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It seems to be a bit of an "open secret" and I now hope that any reshuffle takes place as soon as possible! Yes, bring back Ken Clarke - the Mail suggests he be made Mandelson's opponent at Business and this would certainly be an excellent move - leaving George where he is and at the same time having a "big beast" in place.

Provided that he can stick to the party line on Europe...

But Big ken will never be up against Mandleson, unless they put Ken in the Lords. He will be up against mandleson's number two or three! Now that is not the contest we want to see.

I would love to see Clarke against Brown. So Clarke for leader!

Glad to see such a big vote of confidence in George.

Our Shadow Cabinet- with a couple of exceptions- is pitiful. It reminds me of Labour's under little Kinnock. For Kaufman as Foreign Secretary [!] we offer Osborne as Chancellor. He is palpably unqualified for the role.

Of course we need some political heavyweights back in- it is bloody obvious.


Little Duncan


Grieve [too 1950's]
Little Osborne


Mackay [Chief Whip]
Rifkind [Shadow Chancellor]
David Davis
David Davies

William Hague also needs a kick up the a*se. He owes his career to this Party.

The talent is available- it is just not being used.

London Tory - agree with some of what you say! Let's get Greg Hands in there asap!

This party needs Ken Clarke back in the Shadow Cabinet .................... like an aperture in the cranial cavity!

Lord Clarke of Rushcliffe sounds good to me!

If Clarke comes back we'll know the Euro is 'game on' for the Tories.

Clarke has thrown away his career over the EU. He should only be broughtr back if he was to offer an absolutely cast iron guarantee that he would cause no trouble for the party over this issue. I very much doubt he will be prepared to do so.

I agree with Malcolm. If Clarke can agree to this, then bring him back by all means.
Big beasts indeed, big voices also and we need this.

The Euro is an irrelevant red herring to all but the Bill Cash wing of the Conservative Party. It will never happen under a Conservative Govt, for the simple reason that it would split the Conservative Party.

I am more interested in winning the election, and for that to happen we need to avoid creating fatuous Aunt Sallies, and bring back Clarke.

I'm not a member of the Conservative Party but sympathise on many issues.

I would be delighted to see Ken Clarke and David Davis in the Shadow Cabinet but Theresa Villiers (and her anti-Heathrow/Gatwick expansion ideas) slung out, perhaps sent to the House of Lords.

Clarke would not be a satisfactory counter to Mandelson in the Lords for they both share the same views about the EU and it is our membership of the EU and the over-regulation and bureaucracy which this entails, which will hinder the recovery of small and medium British businesses. These businesses employ two thirds of our workforce outside of the public sector. Hence, we shall increasingly find that our economy is controlled by the Government and a few large multi-national companies. So much for free trade and competition.

Clarke would be good in the Lords. He might raise interest in the institution. However, I don't think you'd get him to give up his outside interests easily.

Also, we can't lose Alan Duncan!

I agree with what Sally says at the top of the comments, and with 'strapworld's' first paragraph @ 8.46, but absolutely definitely NOT his comment 'Clarke for leader'!

As long as he can keep his mouth zipped on Europe and the Euro (and it is just possible, that even he has noticed how the EU 'dream' has become debased and gone sour these days!), he is a great asset!

I forgot to add that, yes, I think it would also be a great idea to have David Davis back in the Shadow Cabinet, in some capacity. But I also think that Cameron and Osborne should stay as they are!

I am sure that George Osborne is a highly intelligent man, (he has after all gone to one of the finest schools in the world) but he lacks gravitas compared to former Conservative Chancellors and Shadow Chancellors. He just does not seem to punch his weight against Darling etc.

Ken Clarke could wipe the floor with Darling but I can see why the more Euro-sceptic Tory supporter would not wish him in that position.

"but I can see why the more Euro-sceptic Tory supporter would not wish him in that position"

I could see that too, Steve but I am sure Ken Clarke is adult enough not to let his views on Europe impinge on other policy areas he might become involved in.

I'm asking myself the question what Clarke is supposed to bring to cabinet, and find the only answer I can come up with is the ability to open his mouth to make suggestions as to what the government should do differently.

I note that Darling made it clear in the commons that Kenneth Clarke had "agreed" with the VAT reduction. Clarke clarified that he said they should have costed it but he did not say he disagreed with it, so where does that put Kenneth Clarke on the side of public opinion especially when he has also said David Cameron's policy on Europe is a "headbanging" policy, and that despicable insult is also in contrast to public opinion.

