Conservative Diary

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Minister of 2010

George Osborne Budget Day square Jonathan Isaby's pick: The accolade for minister of the year surely has to go to the man who has made a successful start in taking charge of the effort to clear up Labour's economic mess. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne delivered within fifty days of taking office - as promised - an emergency budget focused on tacking the deficit and there then followed in October his Comprehensive Spending Review. Good Chancellors in difficult economic times are unlikely to win many popularity contests - and as the cuts begin to bite next year, he will need to hold his nerve - but the initial signs are that his actions will hold the economy in good stead in the medium to long term.   

Tim Montgomerie's pick: I'm almost inclined to nominate IDS. His welfare reforms are this government's most exciting project but I have to agree with Jonathan; George Osborne was the minister of 2010. The whole government runs to his timetable. The Emergency Budget... The Comprehensive Spending Review... Next year's 'Budget for Growth'... The Treasury is as powerful as ever under a man that Labour and the media have constantly underestimated.  Up until now he's not done enough on growth - he needs to rectify that. His other mistake - forced on him by Liberal Democrats - was not to frontload the cuts. This means cuts as big as year one will still be necessary in year four (the pre-election year). But, alongside David Cameron, Osborne remains this government's most important figure. If he succeeds in rebooting the economy, the whole government succeeds. Simples. The Chancellor has assembled a loyal team at least as able as the PM's own. It is no longer impossible to imagine Mr Osborne as Cameron's successor.

Eric Pickles cheerful Paul Goodman's pick: "It had to be you/it had to be you./I wandered around, and finally found/The somebody who/Could make me be true,/And could make me be blue/And even be glad,/just to be sad/Thinking of you."

There's no competition.  For getting things done, with the help of an able Ministerial team and the one and only Sheridan Westlake, it has to be Eric Pickles - the one politician who's been even better this year than his own publicity.

"Some others I've seen,/Might never be mean./Might never be cross,/Or try to be boss/But they wouldn't do/.For nobody else, gave me a thrill./With all your faults, I love you still/It had to be you, wonderful you,/It had to be you."

Picture 7 Harry Phibbs' pick: Oliver Letwin was a crucial architect of the Coalition Government. He combines tremendous courtesy and generosity of spirit with a limitless fascination with ideas and policies. During the negotiations with the Lib Dems he understood their policies better than they did. As a Minister, Letwin has a vital task of sweeping away the bureaucracy that chokes off the Big Society.


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