Utility Week

UTILITY Week 15th May 2015

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6 | 15TH - 21ST MAY 2015 | UTILITY WEEK Lobby Election / Party conferences P olling day ended to the sound of jaws being clamped shut following what was an unbelievable exit poll showing the Conservatives on course to be the largest party with more than 300 seats, and agonis- ingly close to a majority. Within 24 hours, Cameron secured the first Tory majority since 1992, and the lead- ers of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, and Ukip (temporarily) had all tendered their resignations. Once the shock and surprise of winning a, small, 12-seat majority has passed, the prime minister started to name his first all- Conservative cabinet. Cameron has leant towards continuity, rewarding the team that helped him secure that much sought aer election victory. At the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc), the hole le by the former Lib Dem energy secretary – and former MP – Ed Davey has been filled by Amber Rudd, the climate change minister under the coalition. Rudd's appointment has been widely welcomed. She is seen as a moderate and a Blue is the colour With election victory, David Cameron is able to select the first exclusively Conservative cabinet for nearly 20 years. Mathew Beech examines his choices. known supporter of climate change science – not something that can be said of all mem- bers of the government's backbench. She has voiced her disquiet with large- scale solar farms – "they are not particularly welcome" – but supports wind, recognising it as "an important part of the energy mix". Her Conservative partner, when under the leadership of the now departed Davey, Mat- thew Hancock, was another who was said to be in the frame for the job. But he has le 3 Whitehall Place and gone to the Cabinet Office. His replacement, and the seventh energy minister in as many years (see box, opposite) is Andrea Leadsom. The South Northamp- tonshire MP previously worked as the eco- nomic secretary to the treasury. This helps to further cement the links between Decc and the Treasury, as Rudd previously worked as parliamentary private secretary to chancellor George Osborne between 2012 and 2013. Scott Flavell, head of energy and utilities at consultancy firm Sia Partners, tells Util- ity Week the close links will help to smooth Filling in the blanks On the opposition benches, acting Labour leader Harriet Harman announced her shadow cabinet, although this was more filling in the blanks cre- ated by incumbents such as Ed Balls losing their seats. It was very much a case of steady as she goes, with both Caroline Flint and Maria Eagle remaining as the shadow energy secretary and shadow environment secretary, respectively, at least until the new leader is appointed. David Cameron's joy, and surprise, at securing the first Conservative majority sine 1992 was obvious. However, having such a slender majority (just 12 seats) means Cam- eron may find it difficult to control the Commons and set the political agenda for the next five years – as history tells us. John Major (Conserva- tive) 9 April 1992: 21 seat majority John Major, boosted by the turnout of shy Tories and advised by a young David Cameron, took his party to an unexpected 21-seat majority in 1992. The lingering recession, internal feuding and backbench rebel- lions within the party over Europe resulted in Conservative MPs defecting and being voted out in by-elections. By the time of the 1997 election, Major had seen his majority whittled away and fought the election leading a minority government. Harold Wilson (Labour) 15 October 1964: 4 seat majority Harold Wilson led Labour to election victory in 1964, winning 317 seats and with it a four-seat majority in the House of Commons. However, the tiny margin over the Conservatives and the Liberals meant that Wilson was unable to implement the party policy of nationalising the steel industry, with backbenchers Woodrow Wyatt and Desmond Donnelly opposing the plan. A snap election in 31 March 1966 was the result of the unworkably small majority, and resulted in Wilson and Labour gaining a much larger majority of 96. Lessons from history

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