In contrast to her predecessor Helen Grant, who was unable to name either England’s rugby captain or the FA Cup holders, the new minister for sport does at least know something about her new brief.
Tracey Crouch is a sports devotee and qualified FA coach who has managed a girls’ football team in Kent for almost a decade.
Even in her ministerial post, however, she will find her powers limited. Crouch formerly played for Westminster’s parliamentary football team, which includes such sporting luminaries as Andy Burnham and (until recently) Jim Murphy, but the team’s registration with the FA in 2011 meant she was barred from playing, owing to Fifa’s rules barring mixed teams with players over the age of 11. (“It is ridiculous, and yes, it does annoy me,” she has said.)
Crouch is not the only new minister named on Tuesday who can claim some expertise relating to their role. Ros Altmann, who will become a Tory peer to allow her to take up the job of pensions minister, is a longstanding campaigner on pensions (and a former adviser to Tony Blair) whom Cameron has described as “the country’s leading expert on pensions, on savings, on financial education”.
The newly appointed armed forces minister, Penny Mordaunt, can also claim a certain qualification for her role, as she is a naval reservist and the daughter of a paratrooper, and was named after a navy frigate.
The expertise of the new junior ministers only goes so far, however. The news that Jo Johnson, who headed the No 10 policy unit in the last parliament and is the younger brother of Boris, had been made science minister was met with surprise by his father, Stanley. “Good heavens! I don’t think he knows a thing about science,” Johnson Sr told a radio interviewer.
Happily, like his brother, Johnson Jr had an expensive education – so how had he done in science at Eton? “You’ve got me completely kippered there!” said his father. He reassured listeners, however, that with a double first (in history) from Oxford, the new minister “definitely knows his onions”.
Ben Gummer’s background as a historian might just help in his new role as a junior health minister – he is an expert on the Black Death – and as the son of the former environment minister John (now Lord) Gummer he might be expected to know more about avoiding disease than many. It was his sister Cordelia who was fed a burger by her father in 1990 to prove the beef was safe from BSE.
One new appointee to watch is Justin Tomlinson, who becomes minister for disabled people. Hereportedly bet £50 at odds of 10,000-1 when he was at university that he would be prime minister by 2038.
This article was written by Esther Addley, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 12th May 2015 18.14 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010