Sunak’s mini shuffle. More women – but otherwise, it’s back to the 1970s.

There was no parade of ministers down Downing Street for the cameras. No extra attention. There was no stagnant list of appointments to seek maximum coverage.

Instead, the prime minister has made a series of technocratic and instrumental changes to what he believes to be a sine qua non.

The return of an energy department was part of Rishi Sunak’s leadership election manifesto last summer. I asked where it was last November. Now here it is. Although the official statement announcing the news mentions the end of net zero, its importance is about the need for energy security – rightly so.

Gordon Brown created an energy and climate change department, Theresa May merged it with the business department (her then chief of staff, Nick Timothy, thought it was too green-focused), that department itself has become rather green… and Sunak appears. The original, 1970s-style, security-oriented energy department is being recreated.

Prime Minister Kemi Badenoch was thinking of sending her to the new department, but she was quick to think again. During his bid for the leadership he criticized Britain’s Net Zero project (before coming back on line). Regardless, he’s backed off for Grant Shapps, who will focus on safety as he’ll be asked to do.

Sunak is not known to have been the biggest fan of the old BEIS section, and so stripped the green element from it, added it to trade – and wisely allowed Badenoch to extend his writ from international trade to include trade. Again, he seems to be re-inventing a creation of the 1970s: the old Department of Commerce and Industry. Out of the title of art strategy, by the way.

The international trade department has been out of the public eye (although it didn’t hurt when Liz Truss was at the helm), and the newly merged department will give Badenoch, surely a future leadership contender at some point again, a chance to move closer to a center stage. Notably, she is responsible for trans policies as the Minister for Women and Equality.

The prime minister’s interest in technology has been written about as thoroughly as his fondness for mathematics (at least not in Konholm) – going all the way back to his Mess Lectures as chancellor. So we have to have a “department dedicated to science, innovation and technology” – again, that has a touch of the 1970s about it.

It has been claimed that Sunak wanted to send Michael Gove to lead it: so as the latter flat-lined Boris Johnson’s idea, so he is likely to front the Prime Minister’s initiative, the new Science and Technology Department. I’m not sure this was a good idea, unless Sunak wanted a series of “Now Sunak Kills Johnson’s Dream”-type headlines.

So Michelle Donnellan moved there from a culture department that would be like John Major’s set-up without digital. Lucy Fraser leaves the housing to replace him. (That’s about 15 housing ministers in 12 years.) Predictably, women are prominent in this mini-shuffle. Last year, like Frazer, Shapps (finally, and Donelan second round), a Sunak supporter.

Such as Greg Hands, sent to become party chairman as the ultimate safe hand. A former deputy chief, he was, we’re told, “a government minister since October 2011” (and thus must be considered the ultimate survivor). He is relatively unusual as a Tory MP for a London seat. And as a politician who prefers attack to defense, the same applies.

Hands have been on the cabinet boundary for some time but, since promotion opportunities for straight white men are not what they used to be, the opportunity has had to wait until the opportunity seems to have passed. Hands is a former Treasury chief secretary in the George Osborne era and a staunch opponent of customs union membership.

So, then: nothing for transitites, no retraction for Conor Burns (which seems odd), and George Freeman, with his devotion to the subject, must consider himself unlikely to get the science gig.

These changes are important to Sunak. To you, they may be deckchair shuffles. Whether they come to anything may depend on whether the ranks of the civil service win behind them, or quietly dismiss the Prime Minister as a lame duck.

Meanwhile, Sunak delighted us all by appointing Lee Anderson as Deputy Party Chairman. As for Dominic Raab, if he leaves the Cabinet soon, expect a few minor changes confined to law officers.