Conservative Diary

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David Cameron's team is not so much The West Wing as an episode of Friends

Friends&WestWing That is the snappy conclusion of Rachel Sylvester in this morning's Times in a piece in which she considers how a political leader's greatest strength can become their biggest weakness. For David Cameron, this is his "close-knit circle of friends and advisers" which she asserts has the potential to become seen as "a privileged clique".

In politics, as in any walk of life, the people whom you trust the most are likely to be those whom you have known the longest. So on one level, I cannot and do not blame David Cameron for seeking to surround himself with a number of those to whom he has been close for a long time.

And whilst several "outsiders" such as Michael Gove, William Hague and Andy Coulson have penetrated David Cameron's inner circle, a considerable number of his aides and confidants are long-standing friends from Eton, Oxford, the Conservative Research Department or West London (or all of the above).

But as Rachel Sylvester points out, there is increasing concern that decisions are taken without sufficient formal consultation and that the close-knit nature of the party leader's inner circle is resented by some, not least because 

"its members are wealthier than most MPs, who are feeling the pinch after paying back some of their expenses".

Rather like Tim indicated in this post last night, when he called for the talents of a number of former frontbenchers to be recognised, breadth is arguably as important as depth when it comes to a party leader's "kitchen cabinet" as well.

Jonathan Isaby


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