So I'm left with a guy who some imagine will say what they want to hear. "cuts", "prudence", and "better judgement" perhaps, or is it that they expect can just shout louder than the others and has a personal inner strength to take the likes of Mandelson to task where others are unable?

Where has the inability of others to do this been seen incidentally when Mandy has stayed clear from much of the argument by doing his timely ( common closed ) analysis?

I think Kenneth Clarke DOES have something to offer, he can back David Cameron and George Osborne, and he'd make an admiral Lord to fight the duplicitous policies of Mandelson if he was promoted to that position so as to leave the fron bench with a closely knitted team providing some big hitters like Davis are put there and David Cameron and George Osborne begin to release the strategic proposals THEY will be doing when in government instead of handing policies delivered on a plate to Labour with a "We'll be pleased if the government adopt our proposals" approach.

This approach should be terminated.
Instead, they should be saying "If we were in government, this would happen", let us into government to sort this mess out which is deeping every day Labour clings on to power.

They should be strident and clear in their approach and now is the time to deliver precisely what the country wants to hear.

Tax cuts.
An end to waste and needless bureaucracy.
Ring Fencing of essential services but with a price of change.
More transparency, clearer direction and a future laid out to the public so we can see where we are heading as opposed to the current sticking plaster policies of Labour which resemble the boy with his thumb in the dyke wall.

I want the repatriation of some powers from the EU, I do not want the euro, nor the constitution and could be talked into BOO but I would have no difficulty with the prospect of Ken Clarke coming back into a conservative government.

As Steve Foley rightly points out, KC could wipe the floor with Darling (and Brown, too) on economic matters, so we need his gravitas, clout and charisma.

If George Osborne is to stay in his present position, then the treasury team need people with much greater economic and business experience to support him.

The reason that so many of us have been critical in the past lies in the fact that (i) Brown still gets away with his own opinion of himself as chancellor (when he should have resigned because of abject failure) and (ii) the tories had no prompt and coherent strategy to deal with the recent economic disasters as they unfolded.

Osborne is not ready for such a big role as Shadow Chancellor.

Duncan behaves as if he is indispensable but unlike Hague he is not.

Spelman needs to be replaced with someone who has experience running a general election campaign and who can perform in the media.

Trouble with putting Clarke against Mandelson would be that they are two heads of the same coin. Please clarify what the political differences between these two are?In different circumstances they could both be memebers of the same party/government.

I'm extrememely Euro-Skeptic, but I can't wait for Ken Clarke to come back. I hope he'll be sensible enough to preface any pro-Euro points with "this is my personal opinion and certainly not representative of the party." There's nothing wrong with a difference of opinion, as long as its clearly stated as such.

Nobody, to my mind, is more important to return than David Davis though. I'd sacrifice almost any member of the cabinet to the back benches for him to return.

I thought it was all about change not back to the future!!

I think it's pretty much a no-brainer that David Davis comes back. I'd like to see him given the Home Office Brief again.

Dominic Grieve, talented undoubtedly looks and sounds like he's just come out of the 1950s and isn't able to make points concisely enough (would make a great attorney general). Davis would give a punchy, no-nonsense line of crime and order issues, and also plays well with swing voters and upper working/lower middle class voters.

Ken Clarke would be a master stroke. If Brown can bring in a sworn enemy like Lord Mandelson of Rio, surely we can have everyone's favourite former Health-Secretary-cum-Tobacco-Executive?

I think we need to get some bigger, hairier gorillas back in the jungle, as the word on the street is that Blunkett's being lined up for a rehabilitation. You heard it here.

Kenneth Clarke has placed Europe above party loyalty in the past and would do so again. He believes in the European Project, and has let it be known that he views Westminster politics as provincial, back-water.

The Euro, for now, is not an issue, but the UK's attitude and actions towards further European integration are. BBC World Service listeners hear constantly about European foreign policy, rarely about British. European leadership regarding trade with Russia, African policy, etc. calls the shots collectively, and regulations governing many aspects of business and social policy come from the Commission. Independent, sovereign action by member states is increasingly difficult to achieve -- due to treaty, regulation, circumstance and near universal acceptance of the new status quo by European leadership across the geographical and political spectrum. We can only guess at the direction and sincerity of Mr Cameron's position in the face of these self evident facts.

The great European project appears to have reached critical mass. I think the acronym TINA once again pertains.

