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Learning from the '22 elections, Cameron should use his reshuffle to rebuild big tent Conservatism

By Tim Montgomerie
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After this week's 1922 elections we have an inclusive and representative body for backbenchers.

Perhaps the same could now happen for the frontbench and David Cameron's Number 10 operation?


There are a number of key reasons why Cameron does not command as much loyalty as a Tory leader should. One of them is what I call the forgiveness factor. With the exception of Hugo Swire (who is a long-standing chum) he has never restored anyone to office who has in some way upset him. When the reshuffle comes (and my guess is that it will be after the Olympics because Mr Cameron won't want to disrupt Home Office and other relevant ministerial teams before then) he should take the opportunity to show that he won't let talented people languish on the backbenches forever. He should send a message that 'there is a way back'. He should rebuild the big Tory tent.

Promoting David Davis would be the most powerful way of achieving this (and the most popular with grassroots members) but I fear that the former Shadow Home Secretary has criticised the Tory leader on so many occasions that such a restoration would be too hard for Cameron to swallow. The whips may also argue that parliamentary discipline will be very hard to maintain if such a serial critic is rewarded. I would suggest Cameron embraces three exiles and in the process he would strengthen the government and help knit the party together.
  1. First, Graham Brady. Although it would be unusual for a Chairman of the '22 to move to the frontbench Graham is a very young Chairman. He's one of the most thoughtful members of the party's Mainstream Right, represents a Northern seat and has extensive and deep relationships with the parliamentary party. He would bring a great deal to the Cabinet. I can't imagine that anything less than a Cabinet post would be fitting for the man who resigned as Shadow Europe Minister for Cameron's policy on grammar schools.
  2. Second, Mark Field. As his ConHome column today proves once again Mark is one of the Tory benches' most insightful economic commentators. It's a terrible waste of talent not to have him on the Treasury or BIS benches. He has often annoyed Numbers 10 and 11 with his criticisms of the direction of the party but his backing of the extra IMF lending was a sign that he pragmatically approaches every issue on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Third, Stewart Jackson. Stewart resigned as PPS to Owen Paterson in order to vote with eighty colleagues in support of an EU referendum. A member of the Class of 2005 he missed out on a place on the 1922 by just three votes when MPs voted on Wednesday. He'd make a superb addition to the local government team, where he served in opposition.


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