The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

The Love/Hate Lord: Andrew Adonis

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 18, 2009 @ 09:28

The man in action...

If there’s one member of Brown’s Cabinet who has really impressed me, it’s the Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew, Lord Adonis.

This has come as something as a surprise to me, largely because in his previous incarnation as a minister of state at Education, he was the man almost wholly responsible for the kind of problems in the education system I’ve moaned about before, including yesterday; Adonis was the key architect behind the academy school system.

But even then, there was something I had to respect about the man. I’ve read a few articles in my time about him, and all of them have said the same thing. His energy is limitless, his passion is boundless and his commitment to the cause is unquestionable.

One particular article I read noted that Adonis keeps in frequent contact with all the academies across the country. He leaves his number with the headteachers, and encourages them to call him if there is anything he can do to help. They often do, and they’re all on first-name terms, such is the nature of their working relationships. This was a time when Blair was Prime Minister, and Adonis was one of his number one confidants. How fortunate for these establishments to essentially have a direct line into the PM’s ear.

But that was then. When Brown became PM in 2007, it was almost a given that Brown would sack Adonis. It was long thought that the two despised each other. In yet another example of the Labour left pinning all their wildest hopes and dreams on Brown, they all thought he didn’t approve of academy schools. Of course, it was yet another case of the blind love of Labour MPs, failing to understand that Brown and Blair were, in George Galloway’s immortal turn of phrase, “two cheeks of the same backside”.

Brown kept Adonis in the education job, and the policy remained unchanged.

Then, apparently securing his legacy with the backing of Ed Balls, Adonis made a rather shock move into the Department of Transport as a junior minister. A year later, Brown promoted Adonis to Secretary of State. A sign, perhaps, of the paucity of talent in the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

But, to give the man his due, he has turned his attention to his new task with impressive resolve. He has nationalised the East Coast Main Line. He has ensured that the train companies didn’t wriggle out of their obligation to reduce fares due to negative inflation on the RPI. He has strongly defended the progress made in improving the railways. He looks likely to announce a major investment in a new high speed rail line.

What has made me so intrigued about him though is his approach to media and messaging. He hasn’t been afraid to get out from behind his desk in Whitehall and experience the effects of the legislation and regulation his department presides over: including his five day rail trip across the country, and yesterday’s jaunt to the “10 worst stations” in England. It’s almost like, now he’s the boss of his own department, he has been freed to emerge from the shadows.

He is clearly a talented and capable minister, unlike great swathes of the Cabinet. In truth, the nation should really expect no less. Ministers should either be competent at their job, or be sacked.

Sadly, the fag-end of this Labour government has taught us to have extraordinarily low expectations about the Cabinet.

It’s little wonder then that Adonis shines out as a a beacon of excellence within a den of ineptitude.

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