Reshuffle: Crabb and Cairns tipped for greater things

Bore da. How will we fill our time now the World Cup is over?

Reshuffle fever is staking an early claim, with David Cameron about to make wide-ranging changes to his cabinet.

If you believe today's Sun newspaper, Welsh Secretary David Jones is among the "old lags" about to make way for a younger, more female generation. (Mr Jones is, for the record, 61 and has been an MP for nine years). Certainly, some Wales Office insiders believe change is on the way.

If he is to be replaced, then his successor is likely to be his deputy Stephen Crabb, who is not a woman but is 20 years younger. If David Jones stays in post, expect Mr Crabb - who is also a government whip - to be promoted elsewhere, denying us a "sideways move for Crabb" headline.

Mr Crabb's (currently unpaid) role at the Wales Office is likely to be filled by Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns.

Mr Cairns, 43, expected to get his reward for consistently on-message performances in the House of Commons, has been a member of the No 10 policy board since last October.

The top cabinet jobs - chancellor, home secretary and foreign secretary - will remain in the same hands so why would that reluctant reshuffler David Cameron choose a third Welsh secretary inside two years? What has David Jones done wrong?

It is argued within government and party circles that as long as the Welsh secretary's job survives, a key element involves party management. Several spats with the leader of the Conservatives in the National Assembly for Wales, Andrew RT Davies, have not helped his cause, with senior No 10 staff having to resolve issues, although some MPs argue it takes two to fall out.

Mr Jones may be keen for the Welsh government to acquire tax-varying powers and use them to cut income tax but he has struggled to convince some Conservatives that he has softened his hostility to the assembly as an institution.

Any change at the Wales Office would be part of a wider reshuffle of Conservative ministers designed to freshen up the presentation of the Tory message for the general election next May. It's a campaign in which the secretary of state will play an important role within Wales.

Amid the reshuffle fever, ministerial life goes on. Mr Jones is hosting a reception for the Prince's Countryside Fund this evening and is due to give evidence tomorrow to MPs on the Welsh affairs committee on his ministerial responsibilities.