Conservative Diary

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4/10: Rebooting Project Cameron: An outward-looking 10 Downing Street

By Tim Montgomerie
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In the previous blogpost I looked at the need for a more balanced Tory frontbench. The Prime Minister also needs a more balanced team at Number 10 Downing Street.

Within his inner circle we have Ed Llewellyn, a chief of staff who is very committed to the European project. There's pollster Andrew Cooper, an uber-moderniser with a confrontational history towards the grassroots. Steve Hilton has Thatcherite instincts but has few connections with the parliamentary party or Conservative movement. The new speechwriter Julian Glover is gifted but he comes from The Guardian. He's a Liberal Conservative. Then there's Craig Oliver, the BBC man who replaced Andy Coulson. Craig has no history of any connections to the Conservative Party. Each of these individuals have real gifts but taken together they explain why Cameron has become detached from the rest of the Conservative Party. When the team is next refreshed he should be looking to bring in people with excellent connections across the party and with high level experience of running teams. Five names that would be on my list would be Charles Moore, Jonathan Hill, Sir Stephen Sherbourne, Charles Lewington and George Bridges.

David Cameron also needs a new Parliamentary Private Secretary or even three.

Desmondswayne_000Through no fault of his own the Rt Hon Desmond Swayne has been at Cameron’s side for too long and is no longer seen as independent. He even acted as an effective whip during the EU revolt, not as a PPS, cajoling MPs into voting against a referendum. One MP who watched him trying to shepherd people into the government lobbies described him as "100% kool aided".

In terms of a replacement Edward Timpson would be ideal. He's hugely popular and well connected across the party. It might be worth having two PPSs. Michael Howard had Alistair Burt (best connections on the Left) and Graham Brady (best connections on the Right). Therese Coffey or Tracey Crouch from the new intake would be good choices as a partner for Timpson. Both enjoy colleagues' confidence and are feisty enough to tell Cameron what he might not want to hear.

A PPS in the Lords might also be worth considering. John Major had Lord (Ian) McColl at his side when he was PM and it helped him keep in touch with opinion in the Upper House where much business is getting stuck.  Lord (John) Gardiner is attached to the Number 10 Political Office but there might still be value in having someone who is dedicated to being the PM's "eyes and ears" among Tory peers.

> In the fifth part of this series at 2pm: A new Party Chairman


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