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I too have a feeling that the reshuffle will happen sooner rather than later and it was nice to see my old chum Jeremy Hunt at yesterday's David Cameron speech. I would love to see him as Party Chairman but also feel that Big Eric could also do a great job - so I imagine we will just have to wait and see!

Oh, my other comments:

1. Bring back Patrick Mercer - he should never have gone - and we need him back in that same post; and
2. Yes, promote Greg Hands - and I do not say this simply because he is my local MP - Greg has a forensic brain and would be the master of any brief he was given!

It'll be interesting to see the comments on this thread. I'm quite inclined to support all your key points although I don't know too much about the work of most of the 'indespensables' (apart from Loughton who already is a master of the children's brief).Perhaps you could get these people to write a platform piece explaining what they do?
Also I would very much like to see Grayling as party chairman. If his strategic and organisation skills are as good as his media performances then he'll be very good indeed.

Tim,

Theresa Villiers must go, she is not Cabinet, let alone Shadow Cabinet material. She is regarded as a joke by those in the know, is a very poor Commons performer and makes a fool of herself on programmes like Question Time.

We must also bring experience to the Shadow Cabinet, people like Lord Trimble, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, John Redwood, IDS and yes, Ken Clarke should be given roles. We would then have a wonderful ticket to campaign on - change and experience.

I share many of your reservations with regard to Ken Clarke, but he is popular and in the current climate would bring much needed experience to the top table. I am sure that for the sake of the Party and the Country, he would toe the Party line.

@ Sally

Of course Mercer should have been dropped.

Don't forget that he was one of Brown's Useful Idiots at the start of his Premiership- along with little Bercow, Mercer was one of the few gullible and non tribal Tories who allowed himself to be played like a fiddle by the most tribal Labour politician of all time.

I do find it somewhat sickening that Shadow Cabinet members have been briefing against Ken Clarke, and ConHome are playing their tunes for them.

Little Duncan, Mitchell, Ainsworth, Spelman, Maude etc, when not busy with their second/third jobs- have collectively generated the public profile of an empty crisp packet over the last three years.

Paxman had great fun with Osborne on Newsnight last night when he made the claim-rightly- that we are a one man band. Clarke would dispel this notion in an instant. Better still, the public actually KNOW and LIKE him, quite a novelty for people like Duncan.

One final point. No promotion under any circumstances for little Ed Vaizey, busy courting Guardian voters in Wantage again with his claim today that Harold Pinter deserves a memorial in Hyde Park.

Ed- you are supposed to be a CONSERVATIVE.

Sally. Agree with you on Eric Pickles. He is a must for Party Chairman, as he will connect with the masses. Glad to see others want a recall for Patrick Mercer. His sacking was an error of judgement by DC.
The elephant in the room is David Davis. He is the epitome of poor boy made good and a champion of the rights of the common man. Leaving him in the cold allows the socialists to use him as an example of "Toff-erism" controlling the Tories. Both he and "euro Ken" will introduce tensions into the shadow cabinet which DC by now should have the experience to keep creative rather than destructive. Both are too good to leave out.

anyone who wants Redwood back should be kept away from sharp objects

John Hayes is a great man and an undiscovered national treasure

To bring back Ken Clarke would be a mistake of the first order.

Never forget that he publicly supported Blair as regards the eu and that at a time when the party was trying to demonstrate unity.

His potential to divide us is enormous.

If there are changes it needs to be to bring in more experience and a bit of "northern" grittiness. This would be the perfect balance for Cameron and give a strong team to go into an election. Notice how Obama was clever to do the same to balance his team. Shad Cab members also need to be really biting at the bit to stick up for ordinary people and seen to be itching for a hard fight. So far the people who come across like that are Grayling, Pickles and David Davis.

Oh please, Nick Gibb? On the education brief he has proved time and again that he has his own agenda and is not in step with Michael Gove.

The fact that he praised Key Stage 3 SATs the day before they were rightly abolished by the government speaks volumes about his credibility.

Hoopla

"anyone who wants Redwood back should be kept away from sharp objects"

JR is the one prominent MP who has called the financial crisis correctly and he certainly is very sharp!

If there are changes it needs to be to bring in more experience and a bit of "northern" grittiness. This would be the perfect balance for Cameron and give a strong team to go into an election. Notice how Obama was clever to do the same to balance his team. Shad Cab members also need to be really biting at the bit to stick up for ordinary people and seen to be itching for a hard fight. The people who come across like that in different ways but effectively are Grayling, Pickles, David Davis, Ken Clarke, IDS.

Stop using the Euro as an Aunt Sallie with which to beat Ken Clarke. It isn't going to happen. And it is even less likely to happen under a Tory Govt, a prospect which is made far more likely with Ken Clarke's return to the Shadow Cabinet.

Sir Alan Walters died yesterday. Are we really saying that in 20 years we have gone from the Party of Mrs Thatcher to the Party of ..errr..Caroline Spelman,

oh please

I agree that Mercer should come back. He has commanded military units in Bosnia and Northern Ireland and would give so much credibility on Defence that we would win the vote of every serviceman, every ex-serviceman and all their families.

David Davis HAS to come back, and to Shadow Home Secretary too. This is an area where we need some Northern grit, and Davis connects very well with blue collar, Sun-reading, C2 voters in a way Dominic Grieve can't (though he'd be a great Attorney General)

Eric Pickles is too good in the media to leave out and so needs to be given a prominent position; Party Chariman would be perfect.

Appointments such as Davis and Pickles would be a real boost to those of us campaigning in Northern and Midlands marginals and would add some balance to the perceived Southern-bias of the shadow cabinet.

