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With the appointment of Jacqui Smith it would be very useful to have a woman in the senior ranks of the Tory shadow cabinet. That is why Caroline Spelman would be an excellent appointment.

Surely with departments being reorganised (e.g. Education being split) there is scope for promoting new talent (men or women) into jobs which didn't previously exist, without the need for tokenism at CCHQ... (not that I have a strong opinion either way on Caroline Spelman).

Please appoint Caroline Spelman. There is not enough decent comedy on TV these days.

The Editor's comments on Ms Spelman are perceptive. She is just another Theresa May - earnest, dull and PC.

Chris Grayling, who had lots of ambition but no charisma, would be a poor choice as an alternative. He has produced little policy on transport in the last year or so. The little policy that has emerged, e,g. on railways, lacked intellectual substance.

My choice would Eric Pickles. He works hard, has a good sense of humour, is good on television and is respected across the Party.

For once I have sympathy with what you write, Reality check. Eric Pickles would also be an excellent choice.

I think some of the comments are unfair. On several occasions, I've been very impressed by Caroline Spelman who seems cool-headed, clear-thinking and down-to-earth -- this quite aside from tokenism (and the comparison to Theresa May is unfair as May has never come across to me as remotely down-to-earth). Grayling seems grey and dull to me -- someone you'd want tackling the nuts and bolts of transport, but maybe not an inspirational chairman and media front-man. The Editor will know the internal mechanisms of the party infinitely better than I do, and I trust his assessments here, but from my much more distant perch, I'd be quite happy to see a Caroline Spelman chairmanship.

Hope Francis stays on - he's done a good job as Party Chairman.

Tim - don't worry, it is the other Reality check - the one with a capital R.

Justin Hinchcliffe:Hope Francis stays on - he's done a good job as Party Chairman.

I'd start clearing your desk now, Francis.

I think that Eric Pickles deserved to be promoted highly and could actually be quite a good Party Chairman- however I do still want Francis Maude to remain in that job. Caroline Spellman again should be promoted but not into the role of Party Chairman.

I am an ordinary party member of long standing. What we need is Chairman who can get out the famous bell, ring it loud, clear and often and tell everyone that the election is there to be won.

What a pity we no longer have a Macleod or a Hailsham in our ranks

Party Chairmen need to be tough and ruthless ( for me Tebbitt was the best there's ever been )with huge gifts for administration and man management.Does Caroline Spelman have these qualities? She seems to nice to me.

What do we need from a Chairman?

1. A full time Leader of CCHQ.
2. A Chairman able to drive all the regional organisations etc.
3. A public face of the party.

Look at the Lib Dems. They do have an MP as their Chairman (Simon Hughes) but they also have a full time CEO who is not an MP (Rennard) to run their HQ and regional organisations.

Francis compounds the problem with his outside interests, but the lack of a CEO dooms him to failure.

If a full time CEO is appointed then we would give an MP a chance to be an effective Chairman. The core of the problem is mainly structural.

HF: You are on the money with your spotlighting of Maude's outside interests. We have too many part-timers in the top team. Maude, Letwin and Hague are all too distracted by making money. They are too econo-centric to use Olly's expression!

Iain Dale is just a David Davis mouthpiece and doesn't have much of an insider view (explaining why he keeps advocating promotion for the Davis-ite Grieve who seems to have such trouble keeping within the party line and would likely kill the party's prospects within months).

Umbrella Man yes Maude has hampered his effectiveness because of his outside interests and the policy balls that have been dropped could be explained if Letwin is only a part timer.

That said the real problem is the lack of a full time (non MP) CEO. None of us would invest in a Company run by a part time Chairman with no CEO. It would also breach Corporate Governance principles!

James Hill, does the party really have a line? I thought they were just making it up as they went along?

I cannot say that Caroline Spelman would make a good party Chairman. Francis Maude has good scapegoat qualities, and should be used more frequently to take the brunt of grassroots displeasure.

Think I agree with that HF. If Maude is to be replaced, I'm not sure Caroline Spelman is the best candidate. I still think Chris Grayling is a good candidate for the job with his attack dog history.

