PM still in driver’s seat with less workload
Prime Minister David Thompson’s statement was significant for several reasons, not least of which was the fact that this was the first time that he was addressing the country in several months; and it could be argued that the tone of this message is more definitive than his previous pre-departure message that left considerable doubts, certainly about his health and his intentions regarding the governance of the country’s affairs.
One gets the sense that the Prime Minister has placed his health in the hands of the Lord and assures us of his intention to battle his illness and to continue serving as Prime Minister.
The Cabinet changes that were announced in the same address should therefore be viewed against the background of Thompson’s intention to continue in office while reducing his day-to-day workload and attempting to stimulate greater confidence in his Government’s ability to lead in this crisis.
The identification of former Minister of Social Care Christopher Sinckler as the new Minister of Finance, with responsibility for both Finance and Economic Affairs, would be the most significant change from the perspective of both form and substance.
In the Westminster tradition it is not uncommon for the Minister of Finance to be seen as the “heir apparent”.
Substantively, it is also significant that Thompson has amalgamated the previously unconnected components of this ministry, namely Economic Affairs and Finance, under one considerably more powerful minister.
Having shifted Minister Sinckler, the Prime Minister’s other changes appear to be inclined towards filling the void created and it is interesting that Thompson has handed Minister Steve Blackett the substantive ministry held by Sinckler, but removed the Urban and Rural departments to a refashioned Ministry of Housing and Lands under the control of Minister Lashley, who the Prime Minister appears to have considerable confidence in.
The shift of Dr Estwick also deserves comment since he has been reassigned for the third time during this parliamentary term and this time moved away from economics altogether.
One can put a political spin on this shift and suggest that the PM is passing judgement on Estwick’s performance in this economic capacity.
Alternatively, one can see this as a logical move which attempts to give Sinckler a free hand to influence our economic development, while moving Estwick to a ministry which does similar economic work, but would not interfere with the central mission of either Finance or Economic Affairs.