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He is a phenomenal tactician, and would be an extrememly good Chairman - bringing more power to that role than for many a long year. However, he's also been very effective as Shadow Chancellor, initiated our recent recovery and DC can also trust him implicitly. A pretty key person to have around, and he's probably earned the right to fight the good fight from whatever role he'd prefer.

It would be a massive error to appoint someone to the post of Chairman on the basis that they interview well and combatively on TV. The party needs a good backroom Chairman who can get on with sorting out the party structure and activist base in the country. Caroline Spelman should be kept where she is. Let the Shadow Ministers make the running on attacking Labour.

Noone knows who is in charge in CCHQ. It's all been very unclear since Francis left. I have no strong opinion about George Osborne but I do think we need one person who oversees all campaigning and staffing and everything else. Lynton Crosby did that last time. Who will be the new Lynton?

Completely agree about Lidington, I've spoken to him on about a number of foreign policy issues and he always has a very good understanding of them. His experience in Northern Ireland must have taught him a lesson or two about conflicts, community cohesion and terrorism. He's also someone who would really throw himself into the role unlike more recent shadow foreign secs....

I do not know why Osborne gets the credit for the IHT thing.

It was obvious that cutting IHT was a vote winner for yonks.

I cite the Express's campaign and John Redwood's policy group conclusions and Taxpayer alliance opinion poll research.

He looks like a boy.

We need a bank manager figure as our candidate to oversee the nation's finances.

Mr O made a massive mistake with his pledge to match Labour on spending.

Okay: make him Chairman but one success should not be an excuse for keeping him as shadow chancellor.

I haven't agreed with any of your three ideas yet Tim!!!!

Can't see Osbourne agreeing to that change. I don't know why Francis Maude had to be moved from CCHQ. Seemed to be doing a good job. Much better than Caroline Spelman who appears to be totally unsuited to the role.

Just a personal view-could we please stop using the phrase 'Chicken Saturday'? It's extremely childish and really doesn't make the point you think it does.

A bad idea. Osborne has just become successfully established as Shadow Chancellor, moving him would be a very bad idea.

The top 3 jobs should remain unchanged from now until election day.

I have been one of George Osborne's persistent critics in the past but I am very much happier with his performance since he started to mix it with the government.
I agree very largely with Tim, one that there should only be one person in charge as chairman (the present setup is a nonsense), secondly that George Osborne might just be the best person for that vital job and thirdly that I would love William Hague to be shadow chancellor but I also think that John Redwood has the necessary background to be a very good one as well. His talents should be used in our next goevernment.

I agree with most of this. George Osborne would be an excellent party chairman. We need to be serious about winning so William Hague needs to put the party before his outside interests, and become shadow chancellor.

As for shadow foriegn secretary, I would go for Andrew Mitchell.

you are all talking a load of tosh. CCHQ is actually performing better than it ever has and while not a perfect structure it is really starting to work

I agree to the extent that I think Osborne should only have one job. whether it be Shadow Chancellor or Election Co ordinator I'm not sure because I think Osborne has enjoyed some success in both roles.Both jobs are too big for a part time role however talented the individual concerned. Also agree that Caroline Spelman should be replaced as soon as possible. She is an invisible chairman which is no use at all.

I didn't hear the interview but did catch a bit on the radio, here I was surprised it wasn't an objective of the Conservatives to not only show up Alexander as incompetent, but tar the whole Labour party as one who are dragging us down to the status of a Banana republic, for they have a great deal of form in staging elections which go bad. They excluded our troops from an election with their meddling, and staged one of the most shameful election debacles with postal voting shambles, which was described as one that would have shamed a banana republic.

Ummm its a thought provoking thread, and I find the various posts confusing also. Perhaps David Belchamber's post @ 21.36 seems the most practical.

I think it is perhaps a shame to change George Osborne's job just as he may have registered with the man in the street a bit, and Chairman of the party seems to be a role which fades into the background. I think it is important for newer younger people to get in the media so that they become more familiar to the public at large - the election is in the future, and they are the future, people like Kenneth Clarke are the past.

Donm't know why Francis Maude was moved from CCHQ?

Are you serious?

Arrogant, lazy, centralising power-freak who hated the Party activists and sneered at the campaigning done in constituencies.

Under his reign we picked a Labour supporting cardboard cut-out for an important by-election cos CCHQ always knows best - and watched as their hand picked boy fell apart during the campaign.

Caroline Spelman - whom I originally disliked - has proved herself to be in touch with the Party, likes and understands the vounteers and is quietly getting on with repairing the damage done by Maude - who by the way can't seem hold a Council seat in his own Constituency and has put his Labour Opponent onto our A List and into a marginal...

As for Osborne, time will tell, but I would need to see more of him before I am convinced...

Well said Treacle.

Totally agree, Tim. CS is fairly useless. Let's bring Julie Kirbride back to the team!