Under NO circumstances should Grayling be put into the Party Chair position. He's too good. I'd stick with Boris - with help from a couple of new MP's- Vara , Dorries, and possibly Vaizey ( through gritted teeth).

Cameron is right to want to appoint a female chair, but not Caroline Spellman. Nadien Dorries would be a brilliant chioce, very warm, human, kind and gorgeous, fantastic blog - or Anne Milton, both ex nurses i think.

Replacing Francis Maude now would go a long way to dealing with unhappiness at grassroots level. I would sooner have have Spellman than Grayling (who?) but Pickles could be an interesting and charismatic figure provided he makes the effort to engage the voluntary party rather than treat us like a tiresome problem.

"Please appoint Caroline Spelman. There is not enough decent comedy on TV these days."

Two words. Hazel Blears.

I quite agree with Nadine Dorries, for the same reasons as pointed out by Westminster Watcher.

I agree with hf about a chief executive - we need a really well run, well oiled machinery at CCHQ and that requires a full time CEO. The Chairman can then concentrate on rallying the troops...

I have a question mark over Caroline Spelman. Has she really delivered any significant opposition to Ruth Kelly and Yvette Cooper over the last few years? She really hasn't had a high profile on some signifcant issues.

Chief execs can pose a problem - look at David prior, Barry Legg and Mark macGregor. the problme at the moment is george Bridges who naturally fills vacuums and is a control freak is effectively acting as CEO.

Maude has beena dismal failure - and as a public school oxbridge educated, City career, thatcherite Minister, son of a former tory Minister, finger in lots of outside interests - is an embodiment of everything he claims he is trying to remove from the Tory Party.

if he really had principles he would stand down from parliament.

Whatever CCHQ decide to do, Francis Maude's record speaks for itself. Under him the party has led in the opinion polls as he's enacted Cameron's reforms; donations have soared; local elections were outstanding; WebCameron makes us the only major party with a serious presence on the internet.

He has done an excellent job by any objective measurement of results, and a successor would have much to live up to.

If five people at CCHQ were allegedly horrified at the prospect of Spelman becoming Chairman it seems she's obviously doing something right already! She needs a position which gives her more media profile - she is likeable and plausible and that's not a common quality in the Tories.

Rosario, it is about choosing a full time CEO who is focused on running the organisation.

1. David Prior was an MP and CEO, not a full time CEO.
2. Barry Legg had too much political baggage.
3. As to Mark Macgregor...he was clearly distracted with IDS matters. Not what a CEO should do.

There is nothing for Cameron to "reshuffle". He doesn't have any cards. The ranks are very thin, especially at the most senior levels. Cameron should leave the team pretty much intact, although I do think Maude and Letwin ought to go. But we musn't forget that after the dire results of the 2001 election in particular, there just aren't that many talented senior Tories left in the parliamentary party (plenty of younger talent but few in the crucial 45-55 range). That should be a major selection criterion for new MPs. They can't all be fresh-faced. If he is really to form a new government, several cabinet ministers and other ministers will have to come from the ranks of the new intake of MPs.

Nice to see Caroline Spelman being undermined before she has even been appointed (if she is to be appointed).

Also, under the desired criteria you list for prospective chairmen (warmth, authority, ruthlessness, charisma), Chris Grayling is arguably no more suited to the role than Caroline Spelman.

He's always struck me as competent and dependable but rather dull and uninspiring - a sort of Iain Duncan Smith v2.0 (without the charisma) if you like.

I'm not generally a fan of Alan Duncan, but he would be an interesting choice.

Nadine Dorries MP would be a good choice, she combines both experience of business, as well as a background in one of the caring professions as an ex nurse. Combined with her natural charm and approachable manner (must be because she is a Liverpudlian) she would be an instant signal that the Conservative Party is really changing.

Eric Pickles would be a very good choice

George Osborne should be considered too -- a proven campaigner and someone that DC can trust with his political life.

Caroline Spelman has done a good job with that mish-mash of a brief: DCLG.

Promote her to the childrens and schools brief.

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