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I agree with eight of your nine although I'd put Caroline Spelman instead of Jeremy Hunt who is too new. (Although I know you are looking at potential)
Given that Neville-Jones and Warsi have been enobled and put straight into the shadow cabinet they must be in David Cameron's longterm plans.

If the Conservatives are to win power at the next General Election, then 2008 is the year when the Shadow Cabinet and their underlings start showing more than potential. At the moment some are drifting and need a swift kick up the backside.

You are quite right about Michael Gove; very intelligent and highly courteous (please compare and contrast with Ed Balls). However, Education is much too important a portfolio for Michael to leave. He must remain there until we are in government - and beyond.
We have made our views plain about George Osborne - indispensable he may well be to DC, he does not inspire the greatest of confidence in us as a potential Chancellor (though of course, he is only up against Alistair Darling), which does make a difference).
The one big lacuna in your list is Health; we have to resonate with the public on the economy, the NHS and education. As far as I can see, we only tick one box there.

Since when has Piers Fletcher-Dervish been a big beast?

If this is the best we have to offer then clearly there is much work still to do.
Gove has been excellent at attacking Labour. Much less good at articulating Tory policy.
Fox, as far as I'm aware didn't criticise Brown's decision to withdraw from Basra at all.Rather he very effectively attacked Brown for seeking to use our troops there as a photo opportunity. Even though I take a very keen interest in this subject I still don't really know how our defence policy will differ from that of the government.
Hunt has like many other Shadow ministers been largely invisible.If he really is one of our best communicators then his task this year is to ensure that more than a tiny percentage of the electorate have actually heard of him.
Sorry to be a bit negative but we must be aware of our weaknesses as well as our strengths.

Responding to David Belchamber, I would like to say who is this "we" that are against Osbourne as Chancellor? He was initially unpopular but now has one of the highest approval ratings in the shadow cabinet according to ConservativeHome's figures.

This "we" may actually just be you and a handful of others.

One of the outstanding Conservatives of the last year in Parliament has been Dominic Grieve ... handling his areas of responsibility well, performing well in interview, and holding the Government to account. I am sorry that he has not made it onto your list ...

Davis is an interesting one, because his previous stint as a minister was not widely regarded as a success.

I would agree that Hague, Gove, Herbert and latterly Osborne are impressive, and give us a solid Cabinet base. Grayling needs to re visit some of his poorly thought out ideas on welfare reform. Fox has never impressed in the House. Willetts is still licking his wounds over Grammargate. Letwin must be kept well away from a TV screen, irrespective of his intellectaul qualities. He will always have a marginal seat to nurse as well. We are seriously underpowered in terms of quality female MPs in the (Shadow) cabinet.

I would like to see Villiers, May and Spelman gradually phased out if they do not improve, to be replaced by Justine Greening, Naddine Dorries, Anne Main and Ann Milton, all of whom has demonstrated, both constituency wise, and in the media, that they have great potential.

Finally, we must put a truly "big hitter" in the Party Chairman's role, working closely in tandem with Steve Hilton, Andy Coulson and Michael Ashcroft, prior to the next Election.

This person must be someone who can lucidly articulate a Conservative message for the 21st century, and constructively expose Labour's Lie Machine without sending Worcester Woman into the arms of Nick Clegg.

I would for Naddine Dorries or possibly Sayeeda Warsi at this stage.

"I would like to say who is this "we" that are against Osbourne as Chancellor?"

Well you can include me in the 'we', for I have long felt Osborne has been a poor Shadow Chancellor. His current popularity is the result of his one announcement about IHT, beyond that I am unable to suggest any other campaign, critical analysis, or policy agenda to associate him with,( he did try to gate crash IDS's poverty agenda and very nearly messed it up) but perhaps you can enlighten us about any critical analysis he has made of Gordon Brown's stewardship of the economy, or even any political agenda and path which he wants to implement as Chancellor? Copying Labour's spending plans doesn’t really cut it as critical analysis, or policy agenda, in fact it shows the Conservatives to be bereft of ideas, and showing a complete lack of political ambition!

I agree about Dominic Grieve.
Very good brain, explains things well in an interesting way - serious but a bit humerous as well.
Sound economic views, but also realistic about what can be promised in opposition.

I am a bit disappointed by Villiers - and would like to believe otherwise. Where is our statement about these outrageous above inflation New Year season ticket prices, and our proposals to put some genuine competition (with a slot based system) into the rail industry?

