At last, what appears to have been something of a secret is now out. The new Minister for Disabled People is Penny Mordaunt. And she has peripheral skills which may come in useful, says Ian Macrae.
There are a number of interesting things to note about new Minister for Disabled People Penny Mordaunt. But the first notable thing relates to the post rather than the person.
When David Cameron appointed the unlamented Justin Tomlinson – was it really only in May 2015? It seems a lot longer – many people pointed out that the post had been downgraded from having been held by a Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to now being occupied by a Parliamentary Under Secretary.
The appointment of Ms Mordaunt now sees the original pay grade restored.
Not that her arrival in this tricky, often controversial area of responsibility was hailed with a blaze of trumpets. As recently as yesterday I was called by someone from BBC Radio 4’s morning news show Today who was heavily under the impression that no appointment to the post had been made.
The 43 year old MP for Portsmouth North has more in common with that city’s other newly revealed attraction the good ship Mary Rose than might be imagined. To start with she’s a Royal Naval reservist; but it’s also claimed that she was named after a Liander class Frigate, HMS Penelope.
Previous most recent government experience was as David Cameron’s Armed Forces Minister at Defence. But perhaps it was her late mother’s experience as a special needs teacher which provided credentials for her new ministerial office.
In the same way that many of us got rather excited about the fact that her predecessor had a fiver on himself becoming Prime Minister by 2038, my attention could not help being caught by the assertion in her Wikipedia entry that she served some time as a magician’s assistant. Let’s hope that her ability to create illusion is used to produce the sorts of rabbits out of hats which will benefit disabled people rather than ones designed to mask more sinister dealings.
Sadly, to judge from her voting record on benefits and other social security matters, she looks rather more like a practitioner of the darker arts than a bringer of light.