Agree with Tim about Stephen Crabb. He is one of the few members of the 2005 intake with a genuinely working-class background - one of the horny-handed sons of toil that Cameron needs to counter the Tory Toff attack.

Theresa Villers must go. The only argument I've heard in her favour is that she's developed clear policies on her brief. This should be a given. Her poor media and Commons performances negate the benefit of her policy ideas.

"Stop using the Euro as an Aunt Sallie with which to beat Ken Clarke."

Glad you spelt it with an "ie", London Tory! I may be an Aunt (indeed a Great Aunt!) but I certainly wouldn't beat anyone - least of all the Great Ken Clarke! ;-)

John Redwood & David Davis should be top of the list.

Ken Clarke's EU position rules him out for all time.

The conservative party is supposed to be a broad church and a cabinet should be able to accommodate one or two people who hold contrary views to the majority. As long as Ken Clarke would agree to be bound by cabinet decisions, I see no reason for his EU views to be a bar to a return to government.

On this specific issue, I would prefer the party to put in its manifesto that it will hold a referendum on the EU within a year of taking office and that the result of the referendum would inform government policy on the matter. I think that the will of the nation should be heard - and heeded - on this vitally important issue.

DD to return as Shad Home Sec is a must. The man is clever, working-class and a good media performer.

Dominic Grieve as Shad Attorney General. He is an intellectual heavy weight that performs well in this role.

Ken Clarke should be brought back but gagged on Europe - we need a big beast who is also a good media performer and all round likeable guy. Mandelson is doing a good job for Labour as the pro-Euro party. Our message has to be that we are the only Eurosceptic party capable of getting reform.

Villiers. Transport is too important and needs a heavy weight to run it.

Spelman gets a bad press but is a genuine person. A role should be found for her. As for party chairman - Pickles!

Defence: perhaps a role for DD if DC is not willing to give him back his old job? We need a voice which is not being effectively carried out by Fox. DD is a former TA SAS officer and has many friends in the forces.

Redwood is a must as his blog has proved the only sensible voice on the economy. He would knock Vince Cable off the top spot for media comment.

There's far too much bitterness and resentment still directed at Ken Clarke by the fundamentalist, dogmatic wing of the party.

It's the same old let's-cut-off-our-noses-despite-our-faces brigade that Iain Dale rightly described in yesterday's CiF as 'dinosaurs' living in the past, unable to let go of past resentment.

Eg. Tim: "Since last month my opinion on this has hardened as I was reminded of the ways in which Ken Clarke held the Major government to ransom."

The uncompromising tone of this is surprising, and a little worrying - hardly modern, compassionate conservatism in action.

Let's get over the obsession about Europe, be mature about it, recognise that it is, to a large extent, yesterday's battle (Euroscepticism - or realism has easily won through), and that we need to get our act together and use all the talent available to take on Labour as a united team. Some of the attitudes towards fellow Conservatives in this party are really frustrating and totally immature.

I am going to digress, but I suggest that it solves the Ken problem.
I have argued before that "to join or not to join" is an issue that crosses party boundaries and thus should not be a party political issue. I'm an anti, but recognise that the pro's have a strong case. The moral method of dealing with this canker, for all parties, would be for the referendum to be held. Salvador Mundi is too frit to hold the referendum, so DC should make it Tory policy to hold the referendum within a year after the next election. He should allow MP's to campaign as their consciences dictate, provided all Tory MP's agreed to abide by the electorate's decision. I believe this is known as liberal democracy , and is of a form alien to, and actively suppressed in, the continental EU.

I thin k it's completely naive to excpect that Ken would come back and prepare to be gagged. He is an incredibly popular and polished performer and would be cracking to see him on the front-bench, but even as a europhile I can forsee the divisions he would create, if only becasue the right of the party wouldn't stop carping.

Get rid of Villiers, give her a Peerage in the New Years Honours and test the waters with the by-election in Barnet, a relatively safe seat.

Yes both Ken Clarke , kept away from any European brief, and David Davis must be brought back to add gravitas.

"Graham Brady would probably be the most potent symbol of healing given that it was the lowest period of the Cameron leadership - grammarsgate - that saw him resign as Shadow Europe Minister."

Is he a pal of yours Tim? I ask because you cannot argue to keep Clarke out of the Shadow Cabinet team because of his views on Europe, while advocating the return of the least known or talented former member who did so much to damage his own boss, colleagues and the party at our most vulnerable time politically in the last 3 years.

Utterly incredible, no return for Brady thanks, he would bring nothing back to the table at this point.

the case in favour of Villiers had to be one of Tim's more bizarre posts, hopefully it was brought on by too much brandy on his Christmas Pud.

this woman is a liability, she is jumping up and down at the prospect of increasing the cost of holidays for everyone in the country and has failed to hold the government to account on every issue that has come up in her area except for airport expansion, which she dogmatically opposes at every opportunity.

she MUST go, and she should take Brazier with her.

The basic fact about Clarke is that he is too valuable an asset to waste. He is a BETTER politician than just about every member of the Shadow Cabinet, even aged 68.

The greatest P.M since 1945 gave him major jobs in her Cabinet- she would not have left people like Duncan and Vaizey in charge of the Number Ten biscuit barrel.

Bring him back !

To ChrisD,

Let's not return to grammar schools but if you want to point fingers mine would be directed at David Cameron and David Willetts for causing the whole row in the first place.

Fair enough, Westminster Wolf, but I guess Chris D's point is that you have to be consistent about these things: if you want to demonstrate the healing of old wounds, you cannot advocate bringing back Brady but leaving Clarke on the backbenches, as Tim appears to be doing. It just smacks of personal bitterness otherwise.