I must say that political ability aside, Michael Gove is a master of self-publicity, which is no bad thing in politics. Mr Gove not only knows how to get himself out and about but has a way of dominating any TV appearance through his personality. Something else I have noticed about Mr Gove is that he has an intellectual grounding, something that is becoming all too rare in politicians these days. Rather like the party's 'quintessential intellectual' Boris Johnson, Michael Gove seems to know a lot about the wider world beyond politics. That makes such a refreshing contrast with the modern breed of career-politician.

Michael Gove regularly appears on Newsnight Review. He is as eloquent when talking about Cuban art as he is the school leaving age. He is excellent in the Commons, and barring mishaps should go to the top.

I agree about Dominic Grieve. Very good on Any Questions recently, and brought some much needed probity back to Beaconsfield after the Tim Smith debacle.

Andrew Mackay would be essential as Chief Whip in Cameron's first Government.

I used not to like Gove much, but now quite admire the way he tirelessly battles on putting our case.

I thought he dealt with that tiresome idiot Michael Winner on Question Time very well - who pretended not to know who he was, and was polite back, and battled on.

You are right to emphasise the lack of original thinking from David Davis. He's good at opposition. Not very good at new thinking.

I never used to be that impressed by Davis, but I think under Cameron and with ambitions put to one side he's started to do very well.

I think his approach is quite different. Not because he's got lots of initiatives up his sleeve, but because he will be the first Home Secretary with any belief in civil liberties for a generation.

I don't really mind that he's not got loads of initiatives and legislation ideas in mind. One of Labour's big faults is thinking that structures and legislation change things. That's not our way. He'll be a good, solid home secretary for us.

Good point.
One of the main problems with Labour is not that they are bad people but they have overloaded the whole machine with directives and dictats which have discredited the procedures and very old laws which we already have, because you can't enforce them
The Home Office is not fit for purpose because of this.
DD would return us to common sense.

It's interesting, though not particularly surprising to see all the non-white, non-male faces shunted into a little category of their own. How inclusive.

I don't understand all the fuss about Nick Herbert. Yes he is bright but he doesn't come across overly well in the media and I've seen/heard him be fairly rude to people, without reason. He may make too many enemies to progress to the very top.

I would echo everyone else by saying: Why is Grieve not in the Shadow Cabinet? Articulate, bright, committed, and a thoroughly decent man, he will surely be an even more important figure than he is.

I don't see that Liam Fox is indispensable. He has barely figured since being overlooked for the leadership. I like him though and would like to see more of him.

Davis will be a terrific Home Secretary. He will restore the public's faith in the system. It's not always about innovation.

Would echo Editor re Gove, he is made for Government.

The Shadow Cabinet is under-performing and major reshuffle is required ASAP. All Shadow Cabinet members should be full-time and resign part-time jobs in the private sector.

The ineffective Theresa May, Theresa Villiers and Caroline Spelman should be replaced. Cheryl Gillan, Maria Miller and Eleanor Laing should be promoted. The Annes, Main and Milton, have failed to impress.

Liam Fox is too anxious to curry personal favour with his neo-con chums and should be moved. Chris Grayling is better at attacking Labour than developing policy and shuld be moved to campaigning role. Francis Maude has gone back to his old lazy habits and should be sent to the backbenches. Eric Pickles is due for promotion and should be appointed Party Chairman.

The Shadow Cabinet is too large. Cameron should get rid of the junior shadow cabinet positions currently occupied by Neville-Jones, Warsi and Shapps. Their presence in the Shadow cabinet undermines authority of their senior colleagues.

Chris Grayling deserves to be in the Cabinet - aside from his undoubted skills, he deserves it most for his work in attacking the government. Sometimes it seems like he alone understands that, in order to win, we actually have to be baying for Labour's blood. Others do not seem hungry enough.

Another useful inclusion might be Lord Trimble. Widely respected and a household name, he willingly chose to identify himself with our party. Let's use him!

A brilliant piece of analysis. Well done Tim and Sam. I agree with Jennifer W that Spelman should be in the nine and not Hunt but otherwise very accurate and interesting. And people say blogs are unserious?

Fox and Davis are clearly too stupid to sit in Cabinet.

"Lord Trimble. Widely respected and a household name, he willingly chose to identify himself with our party. Let's use him!

Posted by: Craig Barrett"

Good idea - I hope there are plans to.

