Business minister Michael Fallon has been announced as the new minister for Portsmouth, prompting calls from other towns and regions across the UK for their own dedicated member of the government.
Fallon’s role will see him visit the area and work to lessen the impact of a recent decision by BAE Systems to close a Navy ship yard there, with the loss of around 1000 jobs. Of course the decision has nothing to do with Portsmouth being a marginal constituency for the Conservatives, who are already plotting their election strategy ahead of 2015.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman, who was quizzed hard by journalists over the announcement, said “particular circumstances” had prompted the decision. And Penny Mourdant, the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, took to Twitter to voice her support for the move, telling City A.M. she was “very pleased,” adding: “This is one of the things we asked for after the BAE announcement.”
This isn’t the first time a minister has been appointed to a specific region. In 1981 Michael Heseltine was appointed by Margaret Thatcher to lead an urban regeneration project in Liverpool, in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots. Heseltine did such a good job that he was eventually awarded the freedom of the city, in recognition of his efforts.
Perhaps David Cameron is hoping Fallon may prove similarly popular in his new ministerial patch.