UK Politics

Ministers and marginals

As coalition ministers travel across the country to launch the next stage of local growth funds, is there anything significant in the locations of their visits?

Image copyright @CommunitiesUK/@cabinetofficeuk

These ministers are not campaigning; they are making official announcements.

The Cabinet Office reveals 21 in total have left Whitehall in a single day to tell voters about £1bn of government money being spent around England.


With an election looming

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As they are promoting government policy the visits are funded - at least in part - by the taxpayer.

But, 98 days before the election, plenty of them are taking place either in or close to marginal constituencies that will be crucial come polling day.

We've analysed the locations - for full details see the table at the bottom of this page.


It has given government MPs some good news to share with their constituents.

Jackie Doyle-Price, the Conservative with one of the smallest majorities in the country - just 92, was pleased to see chief whip Michael Gove on her patch.

Image copyright @JackieDP

I have even been leaked the draft press release Conservative candidates can use to announce today's news to their local papers:

Image copyright Anonymous

Lib Dem environment, food and rural affairs minister Dan Rogerson, majority 2,981, attended an event in his own constituency, and one in a neighbouring Lib Dem marginal.


A 'revolution' for spending

Just in case voters miss the point, the government's got its own map showing where the money will be spent:

Image copyright Cabinet Office

The government says these local growth deals amount to a "revolution" in the way the economy is run - putting infrastructure and housing funding in the hands of local councils and businesses, not Westminster .


On official business

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Ministers can use their cars for official business. If a visit includes party political engagements the cost has to be shared between the government and their party.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "These visits are not at all about campaigning. They're about going and meeting Local Enterprise Partnerships on the day they've agreed a billion pounds of deals with the government."


Getting out of Westminster

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Of course, governments have to communicate. If ministers stay in Westminster they get criticised for not getting out more.

Eric Pickles' team point out he shared an event with the elected Labour mayor of Leicester. But official announcements do provide handy opportunities to announce good news in important areas.


Who's gone where?

Minister Position Party Constituency Politics
Tom Brake Deputy leader of the Commons Lib Dem Camden Exact location not provided
Vince Cable Business secretary Lib Dem Manchester Central Close to Manchester Withington, tight Lib Dem-held marginal
David Cameron Prime minister Conservative Exeter, Camborne & Redruth Lab/Cons marginal, Cons/Lib Dem marginal
Nick Clegg Deputy prime minister Lib Dem Bristol West, North Swindon, Bournemouth West, Yeovil Bristol West and Yeovil key Lib Dem seats
Michael Gove Chief whip Conservative Thurrock Cons/Labour very tight marginal, UKIP challenging
Justine Greening International development secretary Conservative Warley Large Labour majority, adjoins Lab/Cons marginal Birmingham Edgbaston
Matt Hancock Business minister Conservative Welwyn Hatfield Seat of Tory chairman, St Albans next door Cons/Lib Dem marginal
Sajid Javid Culture secretary Conservative Telford Lab/Cons marginal
Brandon Lewis Communities and local government minister Conservative Wansbeck Large Labour majority, adjoins Lib/Cons marginal Berwick Upon Tweed
Oliver Letwin Policy minister Conservative Nuneaton Cons/Lab marginal
Patrick McLoughlin Transport secretary Conservative Gloucester Cons/Lab marginal
Esther McVey Work and pensions minister Conservative Preston Large Labour majority
Penny Mordaunt Communities and local government minister Conservative Crawley Cons gain from Labour in 2010
Lord Newby Whip Lib Dem Yorkshire Exact location not provided
George Osborne Chancellor Conservative Southampton Test Next door to Southampton Itchen - Lab/Cons marginal
Eric Pickles Communities secretary Conservative Leicester South Large Labour majority
Dan Rogerson Environment minister Lib Dem Cornwall North and St Austell & Newquay Newquay tight Cons/Lib Dem Marginal
Grant Shapps Conservative Party chairman Conservative Oxford West and Abingdon Cons/Lib Dem marginal
Iain Duncan Smith Work and pensions secretary Conservative Huddersfield Large Labour majority, adjoins Dewsbury Cons/Lab marginal
Liz Truss Environment secretary Conservative Daventry Large Cons majority, adjoins Northampton North, Con/Lab marginal
Stephen Williams Communities and local government minister Lib Dem Bedford Cons/Labour marginal

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