If the party wants to win the election then Ken Clark should be brought back as Shadow Chancellor but I`m afraid the party would rather have purity on Europe than win therefore he will not return and the party will of course lose.
Bring back people like Davis, Redwood and IDS and the leadership will prove that it really as turned to the right.
If David Cameron as sense he will try to make the front bench look more like Britain and not like a debating society in a English Public School.

Westminster Wolf, please read my post correctly before prattling on about grammar schools and trying to kick things off again!

SW: There is no personal bitterness from me to Ken Clarke.

I would argue that there is a big difference between someone who has caused trouble for a series of leaders - Ken Clarke - and Graham Brady who stood down from the frontbench because of one big issue.

My bigger objection to Clarke other than him not being a team player is that he's wrong on big issues. Not just Europe but also welfare and the family.

Let's not forget Ken Clarke's role in selling fags to the developing world or that he cut overseas aid spending when he was Chancellor.

Absolutely right about Stephen Crabb Tim. He's an excellent communicator, impassioned Conservative and shows real commitment to any brief he is given. His work on the International Development Select Committee has been very solid and he'd be an asset to the Foreign, Defence or International Development teams!

Why so little discussion of David Davis - he is certainly a heavyweight/big beast? I believe he has set personal ambitions for the leadership aside, he has established his libertarian credentials but is known to take a tough line on crime and disorder. He has made mistakes but then haven't we all? It is how you move on and learn from such mistakes that matters.
I like his humour.


I find the anti- logic about Clarke bizarre.

# he is wrong on big issues #

No, he isn't. He is wrong on one issue- Europe. But then so is Bill Cash, IDS and all the other complacent chumps formerly known as 'Maastrict rebels' who did at least as much as Clarke to drive us into Opposition. One of the great sadnesses for me on Election Night 97 was Bill Cash NOT losing his seat in Stone. He deserved to.

"Welfare"- outstanding record as Chancellor, Home Sec, Education Sec and Health Sec is tackling waste and vested interests. Ask the NUT, ACPO or the BMA what they think about Ken's attitude to reform. Come of it.

And as for the "family", I laughed out loud at that one. Clarke would be one of the few members of a gauche and metropolitan Shadow Cabinet who has actually got a family ! Well, a conventional one, anyway.

All evidence shows that the public [and floating voters] like Clarke. Residents of Notting Hill, and elderly blazer wearers with a combover from the Home Counties are irrelevant. Ken consistently performs well in the media, and comes across as precisely the type of well rounded family man that the Cameroons need to attract into their somewhat battered metropolitan, trust funded tent.

With all due respect, the likes of Greg Clark and Ed Vaizey may have 'sound views' [although I doubt it] on welfare and the family, but it is irrelevant, because they are political chameleons and the public don't listen to them. Gove is another one.

Finally, can anyone imagine Ken Clarke publicly calling for a statue of the Communist Pinter to be erected in tribute in Hyde Park ? Is this what it now means to be a Cameroon Conservative ?

Get Clarke back, and quick.

George Osbournes performance on Newsnight was questionable, particularly when Paxman played the Corfugate card. I for one would support a return of Ken Clarke to the Shadow Chancellor Role, also with Phillip Hammond being quickly removed and replaced but by whom I'm not sure. Possibly promoting Justine Greening, to sit opposite Yvette Cooper. Have been fairly impressed with her.

One thing I did find interesting was why Osbourne was standing alongside Cameron, in a similar manner to Brown/Darling. I have no problem with the leader of the party leading the brief on treasury topics, after all if David becomes prime minister his title will be Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service however there does need to be a formal handover midway through the briefing to the shadow chancellor for the shadow chancellor to take the lead on the partys policy. The leader has the vision, the shadow chancellor has the answers, well supposedly. For me David and Ken would make a force to be reckon with, and I think also Ken would help counter the growing popularity of Dr Vince Cable, and with current opinion polls indicating a hung parliament, saving a couple of conservative seats may lead to conservative majority. Something I have not seen any conservative commentators pick up on.

As far as Party Chairman goes, I personally would have to give Damien Green the nod. His own defintion of conservatism matches closely to mine and from a PR point of view his name has been lifted in the press due to his "arrest". As much as I admire Eric Pickles for his grassroots approach and his own background countering the Labour "Toff" slurr his name is not as well known. I see Eric as an ideal candidate to replace Alan Duncan in the shadow business secretary role. His public speaking role would make easy pickings of Mandelsons business team in the Commons, with Mandelson sitting in the Lords. As for Alan Duncan I see him replacing Pickles, I think it would be difficult to get rid of him due to his donor contacts.

I also see Teresa May, Oliver Letwin and Francis Maude as ones to keep in there current roles, but if returned to government they may have to be considered to be moved to different roles. I see Sayeeda Warsi as an ideal Deputy Leader.

"Let's not forget Ken Clarke's role in selling fags to the developing world or that he cut overseas aid spending when he was Chancellor."
Thanks to the Nanny State, nicotine abuse in this country is now perceived as a sign of opposition to the Government rather than a public health hazard, and is increasing. Swindgeing taxation allows organised criminals to make a killing.
Refusing taxpayers money to be used as wereguild to such as India and China, or as stuffing for sub-saharan despots' Swiss bank accounts when none of these countries like us very much sounds reasonable to me.

There is a place for Ken Clarke, if, as suggested, the idea is to counter Mandelson as a "Big Beast" - The Lords!

I agree with most of the Editor's points but disagree with him on a few, i.e.

Theresa Villiers is utterly hopeless and out of her depth. She is dancing to Zac Goldsmith's tune. The transport brief must be given to a champion of cheap flights, road investment and private sector railways. Owen Paterson would do an excellent job.