George Osborne is more effective in the media as Shadow Chancellor than he would be as Chairman - as the Fightback showed its the Economy that is the main battleground, with Policing, Health, Education and Immigration supporting. He doesn't appear overstretched.
As for CCHQ - pretty clear roles I'd of thought with Spellman responsible for party admin & organisation, Ashcroft and co organising the marginals and George bringing together the messages with Shadow Cabinet , mention also Letwin who did a great job putting the policy group output into a draft manifesto over the summer.

Concur with David Belchamber @ 21.36. The IHT triumph would enable George Osborne to leave for the Chairman's role on a high note, and who better than John Redwood to become Shadow Chancellor? Not just conviction on the taxation and government waste issues that we now know to be election winners, but the sheer pleasure of seeing him shredding Alastair Darling on a weekly basis.

Why do we have to try and fix things that aren't broken, but in fact seem to be working effectively?
Its takes ages for politicians in the shadow cabinet, other than the leader, to filter into the public's mind.
George Osborne has now established himself in the voters minds as the possible future Chancellor of the Exchequer, just as Davis, Hague, Fox and Langsley etc have in their departments with the recent media attention on all of them.
Whats more important, they all seem to have grown in stature in their present positions, and fit comfortable into the mould of a government in waiting. I have never felt this confident about a Conservative team in many a year.
As for Caroline Spelman as chairman, as long as she is instantly recognisable to Conservative members and doing a good job behind the scenes then she deserves to stay. I am sorry, but we need a good solid pool of performing shadow cabinet members who can be called upon at a moments notice to put forward our case and attack the government's appalling record.
We have that, so why are we going on about the chairman who will never be a recognisable or important figure to voters in general?

Agree with the move except that Liam Fox should be back as Shadow Foreign Secretary. It would send the right message to the Republicans in the US.

It could be a long haul until the next General Election and so it is essential that Team Cameron maintain unity and they are not simply HM Opposition but HM Government In Waiting. The role of Shadow Chancellor needs to be undertaken by someone with gravitas and, for me, William Hague looks to be the best choice as the future Bank Manager to the nation. Undoubtedly, there will be much bumpiness for The Treasury between now and the next GE (and much to clear up afterwards) and I just feel that Hague could more easily display the image of a competent and safe pair of hands rather more so than Osborne whose obvious talents might be used more strategically elsewhere.

Hague for Chancellor!

Having Osborne as Chairman is far less likely to make me return to the Party.

Redsoxmike: "Agree with the move except that Liam Fox should be back as Shadow Foreign Secretary. It would send the right message to the Republicans in the US."

Yes and how many UK marginals are they going to swing for us?


Really? Most of the Notting Hill set are not of the party, George wasn't an active member at university and has never really participated, as far as I am aware, deep at constituency level.

The Chairman needs to sort out local level organisation and ensure we have the right people and resources in key marginals, and that involves a lot of trips to key constituencies. I don't think George Osborne wants to do that, and he is probably too divorced from the mainstream voter due to the accident of his upbringing and education, to really tap into Tescoman mentality.

And he's getting some good results in his current job, so lets leave him where he is.

But the 3 people doing 1 job point is a good one. Let Ashcroft sort it out.

I have to say that I disagree with the comments about Caroline Spelman - which I think are grotesquely unfair. Caroline was brought into CCHQ at a time when there was significant discord between party workers (at both a national and local level) and CCHQ. She has succeeded brilliantly in mending fences and rapidly making CCHQ a more modern and effective campaigning organisation. Under her guidance, the Blackpool conference was a brilliant technical and political success - this success being a major reason for Brown's chicken Saturday.

Caroline comes over as a good, modern face of the Conservative Party. Her media image is excellent and helps move the Conservative image away from the elitist tag that might otherwise threaten it. I see no reason to move somebody who has been an overwhelming success in her first few months in the job.

Rehman Chisti was not "put in" to a marginal by Maude, he was selected overwhelmingly by the association. The assn chairman commented on the Seats blog at the time. He'd already fought and won a local election as a cllr if I recall correctly.

He's done a decent job as Shadow Chancellor and the public now see him as a source of hope, which is why I think it might be dangerous to move him at this time. A new face as Chancellor would give Cameron the opportunity to take the best bits from George Osborne's tenure whilst adding in some new plans, but I still think it's risky.


Its in Spelman's own interests as much as the party for her to move.

She doesn't have the right attributes for a chairman. And if the hope was that she would look appealing on tv - then she has been invisible in practice.

Token appointments don't work!

"He's done a decent job as Shadow Chancellor and the public now see him as a source of hope,"

Well I am not sure he has, for part of the reason Brown got the bounce he did, was because he had been allowed to go to his coronation without Osborne laying a glove on him, and in the wider context of things, apart from one announcement at the Conservative Party conference has Osborne made any real impact on the spending/ taxation debate, let alone flag up the very real financial problems we face coming over the horizon?


Apologies. Inadvertantly ambiguous wording by me there. Maude put him on the A list and he is now in one of our marginal seats.

