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3/10 Rebooting Project Cameron: A reshuffle that recognises the breadth of the Conservative family

By Tim Montgomerie
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This is what I write in this morning's Times (£):

"David Cameron has never tried party management, preferring party control. He has acted as a presidential Il Duce rather than as a prime ministerial first among equals. He has marginalised alternative voices — stuffing the front bench, his No 10 private office, the House of Lords and Tory HQ with über-loyalists."

I've described this process in more detail on a previous occasion. I continue:

"Mr Cameron calculated that he could get away with this. He thought that his alliance with the Liberal Democrats protected him from rebellious elements within his own party. He miscalculated. He underestimated the extent to which the new intake of Tory MPs is ideologically Conservative and constituency-focused rather than instinctively careerist."

So what can be done? Here we go:
  • One of the straws that broke the camel’s back before the rebellion of the 81 was the decision to effectively replace Liam Fox with Justine Greening. The Right felt under-represented before Fox went and the new balance of the Cabinet was seen as an insult.
  • The next reshuffle (when it eventually comes) should prioritise the Right, the outcasts and those elected before 2010.
  • When the reshuffle comes the aim should be to achieve political and social balance. Three priorities overall:
    • People from the Right should be promoted, eg Chris Grayling and Nick Herbert;
    • Talented people who have been cast out need to be rehabilitated: eg Mark Field with his enormous knowledge of the financial sector;
    • People who didn’t make it from the opposition frontbench to the government frontbench, eg Stephen Hammond and Mark Simmonds.
  • With the possible exceptions of Nick de Bois, Dom Raab and Liz Truss – some of the most outstanding talents from the 2010 intake – there shouldn’t be many promotions from the Class of 2010. The idea that newbies should be promoted so quickly is a very new and flawed idea.
  • When the next Lords appointments are made they should include, for example, Ann Widdecombe and the likes of Jill Kirby and Ruth Lea. Cameron must communicate that all members of the Conservative family will prosper under his watch.

> In the fourth part of this series at noon: Refreshing Cameron's inner team


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