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Willetts gets family policy role in sign that his star is rising again

CCHQ has just issued this statement:

“David Cameron has asked David Willetts to continue in the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills, with special responsibility for family policy. David will lead a Front Bench team which will shadow skills and universities, supported by Shadow Ministers John Hayes and David Evennett. David Cameron has also asked David Willetts to lead for the party on family policy and social mobility, reflecting the Party's commitment to strengthening families as a powerful route to spreading opportunity. Shadow Minister for the Family Maria Miller will join David Willetts’ Frontbench team. Adam Afriyie, Shadow Minister for Innovation, will move to Ken Clarke’s Frontbench team.”

Mr Willetts lost a ministry to shadow last Friday after Gordon Brown abolished the Department for Universities etc just two years after creating it.  A severe case of reshuffle-itis.

WILLETTS-AT-KENWARD-TRUST The new arrangement will see David Willetts retain most of his Universities brief but, most interestingly, he'll now take responsibility for leading on family policy.  That's a big feather in David Willetts' cap as family policy is one of the Conservative leader's primary themes.  The role which also includes a mandate to look at social mobility - an unallocated responsibility since David Davis left the shadow cabinet - is a round-peg-in-a-round-hole job for David Willetts.  He has long been interested in the subject and, with Oliver Letwin and David Lidington, oversaw the Renewing One Nation unit at Conservative HQ from 2000 onwards (the photo above is of David Willetts visiting a centre for tackling addiction).  'R1N' (of which I was executive director) was the predecessor organisation to the Centre for Social Justice.  David Willetts has long believed in a conservatism of small platoons and a concern for the poor.  I may not agree with David Willetts on grammar schools but I'm delighted he has this new job and wish him well in it.  It's great that John Hayes MP will be working alongside him.  John's thinking on 'the home' as an emblem for conservatism will make him an ideal number two.

Tim Montgomerie


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