Caroline Spelman came up with some very good ideas about housing early in 2007, with a private members bill, and proposals to build more housing whilst protecting the Green Built aswell - never an easy task.
I hope these ideas are taken up.

Agree about Eric Pickles - also needs promoting.

Dr Fox did not think there was enough 'balance' to the first eighteen months of Project Cameron and his judgment was right.

I don’t know how you can be so certain. Dr Fox’s approach may well have lacked the degree of change required to get the media and electorate to re-evaluate our party.

What about Grant Shapps....he has done some great work at highlighting housing issues, local hospital campaigning in his constituency and he coes over as likeable and effective on TV - some very good qualities for a cabinet member

"in order to win, we actually have to be baying for Labour's blood"

Craig Barrett, I agree. It is heartbreaking to see the way that Labour get away with so much. Everytime they are on TV they get away with saying things like "We have full employment" "The poor are better off" "The NewDeal has cured youth unemployment" "There are more NHS dentists" and Conservatives just let them get away with it every time. If Joe Public sees these statements not being challenged he will assume they must be true and won't be switching his vote away from Labour.

The moment Labour come up with a false statement, say claiming the NewDeal has eradicated youth unemployment the fur should fly and it should be pointed out that youth unemployment is up by 20%. The Conservative strategy should be "Attack, attack, attack" to let these lies go by unchallenged is actually failing in the oppositions job of holding government to account.

Evan Price/ North Briton,

Tomorrow we'll be profiling people who should - in the ConservativeHome Members' Panel's opinions - be promoted to the shadow cabinet.

Dominic Grieve and Grant Shapps will certainly feature...

Bit off topic but I had a look at some of the older threads referred to by the Editor and noticed how many former CH regular commenters appear to have disappeared. Where's Matt Davis, Cardinal Pirelli,Ted, jorgen,valedictoryan,DVA, Simon Chapman,Jack Stone, Tomtom, Mark Mcartney (who I think morphed into Traditional Tory) these days.
Some I guess have got fed up with the success of Cameron and the Conservative party but some of these people are sorely missed (by me at least!).

Happy new year Malcolm. Pretty certain Ted's still around, he has posted quite recently I think.

And you've still got me to be a general pain in the a*se- what more could you wish for........ :D

I sold my shares in Grant Shapps MP after the Ealing Broadway/Tont Lit fiasco. Too much, too soon etc.

What about Sir Peter Tapsell as Chancellor? He was right about Brown selling our bullion stocks too cheaply.

"I sold my shares in Grant Shapps MP after the Ealing Broadway/Tont Lit fiasco. Too much, too soon etc."

Was that really all his fault?
Too much was made of that by-election before hand. It was a seat we might have done better in, but would never have done well.

What about the 8% swing in 2005 in Welwyn and Hatfield - which now has a larger Conservative share of the vote than in 1992 - itself a record.

Michael Rutherford at 10.44: a perfectly reasonable question:

" I would like to say who is this "we" that are against Osbourne as Chancellor?"

There was quite a debate on the question yesterday and I justify my reservations about GO by reference to the comments expreseed then.

Happy New Year Tim, Sam and all.

Malcolm (1514) I am still here & dip into CH most days. I haven't contributed much recently for a variety of reasons. One is pressure of work. I am also trying to comment only when I have something different or new to say (for example, I nominated Top Gear for a CH award - I hope everyone has voted for them).

There's a limit (which was crossed some time ago) to how much I can or want to say that is even remotely near the beginning of interesting on what the latest opinon poll is.

I enjoy reading the editors' & others' lead posts, and some of the commentors underneath (you & William Norton are two in particular). Others, particularly some of the anonymous ones, have become dull, unpleasant & repetitive over the last few months, which makes me less eager to get engaged in the debates.

David Davis is the only one whom I would have full confidence in. I guess Hague is OK and Gove is bright. As for the rest of them, they do not inspire me. I am sure there are backbenchers who would get my vote but for the interim I see little hope in the Tories.

"for example, I nominated Top Gear for a CH award"

OK, I gotta ask.


Comstock, that show has a dangerous cult following, they are fanatical, you better watch what you say! The cult of Clarkeson must not be underestimated. :)

We need a really big hitter to take Health - Lansley may well know his stuff, but he's dreadful in the media, and possibly far too nice to fight the battle needed.

What we need is not a potential Minister, but a heck of a campaigner.

After reading this list, now I realise why Fraser Nelson said; "..struggled to get into double digits"

I only rate Cameron, Osbourne, Davis, Hague and Fox.