Nick Gibb is another John Bercow who has drifted from libertarianism to the far left of the party. Tim Loughton and John Hayes have become unbearably pompous and self-important in recent years. Hayes is a self-proclaimed protectionist and authoritarian, i.e. a Tory dinosaur.

There should be promotion for our young Welsh MPs. The editor mentioned Stephen Crabb but I would add David Jones and David Davies. Wales should have a Welshman as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.

The divisive and factional David Mundell must go. There are several Scots, men and women, on the Conservative benches who would better and more popular north of the border.

Correction to the above:

Second paragrapth first line, meant to read why WASN't Osbourne standing alongside...

DD and Ken both need to be used effectively. What is astonising in all the discussion above is nothing about shifting Osborne. His credibility is shot to ribbons since the yacht incident, it will take a long time to recover. Paxman (through typically rude) hit the nail on the head. Blind loyalty to him from DC is not in the interests of the country or the party

If you have to bring Clarke back (which I doubt) why not balance him with Redwood - i.e make them both Treasury ministers?

Their right wing/left wing anti/pro EU leanings would cancel each other out leaving them to concentrate on the Economy....

As for David Davis, it is simple. He must be returned to the Shadow Home Secretary role. He offers a firm hand, in a key election winning area.

Fair point, Tim: Clarke did cause grief for leaders in the past, especially Hague and IDS. I don't share his European views, but he was most certainly right to point out that banging on about Europe was surely one of the most utterly pointless, irrelevant and toxic things that these leaders did. It made them same alien to the public worried about the economy, schools, hospitals etc. In this sense, at least, Clarke was proved correct. I really wish we could get over this obsession and deploy all our forces and talents - of which Clarke is one of the most effective - against Labour. As recent surveys have pointed out, most Conservatives would disagree with Clarke on Europe (as you personally do also on family and welfare policy), but most are prepared to admit the shadpw cabinet would be much stronger for his presence.

All Clarke cares about is himself.
Remember how he defended the Burma regime when a Director of B.A.T.?

I would post but SW appears to have said it all rather well.

Some of our opponents would like to present us as a self indulgent party who would rather fight old internal battles than save the nation.
Let's not give them ammunition - it would be a shame particularly as, an activist - it's not an attitude I see on the ground.
Mostly its confined to here.

Not IDS , tainted with failure and he didn't even get to fight a General Election which would not have resulted in the quite reasonable in the circumstances result that Howard achieved in 2005 , (no way was the Tory Party going to win that Election). I fear that had Duncan Smith been at the helm it would have been 2001 all over again.

On another thread they are looking for names for 100 Tory peers. Why not give IDS a Peerage and liberate a safe seat for a suitable Candidate?

Keep Ken Clark out - he will just be an excuse for the political media to talk endlessly about the tories rather than the disaster that is our current government.

Lose Spellman - she should have gone ages ago. Gradually admitting things only as they get independantly proven is truely Mandelsonesqe and should not be tolerated. Her continued presence is one of my (relative) disappointments with Cameron (along with continued membership of the EPP etc).

Osborne full statement about corfu perfectly demonstrated how to clear up misunderstandings where nothing underhand has actually occured; while mandleson still refuses to talk.

If Spellman needs an enquiry to tell her if she did anything wrong, then she is already disqualified. It reeks of the old political 'can I get away with it' attitude (expounded by Gordon Brown as 'You may think you are guilty but legal advice can show otherwise') that I am hoping Cameron will sweep away.

Pickles would be a great choice!

Just like Crewe - if the next election is won he could claim all the glory!

Spelman has been good. The main job, peversely, of Party Chairman is to keep CCHQ itself out of the headlines. In this curcial role she has been a great success.

Also, i think the editor fails to mention that on her watch we won by-elections, were ready to go for a general election last autumn and won London.


Graham Brady??? Have you been at the glue??!

Its not time to hit the panic button, but I do think the above discussions are justified with the current statistics shown on the electoral calculus website:

http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/

Replacing Caroline Spelman would be fundamnetally miunderstanding the place of the Party Chairman in the current set - up.

The role of chairman is all about doing loads of behind the scenes, thankless, nitty-gritty work with little public recognition or thanks. The person needed to do that is someone who is prepared to do lots of hard work and take very little glory for it - those qualities rule out most other contenders being pushed for the job.
The role of a modern Chairman has to be someone exactly like Caroline who is assiduous, down to earth and prepared to toil away behind the scenes while others bask in the limelight (some of them with very little justification).

Don't forget that on her watch the party has had its most successful electoral period since the 1980s. I find it frankly irritating that fellow Conservatives want to use a politically motivated attack from Michael Crick and the Labour attack dogs to destabilise our Party Chairman. A little bit of loyalty would go a long way. Instead, we choose to play right into our opponents hands.

I do find the arguments against a Ken Clarke return to be pretty nonsensical.

Firstly, how the man who advised the arch rebel Iain Duncan-Smith could attack Major's loyal Chancellor "holding the Major Government to ransom" is frankly beyond belief.

Secondly, it is pretty clear that Ken Clarke remains one of our most formidable operators. He is a first class presence both in the media and in the House and we must use him to his best potential. Of course, like the rest of the Shadow Cabinet he should agree to keep to the Party line on all issues. He is much too formidable a politician for the back benches.

It is rather a shame that people are so focused on the battles of ten years ago and so obsessed with ideological purity that they insist on keeping one of our top class performers out of the front line. In doing so, they are letting down their Party and letting down their country. Labour must be loving the fact that our obsession with Europe and ideological purity means that some Tories do not want us to deploy one of our most effective weapons.