Point is, just like the candidate in Ealing, this guy is in bed with Labour one minute and then loves us the next? This isn't like moving jobs, it's tribal and we really shouldn't be taking defectors and handing the the keys to the door just because they look bright...

I have to say not it's his fault and if you like him and want him as your councillor that's fine - we should welcome genuine converts. But from Labour to Tory Parliamentary Candidate in 18 months flat is dangerous. What the hell was Maude doing rigging the A list against good Tories he found distasteful and headhunting our opponents?

These comments betray a total confusion about what the role of the Party Chairman ought to be.

We need to decide whether we want media personality who gets wheeled out to attack the government on any issue of the day, or do we want a backroom person who can sort out the party administration, struture and activists.

We have 20+ people in the Shadow Cabinet who ought to be able to be interviewed on Newsnight or Today. We need a Chairman to do the backroom work, and as good as Osborne is, that isn't where his strength lies. It is however, where Spelman's strength lies.

Great. Start to make real inroads into becoming next government and then unnecessarily shuffle the cards again.

Breathtaking stupidity.

One person should be in charge of the Tory campaigning machine and Lord Ashcroft should report to that person.
If there was going to be a single party chairman then why not make Lord Ashcroft that person in that case?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

As other contributers have already mentioned, the public have now (finally) got Osbourne in their minds as a future chancellor, and same with Hague as future FS. I also doubt Hague would want to move.

Leave things be!

I don't think anyone would dispute the strength of Osborne on TV and he clearly relishes media debate (where he excels)

I always believed however that the Chairman was a person that through the network of agents and regional directors, builds links between CCHQ and the associations. Ashcroft is already doing this and the marginal seat strategy is working. Connecting groups such as CF etc with local associations and co-ordinating campaigning we put us in a good position to fight the lib dems in what has always been considered their key area.

I think that the comments on Spelman are unfair as like M15, the hard work occurs behind the scenes (forgive the analogy, just been watching Spooks...)

Whatever his other faults (and they are legion), it did not seem too much of a problem to combine Gen Election co-ordinator with being the actual Chancellor, so combining it with Shadow Chancellor does not seem too much. Meanwhile Spelman should be getting on with internal organisation and relations with the grass roots. I have no knowledge of how she is doing at the former, but she has soothed the latter very well.

The one truth in Tim's post is that Ashcroft should be reporting clearly to one person, an elected politician. If that is not clear, it should be made so. As his role is more election orientated, perhaps it should be Osborne. Other than that, why change it all just when it's started performing, and why change the Shadow Chancellor now that he has gained some battle honours and credibility? The relationship between Osborne and Spelman is clearly crucial, but I see no reason to detect tensions there. They both seem very equable, indeed pleasant, people and there is no reason why they cannot continue to work in harmony. If they stick together then any tensions regarding Ashcroft should also be manageable.

So let's stop contemplating the Party's navel shall we?

The Editor is mistaken. Lord Ashcroft's role is similar to that of a Chief Executive, i.e. in charge of day to day operations. The post that has not been filled since Barry Legg was sent packing not long after Mark McGregor.

Lord Ashcroft should have total responsibility for election planning, including candidate selection. He should have a formal contract that specifies his role precisely.


The Party Chairman's role is to be responsible to the members, including Parliamentarians, for the performance of CCHQ. If Lord Ashcroft (or his team) fails to perform, the Party Chairman should take the appropriate action, including dismissal.

George Osborne has only worked in politics and has no managerial experience. Caroline Spelman has never impressed in any of her roles. My choice for Party Chairman would be Adam Afriye. He has the necessary business experience to run CCHQ, can be ruthless when required and would be an excellent media face for the Party.

Was is not Ali Miraj who first touted the Osborne for CHairman idea in his article on NewStatesman.com just before Party COnference?


He also suggested appointing Hague as Shadow Chancellor and Rifkind as Shadow Foreign Secretary.

All sounds emminently sensible. We should follow his advice.


On this one I disagree. I'm sure you are right that he would make an excellent chairman but now is not the time. Caroline Spelman is doing perfectly well.

For the first time I think, at Party Conference, the front bench looked like a possible Government in waiting. George Osborne was an important player in this.

My view is unless something unexpected occurs then Cameron should keep most of his team unchanged up to and beyond the next GE. In particularl the key roles (Chancellor, crime, health, education etc.) should not be changed.

This might be unusual but it gives the impression of consistency, unity, solidarity and strength. These should play well with the public.

Having familiar people saying familiar things makes them more accessible to the voter. It will enhance the impression of a Government in waiting and potentially attract more people.

Not keen on such changes, better to let things bed in, now that they are working.

Hague for Chairman.

The one truth in Tim's post is that Ashcroft should be reporting clearly to one person, an elected politician.
The Party Chairman surely reports to the Party Leader as do all the most prominent frontbenchers, and as a party figure doesn't need to be elected - so Lord Ashcroft could be Chairman of the Party and remain so after the General Election in the event the Conservative Party formed a government.

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