

    Not sure why anyone still thinks politicians can do as they please. It doesn’t matter who you elect. They still have to do as they’re told on the big issues.

    Even Obamerama must do as he’s told.

    Just look at how they’re all jumping on the knickers bomber and planning attacks on Yemen. The central orchestration would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

    The only thing that changes is the manner of their following the leader.

    For really disgusting, just listen to Louise Ellman.

    Wilson and Vietnam was a whole other world away.

    The good guys lost…

  • Gordon Bennet

    “the lies and propaganda made the entire Gulf-War-1 atrocity another war under false pretenses ”

    And Iraq never attacked Kuwait. And Germany was defending itself against Polish aggression in 1939.


  • Gordon Bennet

    “I think I would admire Hilary Benn, but alas I know little of what he does, or how well he does it.”

    He proved himself a disgusting Stalinist when he was running Ealing council.

    Short and Clarke … reach for the brown bag.

  • MJ

    “Germany was defending itself against Polish aggression in 1939”

    Interestingly, that was indeed the claim at the time, as stated by the Nazi leadership and obediently repeated by the media. Jewish-Communist terrorists congregating on the border. Just goes to show: the remotest period of history is the recent past. A lesson for us all perhaps.

  • ingo

    So you would appreciate a quiet PM, would you?

    In no way would I agree with your gender imbalance and I am also missing your ‘heart throb’ Claire Short in the line up.

    As much as I would liek to see a grand coalition of minds, not a reag tag dog-matic party lording it over all others, I regard this thread a bit like a dream wish list never to be of any value.

    I like to see a decentralisation of politics and power, away from mallable single people who can be nobbled at every corner on the way.

    What are the realities we are presented with today? and

    Do we want more of the same? If we do, lets bare our backsides for some more stars and stripes, please sir, can we have some more….

  • glenn

    Gordon Bennet: You quote 1/4 of a sentence, and call me an idiot, because I say our (sorry, the British) action in the first Gulf War was based on lies? I did not claim that Iraq did not invade Kuwait. You lied there. Why can’t you get by without lying with every statement you make?

  • mary

    It’s a bit late for Rifkind to say this 14 years later.

    ‘Conservative MP Malcolm Rifkind, who was defence secretary at the time of the crash, said the documents obtained by the BBC added to the “growing, and almost unanswerable, amount of evidence that the finding of gross negligence against these two pilots was unsafe”.

    He said the Ministry of Defence had failed to inform ministers of software problems and criticised the RAF inquiry.

    “Their finding of gross negligence is not because there was hard evidence of gross negligence – it was because they had ruled out everything else,” he said.

    He added that it was “bureaucratic stubbornness” stopping the Ministry of Defence from reconsidering the matter.’


    I listened to the anguish of the father of one of the pilots on Radio 4 Today this morning. His grief is evident at the cover up that took place at the enquiry. I hope that his son’s name and that of the other pilot will be cleared.

    This is yet another example of the deceit that exists in the rotten system of government that we have in the UK. The report on Radio 4 said that the HoC and HoL had both criticized the findings of the enquiry. Why was nothing done to re-open the enquiry and tell the truth that the faulty software was to blame?

  • doug scorgie


    The two cabinet posts that matter the most in today’s world affairs are the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. Neither of your choices have the courage or political direction to do anything but tow the establishment line. We need people who are active today and engaged in taking on the ‘powers that be’. We need people that are knowledgeable and not afraid of exposing establishment and media lies; which are used to stir-up (or placate) the public about certain issues; people who will get the truth out whether it offends the powerful or not.

    Prime Minister: Jeremy Corbyn.

    Foreign Secretary: George Galloway.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Kenneth Clarke? Mr. British American Tobacco Directorship, PFI and rail privatisation (with public subsidies). Don’t understand that one – he’s good at appearing honest and reasonable and middle-of-the-road, but appearances are one thing, his policies are another.

    Hilary Benn voted for the Iraq war and couldn’t be more different from his father. So that one’s difficult to understand too.

    John Redwood is amazingly right wing.

    The rest are either excellent (e.g Corbyn, Hughes) or ok (e.g David Davis is honest enough even if i disagree with his Thatcherism) or i’ve never heard of them.

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