The editorial also suggests that disloyalty is one reason that Clarke should not be brought back. That is, of course arrant nonsense. It is also pretty rich coming from the site that has been openly disloyal to the Party Chairman for several months.

My only hope is that the reshuffle will at last bring back some real Conservatives with real Conservative policies to replace the host of woolly minded wets determined to be carbon copies of New Labour. The country needs strong,honest and determined leadership - not just the ineffectual consensus politics which the party seems to be providing at the moment and which has never done any good. From top to bottom the whole party should stop being afraid of its own shadow and have the courage of its traditional convictions.

I try to be loyal Disraeli but it is difficult to have much faith in Caroline Spelman. She has by far the lowest profile of any party chairman within our party for the last 25 years. I always thought the role of the Chairman was to lead and enthuse members and attract new ones. On that basis Caroline Spelman has totally failed. If she's done good work behind the scenes then I'm glad. I've no idea what she's done though.
As regards Ken Clarke I must admit I'm a bit torn. He's superb in debate and would smash most of the government spokesman to pieces. However I've no wish at all to relive the dreadful intercenine warfare over Europe that benefits no one but the Labour Party. If the price of that means no front bench position for Ken then so be it.

No to Clarke under ant circumstances. The fragile credibility that cameron has on curbing the EU would be instantly undermined.

Yes to Pickles for Chairman although it would be a pity to lose him from Local Government when he is needed to put some steel into Tory local councillors.

I cant understand why you want "the dissedents" o be forgiven for actions in the laast couple of years but are unprepared to forgive the much more effective K Clarke for actions he did 15 years ago. It doesnt make sense.

Unless of course its because the "dissedents" are "people like us"on the right while KC is not. If thats the reason why dont you just say so%Pr

Nobody is more important than David Davis. He MUST be brought back, right away.

I'd like John Redwood in too (but I do try not to play with sharp objects...)

Ken Clarke should be back in if, and only if, he agrees to keep his Euro-views to debate inside the party and not for soundbites and journalists.. Since I doubt he will agree to that, he probably can't be allowed back in.

Finally, I'd love to see Douglas Carswell in the Shadow Cabinet.

There Must be changes at the top, If this shadow cabinet was doing it job properly Brown and his government would be down and out by now, the mess is of their making, Cheap credit, lack of controls over spending all around.

So what to change?

Osborne must go, he has become a sitting duck (he was referred to as ‘Little Georgy Osborne on Sunday night radio), replace his with Redwood,.

Bring back David Davies, to the home office, defence or a civil liberties brief and tell him to go after the government over any reduction in our hard won liberties

Put Clarke into the House of Lords to shadow ‘Mandy’, simple orders ‘Destroy him’.

Give Mercer the defence brief, as an ex-service man he knows about the problems caused by lack of equipment, etc.

Tell the shadow cabinet to attack come what may. Any one who is unwilling to or unable should be out. The election should be one by now

If David Davis is not brought back to be Shadow Home Secretary, it would be astonishing. Davis is clearly the best man for that role. Has anyone got a reason why he wouldn't be suitable for that role?

Nick Hurd - great man with vast private sector experience.

No to Ken Clarke, because of his EU opinions. He's very effective where he is.

No to David Davis - he is superb but it's too early to bring him back. Grieve is doing a good job.

Hague as Shadow Chancellor and Osbourne as Party Chairman.

Ken Clarke's so called EU opinions are utterly irrelevant. We are in Opposition.

>>>If David Davis is not brought back to be Shadow Home Secretary, it would be astonishing. Davis is clearly the best man for that role. Has anyone got a reason why he wouldn't be suitable for that role?

Yes, he might spontaneously resign again.

It seems many do not realise what a critical position we are in as a country and how much we need to win as a party. Bringing Clarke back as Shadow Chancellor would help to ensure that we do - nothing should be allowed to override this.

Seems to me the problem is that the role of Chairman doesn't give lots of opportunity for getting a high profile as hardly anyone in the real world is interested in the internal workings of political parties. Caroline is a steady, likeable and measured media performer when she gets the opportunity and she connects well with non-political women who warm to her style. The main case for moving her as Chairman would be if she got a role which gave her more media opportunities.

I don't know what DD was like behind the scenes but on his feet in the house I never felt happy he was going to win the argument, I never felt confident that he was up to it, he splutters a lot and really words do not come easily to him, and in that job it is important.
I think the ganging up against Osborne is childish, he did a good explanation of the trap he was in, and he should be given the benefit of the doubt. I think he is clever, you might not like how he does things, but the brain is certainly there and functioning. I don't think KC would win an intellectual bout with him.

unfortunately Carswell lost all credibility with many after this absurd article:
http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2008/11/stick-to-your-g.html

Gwendolyn 14:20 -

You have got to be joking? Ken Clarke wouldn't win an intellectual bout with George Osborne? In what strange world?

Listen, I'm not one of the "get rid of Osborne" brigade, but mostly because I think the opposition would use it against us and because I think the "team" is more important than the individual members.

I think Mr. Osborne is good and appeals to a certain demographic.

But in debate, Ken Clarke would trash him in very short order indeed. Of that I am absolutely sure.

Ken Clarke would offer generational balance to the senior section of the shadow cabinet, particularly as the election approaches. He also offers a confident, yet not strident, opposition to Labour on economic policy, which is his particular strength.

The reality is that, on economic and business strategy, the Party is weak and neither Osborne or Duncan are strong enough politically to launch credible attacks on Labour that stick.

