It may not be headline news, but the changes made by Sir Vince Cable have significance for several reasons.
On Thursday, party leader Vince Cable announced the make-up of his new team.
Sir Vince said:
“The team includes notable strength in depth on the economy, foreign affairs and local government at a time when the impact of Brexit, social inequality and lack of investment is fostering tensions in these areas.”
1. A female majority
When it comes to representation of women, the Liberal Democrats have not had the greatest of histories. At the 2015 general election, all eight of the party’s elected MPs were men. However, the Richmond by-election of 2016, won by Sarah Olney, ensured a female voice for the party in the Commons. Since then, the party has made some key steps towards better female representation. The return of Jo Swinson and the election of three other female Liberal Democrat MPs (Christine Jardine, Layla Moran and Wera Hobhouse) mean that four of the party’s twelve MPs are women. Vince Cable called his new team “gender balanced”, but a quick counts indicates that it actually has a female majority (16/29).
2. Menzies Campbell is back
The former Liberal Democrat leader, now member of the House of Lords, has returned to the party’s front-bench, this time as its defence spokesperson. The party is certainly making good use of its experienced leaders.
3. Tim Farron
The former leader, who stood down following the 2017 general election, has a new job in the party. He is now the party’s Spokesperson on Food and Rural Affairs and the North of England. As the party’s only northern MP, it’s no surprise that he was given this role.
4. Lords and Baronesses
Due to the Liberal Democrats limited presence in the House of Commons, a significant number of members of the party’s front-bench team are from the House of Lords. There are currently 100 Liberal Democrat peers.
Cable’s new team has no fewer than three baronesses and five lords.
5. The party’s Spokesperson for Young People
Not much has been made in the national media about Cable’s reshuffle, except for this change. Lord Storey, aged 68, has been made the party’s Spokesperson for Young People.
Speaking to the BBC, the peer said:
"I don't think we should be ageist. I have a daughter who is at university, I was a head teacher of two schools for 20 years, so I know young people inside out."
6 Where is Norman Lamb?
The one time leadership contender and former coalition minister Norman Lamb is the only MP not to have a front-bench role.