Europe is just one issue, and it's no longer as explosive as it once was. It should not prevent one of party's big talents returning, personally I think he's been wasted far too long. Business Secretary would ideal, and economic brief alongside Osborne, and would demonstrate to the electorate the tories are serious. If you put the question this way: Would Labour like Clarke back on the front-bench? Absoultely not. That says it all. Also bring back Davis, but not as Home Secretary. To give him his old job straight back would be viewed as weak by Cameron. Duncan-Smith is due back also.

Leader of the Opposition: David Cameron
Shadow Chancellor: George Osborne
Shadow Business Secretary: Ken Clarke
Shadow Foreign Secretary: William Hague
Shadow Home Secretary: Iain Duncan-Smith
Shadow Justice Secretary: David Davis

Now that would be an unstoppable team. The Labour Cabinet will look like amateurs in comparison.

I would certainly like to see the return of David Davis and John Redwood.

Ken Clarke and his europhile views are NOT needed.

P.S. If only Jack Stone would, "go back to the future!!"

@Leon Bancroft
"Leader of the Opposition: David Cameron
Shadow Chancellor: George Osborne
Shadow Business Secretary: Ken Clarke
Shadow Foreign Secretary: William Hague
Shadow Home Secretary: Iain Duncan-Smith
Shadow Justice Secretary: David Davis"

Yes that would be (in principle) an excellent team. However, in practice I suggest:

Leader of the Opposition: David Cameron
Shadow Chancellor: George Osborne
Shadow Foreign Secretary: William Hague
Shadow Home Secretary: Dominic Grieve
Shadow Justice Secretary: Ken Clarke
Shadow Business Secretary: John Redwood
Party Chairman: Chris Grayling
Shadow Work and Pensions: Nick Herbert

Note - this is a shadow team: if we win I'd bring IDS into the Cabinet at a stroke.

Mandelson isn't there for Business, he's there as "defacto DPM and Minister for anti-Milliband-ism and the like". For that, bring Clarke back, in a role where he has experience (he was Home Sec) but where he can't do any damage on Europe.


The article found on the link above, I know is a few years old, however as a constituent of Mr Clarkes and having held discussions with him through the local association I would suggest that this view has not waived. Yes there is no denying he believes in the European Union, however I even think he has realised that a Federal Europe is not the way forward and something the electorate strongly disagree with.

There is not enough discipline on the back-benches and so the Chief Whip needs to go while I remain to be convinced that we are hitting the hapless Harman hard enough nor are we yet looking like a government in waiting which the Cabinet Office Spokesman is supposed to be sorting out.

Andrew Mackay as Deputy Chief Whip during John Major's last year in office helped ensure that we lost not one vote on the floor of the Commons and is a trusted adviser to the Party Leader. Mr Mackay ought to be Chief Whip. Sir Malcolm Rifkind by virtue of is great experience & being a centrist figure could both Shadow on Commons business ( by tearing Harriet Harman to bits on the basis of being an adult taking on a child in an adults body while being a bi-partisan champion of MP's rights to hold the government to account) and Cabinet Office issues ( he could ready us for government as he knows Whitehall like the back of his hand & would know how quickly we could get admin over heads down etc).

Jacqui Smith has been let off the hook by the ineffectual Dominic Grieve who was a superb Shadow Attorney General. He should go back to a job where he starred leaving IDS as Shadow Home Secretary to offer a positive agenda on why fighting crime benefits the needy as well as the Middle Classes. IDS is a hard-worker no doubt at all who could sell a one-nation agenda explaining why we are a Nice Party that wants to free people from crime.

David Davis can be Shadow Justice Secretary with a brief to beef up our defense of civil liberties while offering concrete plans to enhance British liberty under a Tory government. He would be an excellent foil for Jack Straw who would not like facing tough questions from a bruiser.Lib Dem voters talk about a liberal Britain - David Davis could get them voting Conservative by offering one.

Theresa Villiers has done a fine job with her pro-green transport policy that should reap great benefits in seats where we face Lib Dem competition. She has done to make the Torie look like a Green Party than the invisible Peter Ainsworth. Promoting her by merging the Environment & Transport briefs would make sense allowing Miss Villiers to continue to offer an eco-friendly alternative to Labor. Labor marginals in London & the South-East/Essex could go Tory to avoid being deafened by any airline expansion in the Capital. She is a plausible advocate of green conservatism that when needed puts ordinary people ahead of big business. Promoting her to Shadow Environment & Transport Secretary is fair , logical and Morally right.