Ken Clarke would be part of a powerful triumberate, with Cameron and Hague, who would be the powerful and visible face of the party - offering a combination of youth and experience; change and expertise: a full package that might just convince a questioning public that we are serious about taking office again.

anon at 14:33 :-

Thanks for the link to that article. I can't really see why you think its 'absurd'. It's a perfectly reasonable view, well stated and clear.

You may not agree with it, but he argues his case clearly and concisely. If we all said the same thing on every issue (which we obviously don't) what would be the point of discussion and debate?

And even if you didn't like that very brief post, surely you don't think it overrides his excellent work on "The Plan" or the rest of his work?

If you let a persons differing opinion in one instance cause you to think they have lost 'all credibility' then I imagine you would struggle to retain respect in any politician?

There is a reason why Labour were out of Government for eighteen years, they had shown they were not up to the job. After twelve years of Blair and Brown, we now realise that analysis is indeed as correct today as it was then.

In 1979 the Labour government had lost control of the economy, law and order and was stumbling blindly on running the country into hitherto unimaginable debt, the Conservatives had direction, and, like her or loathe her, a leader with vision, with a competent team of well known politicians behind her. The Tories enjoyed a substantial lead in the pre-election polls.

Thirty years on, what has changed? Well, the Labour government had lost control of the economy, law and order and is stumbling blindly on running the country into hitherto unimaginable debt, much worse than in 1979. The Conservatives seem to have no direction, led by a man who has yet to show why he should be trusted by the people, leading a bunch of barely known and faceless MPs. At a point where we should be +30% in the lead we are instead around 5%. Many members and former supporters do not trust him, people such as myself, who have never voted anything other than Tory in almost forty years cannot bring themselves to vote for this Party.

I have campaigned and canvassed in every election since the 1970’s, I used to get so frustrated by people who blythly said that they didn’t vote “as politicians are all the same”. How right they were and how wrong I was. It truly saddens me that we have disenfranchised our core vote in exactly the same way that Blair did with the New Labour project.

As we had Blair’s babes, we have Cameron’s A-list of no-hopers and nonentities forced upon constituencies, against their wishes, some selected by ‘public forums’ which effectively means Labour voters could decide the Tory candidate, how mad is that?

A re-shuffle of the cabinet is clearly not enough. We could quite easily be fighting a general election in the spring, and we have no ‘big names’ that inspire confidence other than William Hague. Cameron has failed in this. Ask the man on the Clapham Omnibus to name four members of the shadow cabinet and I doubt they will be able to get past Cameron, (because he is leader of the party), Hague, (because he was leader of the party and has gravitas) and Osborn, because of an unfortunate incident on an oligarch’s yacht.

The shadow ministers need to be in place long before the election, so they are known to the public. They should be of sufficient calibre to have earnt the appointment, not of a standard that they get moved on when their inadequacies are found out.

Let’s prepare for another term in opposition. The Conservative party has let the country down by not offering a strong opposition to a Government that has squandered the rich legacy left to it by the Conservative Government of the 1980’s. We simply don’t deserve to win.


Those who say that the Party Chairman has a dual role are absolutely right! Not only should the Chairman be someone to rally the troops - something where Mr Pickles would excel - but they ARE the Chairman of the Party Organisation so an organiser and motivator of people in a business setting is called for. This is something that Jeremy Hunt would do superbly. Jeremy has been a successful businessman and I know from my own experience at a local level how good he is at team-building, goal planning, strategy and motivation! He is a genuine people-person and gets on with everyone. He would not, I think, be someone who would ever fall foul of any internecine warfare.

If Ken must come back, and I am not a fan, then why not send him to the Lords to shadow Mandy?

Socialconservative@11.09 - I think you have listed two very strong reasons for bringing Mr. Clarke back.

Ken Clarke as Business Spokesman would take on Mandy very effectively indeed while IDS has the ideas to help the poor that he could sell to the voters as Welfare Shadow Secretary. Chris Grayling would be an effective Party Chairman who has the skills to sell the message & menace Labour.

Theresa Villiers has been getting us good headlines for environmentalism and so could be Shadow Environment Secretary with a brief to win over Lib Dem voters by pushing our green agenda. Owen Paterson has been excellent at Northern Ireland and so has the talent to excel as Shadow Transport Secretary - a well deserved promotion. Eleanor Laing was fine as Shadow Scottish Secretary & can be so again. As a pro-unity act of forgiveness Patrick Mercer could be Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary - with his talents he deserves promotion. He could certainly wipe the floor with Shaun Woodward.

Dr Liam Fox can be fine as Shadow Commons Leader to do Harriet Harman serious damage by championing the ability of MP's to hold ministers to account. Sir Malcolm Rifkind would be fine as Cabinet Office Spokesman who with his great experience could prepare the Tories for office. He knows Whitehall well and would have a shrewd knowledge of how quickly we could deliver on pledges.

Andrew Mackay was a first class Deputy Chief Whip in John Major's last year when we never lost a vote on the floor of the Commons. He would be great as Opposition Chief Whip owing to his political skills and his close relationship with the leader.

Lord Trimble knows all about security issues and has the maturity & gravitas to be an excellent Shadow Defense Secretary. He could speak with feeling about being betrayed by Labour - which the armed forces have been. He loves & values the British Army and would champion them excellently.

Angela Watkinson has been very hardworking as an MP since retaking Upminster from Labour in 2001 and has wise views on health ( just read the booklet that she co-wrote with John Redwood). She has been a Shadow Public Services Minister and so has the experience to take on Labour on health - she ought to be Shadow Health Secretary on merit.

Damien Green has been an excellent Shadow Education Secretary under IDS and so could do a first rate job at Universities & Skills. John Redwood could write the Manifesto as he has the wisdom to devise vote winning policies. Justine Greening is an articulate & effective politician who could speak with feeling on International Development in a way that voters & charities would like. A modern Tory speaking on fighting global poverty could help prise away voters from the Liberal Democrats.

