A cabinet of all the talents

Our regular feature provides an opportunity to pick a ‘dream cabinet’, composed of any living person in the world. For this issue, Marina Hyde holds the keys to No 10.

Chancellor of the Exchequer
Anne Robinson

Brilliant at making money, hilarious at talking about money, and famously generous with money. Plus she’s a weapons-grade gossip and I demand that in a close working relationship.

Foreign Secretary
Sir Patrick Stewart

First choice would be the cryogenically reanimated David Niven – but if that’s not allowed, then Sir Patrick Stewart. He was a diplomatic master in what amounted to this role on the USS Enterprise. Clearly, there’d be a bit of friction between him and Steven Seagal at Defence (see below), but ultimately they’d get thrown together in a buddy cop plotline with a side order of world affairs, and Britain would end up the winner.

Home Secretary
Serena Williams

They often say you need a ruthless enforcer in this role, but Serena would also be majestic at the annual set pieces. Can you picture that stare reducing the Police Federation boo-boys to silence? Yes you can – and what’s more, you want to see it.

Secretary of State for Defence
Steven Seagal

Those who have fallen out of love with the idea that attack is the best form of defence are reminded that Seagal never gets involved unless he has to. Also, his skills for improvising weapons out of things like bar towels and microwaves make him the perfect choice in an age where we have aircraft carriers without aircraft and whatnot.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Chief Secretary is bit of a work experience job – it was what Danny Alexander went on to after having been press officer for the Cairngorms national park. I can think of no greater gift to a tax-avoiding humanitarian than a working knowledge of taxation and the surprising possibilities of the revenues acquired thereby when big people as well as little people pay it.

Secretary of State for Education
Barack Obama

Let’s face it, we’d have appreciated him so much more over here. Plus I think it would be a useful indication of how immensely important Prime Minister me deems this department if I appointed the 44th president of the United States to it.

Secretary of State for Transport

Got to hand it to him with Tesla and SpaceX. Plus I think if immensely powerful Silicon Valley billionaires were politicians, journalists would interrogate their ideas far more forensically and unsparingly than they do now, where they mostly try to beat them to their own press releases and come off as overly-impressed admirers.

Secretary of State for Health
Ben Goldacre

However unfashionable it has historically been for ministers to have the first clue about what they’re in charge of, the thought of someone who understood its various complexities better than pretty much anyone would be a delicious novelty in this fairly critical area of British national life.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Armando Ianucci

Britain has only three world-class global exports: financial services, weapons, and the BBC. Two are lovingly nurtured by governments, the third is under perma-siege. The internationally successful and ferociously smart Iannucci understands all this. I particularly loved his MacTaggart lecture observation that ‘if the BBC were a weapons system, half the cabinet would be on a plane to Saudi Arabia to tell them how brilliant it was’.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Matthew Parris

I always think this is a bit of a made-up job, which is how I’d like it in this case, because I think Matthew is splendidly wise and brilliant and politically encyclopaedic and I would basically require him to be my consigliere.

Secretary of State for Justice
Tina Fey

Absolutely no idea where this 21st century comic pioneer stands on freedom of information and international justice, but I have a massive crush on her and think she’d have to at least take the meeting if I were offering her the chance to be Lady Chancellor of the United Kingdom. Americans like that stuff, I’m told. We also need a proper written constitution and a bill of rights, and Fey could run that writers’ room like a dream.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Martina Navratilova

Oddly tennis-heavy, this cabinet, but Martina is such a great liberal voice these days – always likeable, always finds the right tone. Plus she’s already done ‘I’m A Celeb’ so this wouldn’t be that much of a climbdown for her. Career earnings of a mere $21,000,000 would leave her unable to buy a house in central London, which should crystallise her thinking on the housing crisis.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Clare Balding

I have experience of Clare in an executive role, as she was my house captain at school (total establishment stitch-up, this one). We all voted for her to be head girl, which she was, and she’d be instantly and instinctively across this brief.

Secretary of State for International Development
Malala Yousafzai

Bit beneath her, obviously, but I think she’d make light work of obliterating ghastly Little Englanders like Nigel Farage (who himself wishes to obliterate this department, among others). Next to her on any platform, he and his ideas would never have looked smaller.

Secretary of State for Transport

These policies and responsibilities will be merged into the new Department of Housing, Transport and Devolution. Transport remains a key area of government policy, yet it cannot be treated as a distinct sector but integrated with devolution, town planning and housing.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Iain Duncan Smith

It has actually been one of the quiet progressive achievements of David Cameron to have embraced affirmative action so wholeheartedly that he has put someone as inept as IDS into Cabinet. Clearly, though, the problem has been with the role being remotely operational. I would retain Iain, but explain to him that his responsibilities have been rejigged and now entail deciding what’s in his packed lunch.

Your new Secretary of State, their title and responsibilities

Actual Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Alison Wolf

Thus my new department would have the title of Actual Work and Pensions Secretary. This position would be offered to Alison Wolf, signalling a new and essential closeness between this department and the ministry of education.