I know Redwood and IDS could do the job too, but do they have too much "history"??

Clearly Rifkind and Clarke are out.

Also, ok so he's a bit wet, but I also rate Damien Green. Why is he not higher-up?

Grayling would be fine if he sorted out his stuttering and his high-pitched voice.

None of the others really cut the mustard for me. Particularly not the females cited. No, that's not sexist, I just don't think they're any good. Particularly not Theresa May or Warsi. Not for Cabinet Ministers (and we *are* talking CABINET ministers here, not junior ministers)

Hmm.. apart from Cameron.. I make that only 8. Some of which aren't in the shadow cabinet.

Now I know why Fraser, now I know why.

I think this is quite a predictable list.

Clearly those not in the top jobs are going to find it hard to make a serious impression and just because someone like Jeremy Hunt makes an announcement which particularly chimes with the editorial policy of conhome (no offense Editor) I don't really see how one can conclude he is one of the top 9 tories we have.

Probably the most important policy to draw from this exercise is the omission of Lansley. I think there needs to be a bold appointment here. Not really sure who though.

Sorry Simon. I'd quite forgotten about your Top Gear post. You might be glad to know I did vote for it! Happy New Year to you and you Comstock.

"pabw" I think that 'editorial policy' is a tad harsh. The best blogs are those which put forward an opinion and then provoke a good debate from it.

Malcolm Dunn, interesting about past posters...I seem to vaguely recall "Barbara Villiers" claiming to be posting under a false name yet saying that after the leadership election was over we would be stunned when she disclosed her real identity. Did that ever happen?

I think that we are going to see some excellent talent coming in with the next election - people who are going to be fast-tracked to high office on merit. It's up to the voters to see if they get the chance to get their first foot on the ladder though.

Talent will always shine through and maybe not always from the quarters we are expecting.

My understanding is that our polling numbers on the NHS are very good. I think Andrew Lansley is doing a good job. That he dosen't have a huge profile is I suspect larely that (like today) when we have something big to say on the Health we do it through the Party leader so we get a bigger media splash.

Andrew Lansley is doing well at health, because he has clearly thought in detail about how the service could be better managed, how vital drugs can be made more widely available, and I have no doubt he would do a very good job in government, in that job.

Sometimes I think we are not being fair to those who have worked hard on nuts and bolts - there is quite a lot of it going on. Perhaps we need to make sure, as a party, that this work is given a higher profile, but nor do we want our ideas pinched.

I still fear that hanging on with those from the old days reminds the electorate of past mistakes. New blood may help may make them forget, but alas, with this front bench D.C has, doesn't seem to make the party look fresh. Sorry guys.

Which of 'The Three To Watch', the '3 Indispensables' and the '3 Token Women' is which? You shouldn't assume that this website is so obscure that only the Faithful Few Followers of the Blessed Margaret come to visit. Some normal people do drop in, if only by mistake.

Let us have more labels, please, of those who may be Cabinet Ministers before the decade is out.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've just remembered I have an urgent appointment back in the Real World . .

Geoff - fair point - but a blog which is itself at the forefront of the 'new media revolution' is always going to be disproportionally welcome to an announcement such as Hunt's. Notwithstanding everybody having issues with the left leaning bias, I think the electorate at large is rather fond of the BBC (rather like the NHS) and anything too radical would be electorally unwise (as with the NHS).

Also, I don't think its not entirely unfair to talk of an editorial policy here at conhome - not a criticism, but a fact, when you see things like the 'conhome 'shields.'

Unfortunately, talented newcomers did not flock to the Tory party between 1997-2001, and in any case insufficient seats were won at Westminster, so that the frontbenches are very thin indeed.

This has GOT to be a major headache for Cameron. What he needs to do to fix it is pretty obvious. He needs to selected 20-30 heavy weight and parachute them into safe seats.

Trimble should also be in the first Cameron Cabinet and I am surprised the Editor hasn't mentioned him.

And I guess he will have to have a larger number of ministers who sit in the Lords.

The current parliamentary party is simply not equipped to form an impressive government for a number of terms.

I do hope Mr. Cameron realizes that but I have my doubts.

We should be grateful David Davis has won the argument on drugs. DD is the one who keeps bringing Ministers down, Nick herbert may be bright but we need DD to keep leading on crime issues. He is one of few Shadow Ministers the governmnet fears

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