This would be a great reshuffle - we need a stronger team to exploit Labour's failings and offer a vote winning alternative.

Some interesting thoughts here, Matthew but why not put Patrick Mercer back into his old job of looking after Homeland Security (an awful term by the way - American rather than British!) which is an area that has been woefully neglected since his enforced departure, and give Lord Trimble the Northern Ireland brief?

I think that Sally is absolutely correct, not only in her two specific suggestions, but more importantly in establishing the principle of suggesting people for posts for which their experience and talents are ideally suited.

In my view, DD was very good as Home Secretary (compare and contrast with the present incumbent) and should go back there, Dominic Grieve should return to Justice, IDS to a new post of Social Regeneration, Sir Malcolm Rifkind to Leader of the House, KC/JR/M Fallon to Chancellor (and one of the others to Yvette Cooper's job - and George Osborne should be given the job of organising all aspect of the party to win the election.

The sooner we get the 1st Xl out on the field the better - time could be shorter than we think!

steve tierney - it's not his differing opinion i have an issue with, i have a lot of time for douglas on the issues i agree and disagree with him on, though on this one, i do wholeheartedly disagree.

what i have a problem with is the way he implies that a grassroots organisation is some sort of corporate conspiracy - a bizarrly cynical attitude for an MP.

If we leave Ken Clark out,we Conservatives will win,putting him in, is just asking for it.Many voters see him as the dreaded Conservative's representative of the EU monster they all hate.
Send him to the Lords or just leave him in situ is best I believe as he could bring us trouble,bigtime.

"Bring back people like Davis, Redwood and IDS and the leadership will prove that it really as turned to the right.
If David Cameron as sense he will try to make the front bench look more like Britain and not like a debating society in a English Public School."

Draper-Stone, remind me which public schools the Great DD attended?


"If we leave Ken Clark out,we Conservatives will win,putting him in, is just asking for it.Many voters see him as the dreaded Conservative's representative of the EU monster they all hate.
Send him to the Lords or just leave him in situ is best I believe as he could bring us trouble,bigtime."

Quite right, R.B.

Regardless of what has now appeared on another thread in the form of an Evening Standard leak, namely Caroline Spelman's apparent exoneration, it's a sad fact that we have had six wasted months with a lame duck Chairman who simply does not inspire. Just to repeat a local example that I posted previously, in 2007 South Staffs and Wolverhampton packed out the Molineux banqueting suite for a summer function when Boris was guest of honour. In 2008, with CS scheduled to appear, the event was cancelled due to lack of interest. Over and above this, the principle "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion" still applies equally now IMHO as it did then. Time (not before time?) for her to step aside and make way for either of the two suggested replacements.

Do some of you people ever stop to think how the Tories' inner clique look to the floating voter?

Spelperson (a very rich woman, it appears) invariably sounds like a poh-faced geography teacher. It is hard to tell if she is better than Maude, but then could she have been worse?

Talking of types like Maude, Jeremy Hunt may have many qualities but is yet another independently-wealthy, public school-educated PPE graduate who seems thoroughly content with the cosy way the Westminster establishment runs. Somehow I don't sense that the credit crunch will be affecting him too much.

"we have had six wasted months with a lame duck Chairman who simply does not inspire.

Posted by: David Cooper"

It's worse than that, David.

David Davis should NEVER be brought back to the front bench. It would be a disastrous mistake. People who go out of their way to prove their disloyalty should be allowed their just deserts.

On balance, I'm afraid I have to agree with Tim on Clarke. It's too bad because he really would be extremely useful but he's just too stubborn on Europe, when we're finally united on it.

The problem is the same as it has always been: there just isn't enough talent to work with it. Cameron really needs to find some talented people, and by that I mean politicians of sufficient gravitas and experience that can march straight into the Cabinet and perform well, and A) parachute them into safe seats and B) appoint some to the Lords because, largely as a result of the implosion in 1997 and the abysmal results in 2001, there simply isn't enough man power on the Tory benches. . .

Agree on Mr Pickles - would be a great choice.

I find the offensive tripe about Ken Clarke quite sickening. The man was probably the most (only?) successful minister in the Major government. I don't agree with him on the Euro, but he has as much right as anyone to his opinions, as long as he maintains the party line whilst a member of the shadow cabinet. If we are however saying that MP's should not be allowed to be ministers if they disagree with party policy, then that rules out people like: Thatcher, Redwood, Churchill to name but a few!

Come to think of it Churchill actually changed sodding parties!!!

And he looks a bit like Ken too.

Why just blog?

I have voted online about the EU at www.FreeEurope.info.

I voted YES to Free Europe Constitution

There is no way that Cameron will get rid of Osborne - they are too close and it will look and play into the govt's hands. Osborne gave a brilliant performance over the PBR and I think the Corfugate saga has given him a much needed reality check. He still smacks of the arrogant public school boy but that is fading.
Harking back to these old timers is depressing. Cameron has spent the last few years detoxifying us and showing that we're not the same old Tories and bringing back Clarke, Redwood etc would totally undo that. Also, bringing in senior figures who have effectively played out their careers is dangerous. They have no reason to be loyal or toe the line and so can cause havoc at the most critical moments and from the most intrinsic positions.
The reshuffle should be limited. keep those who are doing well at their briefs as those relationshops and that experience is going to vital. So no move for Gove, Grayling, May, Fox, Hunt (not chairman material - too flaky), Shapps. But make Pickles chairman and in my view get rid of Spelman as she is useless and broken by the last few months.