Michael Gove has been outstanding at the Schools portfolio & he should retain that and combine it with Universities & Skills so that he can use his vast intellect to offer solutions to the problems hitting our high universities as he has with schools. Mr Gove should be a proper Shadow Eduction Secretary who can get on with selling plans to repair the damage done by various Guardian reading loonies since 1997. David Willetts other than insulting parents of grammar school children & writing the manifestos that produced electoral melt-down in 1997 &2001 has made no real impact to speak of.

Nick Herbert is a very able & clever man who could devise & sell some superb ideas on tackling unemployment , the poverty trap and the pensions crisis - he could be Shadow Welfare Secretary. Chris Grayling is an attack dog who Labor fear and who can manage the media to perfection - a better choice for Party Chairman than the hopeless Mrs Spelman, surely ?

Andrew Mitchell is rightly sniped at by fellow MP's for being useless - Justine Greening would be a fine advocate for a modern compassionate conservatism to help the Third World. She is a grafter who comes over well on TV and could do the Shadow Overseas Aid job superbly. Andrew Lansley labors under the illusion that copying Labor while attacking them on health will somehow fool voters into trusting us with the NHS . Angela Watkinson would not be a BMA stooge but would work hard to ensure that Tory health policy while respecting professionals would put patients first. She puts in a lot of effort and helped John Redwood write that great booklet Health Choices- Mrs Watkinson would be great as Shadow Health Secretary.

Alan Duncan with his business interests is a distraction while Ken Clarke would be a big hitter to fight Mandy & expose Gordon Brown's economic mess. He would give our economic policy more substance and more credibility in the eyes of the voters who still love him. Big Ken for Shadow Business Secretary !

John Redwood could be Policy Director so that we get the radical policies needed to regain office while Chris Grayling is the ace salesman needed to sell them to the voters. Saying farewell to Mr Letwin and Mrs May will not be the gravest crisis to strike the Tory Party.....

There are 3 issues that need resolving to win the election with a working majority.

Policies - they need binding together as a theme and the issue of how/when to announce the big policy ideas needs resolving because it appears we have been caught in the headlights over how to deal with Labour nicking our ideas or whether to get on with it anyway.

Message - there needs to be a carefully worked out consistent few messages that highlight our position and Labour weaknesses. It should position us as the future and on the side of the public etc

People - perception in politics is important and although we have made great strides generally there appears to be a need to re-balance the front bench to make it harder hitting preferably also with a bit of northern grittiness in there as well.

Matthew Reynolds at 11.00. A very interesting review of our - currently - available talent, which, as you suggest, if it were better disposed would show up the lame ducks in the present government.

However, the most important portfolio of all - the treasury team - you do not mention. At the moment, it seems as if David Cameron is shadowing the First Lord of the Treasury part of the PM's job. My view is that, if Osborne is to remain as Chancellor when we are in government, then he needs far greater - and prompter - support from his team.

I've really enjoyed reading some of these posts, which have been thought provoking and mainly constructive.

I think IDS deserves a Shadow post - not sure which one though. As much as I respect her, I think Caroline Spelman is out of her depth and needs to be moved.

Clarke back in yes but what ever job he is given we need to be prepared for him to be in the Cabinet if/when we win the next election - I don't have a problem with this but I know others in the party do.

Grieve has done ok as Shadow Home Sec but I only see him as a stop gap - I think he is better where he was or as Justice Sec.

Chris Grayling & Crispin Blunt are both good prospects for some sort of job but as much as I have amired Grayling's work, I am not sure Party Chairman is the right job for him.

Eric Pickles would be the Chairman for me, he has the potential to really make his mark, like Norman Tebbit or Cecil Parkison (in his first term) did.

Happy New Year.

All the news in Dewsbury as I have reported on Con Home previously is that Sayeeda Warsi is tipping herself to be Party Chairman and Ken Clarke to be Business Secretary, Ms Warsi is openly letting people close to her in this constituency know the make up of the new Shadow Cabinet, IDS will return I understand as will John Redwood - God help us. The 100 peers! Can we sack Warsi and make th total up to 101 peers for nomination?

For Gods sake, stop going on about the Euro!!! That split & battle has been fought a decade ago. It was an irrelevant argument then and it will be an irrelevant argument if the Tories don't get into power....which without more talent and experience they won't. If people are saying there is no place in the Conservative party for people with differing or wide ranging views then they may as well pack up and go home now and not bother contesting any election

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