Oh and add Nick herbert to the list of people who should stay put. He is doing a great job.

At first I was sad to see that David Davis was not included, but then some of you included him in your comments. I understand the arguements for and against, but many times I have read here that a vote for UKIP is a vote for Labour. David Davis touched alot of people, even if some in the conservative party didn't like what he did, many people admire him for taking a stand. Why? Because we cannot. You want to win a majority government? Reach as many people as possible, I know it's hard, but it can be done if people lay aside some of their personal likes/dislikes. Give the country many reasons to vote Conservative. The message of UKIP isn't only the EU message but the deeper meaning behind it, ie the ever increasing number of laws in this country which are choking our liberties. I for one do agree with the Conservative EU stand, if it is possible that is and I am yet to be convinced it is, ie in Europe but not ruled by Europe. All these things are nice to hear, but how will the Conservatives make these things happen. People need to have faith that someone in government is championing their rights.
I do agree bring back Ken and I think he should have George's job. Not against George, I just think Ken could do a better job as he has the experience we need in the current troubles or as someone said, give two people that possition. Goodness knows we may need an Exchequer army to sort out the mess this country is in.

As a staunch euro-skeptic, a while ago I'd have said absolute NO to Ken Clarke getting even a sniff of a front bench job. Now I'm not so sure. Mandelson sitting in the Lords offers a big opportunity. Offer Clarke a peerage and put him opposite Mandelson. At one stroke, you bolster the reputation of your front bench team, counter the 'grandee' effect of Mandelson's appointment, add a genuinely brilliant Shadow Minister, but also nip in the bud any lingering leadership ambitions or 'significance' that Clarke has whilst in the commons, promoting him and effectively pensioning him off at the same time. And I doubt he'd object either -how long does he want to go on standing for election? He can go into the Lords as a front bencher rather than an old has-been.

I would also like to see Redwood given a junior role in the Shadow Treasury team, to bolster Osborne, but not put him in the shade, as a big character like Clarke would have done. Redwood would be a genuine asset to the team, and further evidence that Cameron intends to govern.

Of course, Davis must return. To the Home Office, much as I like Dominic Grieve, he has made zero impact in the role. Let Davis come back and claim another scalp.

No Patrick Mercer please. He is an awful man, and the sooner he gets out of politics the better.

Tim - have you ever asked Sir John M about whether or not he felt his government was in your words "held to ransom" by Ken Clarke. I think he would disagree, and it was HIS government. Ask him about the saintly IDS on the other hand...

Lord knows KC has his faults. However, it is worth remembering that amongst NORMAL HUMAN BEINGS- who don't read, let alone make comments on this august website- Ken Clarke's appearances, over the last three months in particular, have resonated well, and for punters who are otherwise still unsure of our economic competance he has been an asset.

Perhaps luckily, your Average Joe thinks Ken HAS a job on the frontbench already. Those that do know he is on the backbenches think he ought to have role, and have very little time for all the sniping and vitriol above.

Bring back David Davis, John Redwood and Ken Clark.

As for most of the rest mentioned here, frankly, I do not know who they are- hardly shadow cabinet material therefore.

Davis - yes. A big beast who must return.
Graham Brady - yes. Young, able, good on the media and has been working hard on the Treasury Committee alongside Fallon plus he's a northerner and not another public schoolboy.
Patrick Mercer - lots of experience but may have burnt his boats with the leadership.
Ken Clarke - difficult for all sorts of reasons; if he was put in the business brief he would inevitably become our chief economic spokesman. Can't see George agreeing to that one!

I thought I had posted before but it doesn't seem to be here.

I was against Ken Clarke initially, but now I think it would be perfect for him to be elevated to the Peerage to oppose Mandelson -promoting him and giving him a challenge and a prominent opponent to chew on, strengthening the Tory front bench team, but yet making him LESS of a threat to Osborne and the future of the party due to being in the Lords. It is brilliance. Remember, however awful his performance, Gordon was not stupid enough to replace Alastair Darling with Mandelson -it would have been a huge admission of defeat. It's the same with Osborne -he has become totemic, whatever his performance. I also worry that in the unthinkable event of a Tory defeat, a back-bench 'I told you so' Clarke is much worse than one who was involved with the campaign.

Davis must be put back as Home Sec. End.

I would bring Redwood in as a junior member of the Treasury team. An excellent economic thinker, but not such a star media performer that he would put Osborne in the shade.

No Quentin Davis please. He was first elected off the back of a smear campaign which probably hastened his Labour opponent drinking herself to death.

I can see some here being seduced by the media savvy Clarke but his views on the eu and his divise effect in the party are simply too great a burden for us to bear; his potential to open up the cracks is all too real.

I cannot see how someone who wants to join the euro which actually means giving away what little of our sovereignty remains can be of benefit to this party even as an MP.

At some stage we have to get real as further eu integration (constitution/lisbon) leaves (in the longer term - look at the ratchet) the government in Westminster virtually powerless.

If we want to run a country then we need shadow cabinet members who believe in this country.

Whoops line two should read divisive!

Richard Bacon surely deserves a Treasury job?

I agree with everything the Editor says about the personalities he mentions, including that bringing back Ken Clarke to the Shadow Cabinet would be huge huge mistake. It would delight Labour and the BBC who'd be forever looking for splits and disagreements over the EU. Here we were reminded that Ken Clarke attempted to sabotage William Hague's 'Save the pound' campaign in the late 1990s, only recently attacked David Cameron's human rights Bill as "xenophobic" and opposes leaving the EPP as a "head-banging" policy. How can he be anything other than disruptive and undermining of Mr Cameron’s leadership and our chances? It would surely be back to the bad old days of division!

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