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Yeah, but why are Cameron and Osbornw sitting at the top of the table? What experience do they have? NONE.

Until newbies have experience this would be very sensible.

Ask yourself this simple question...


a. Malcolm Rifkind, Ken Clarke and Michael Howard


b. Theresa May, Sayeeda Warsi and Liam Fox?

Only those uninterested in competent government could possibly choose b.

I dunno, I think Gove and some of these chaps will be pretty good. I'm sure not we need the really old relics of the 1990s.

Please God, not 'rabbit in the headlights' Forsyth.

Redwood and Howard: clear thinkers, need to be involved somehow. Clarke - brilliant but too divisive. Fox, Gove, Warsi will be fine.

May? That 'nasty party' remark should forever deny her high office, as it almost has done the party.

Well the Conservatives are in a better position than New Labour, given that the last Labour Govt. cabinet met in 1979 after a vote of no confidence, a full 18 years before they were re-elected, with the only serious ex-govt minister left in 1997 being the likes of Tony Benn, who was widely held in contempt in the '70s for his performance as Energy Secretary when North Sea Oil was starting up.

New Labour were also hampered with the theory of the 'Third Way' mantra, meaning that even intellectuals like David Milliband were reduced to abandoning big ideas which could have a real impact, and instead being forced to concentrate on administrative details - hence the awful targets system he dreamed up to improve the performance of public services like education, policing and health.

So... yes we have MPs with more experience who should be welcome in a Cameron cabinet, but we should learn the lessons of Labour's failure:

1. Do not stifle big ideas, encourage big thinking and discuss them seriously without fear of implementing

2. We have older talent, who have seen the implementation of big ideas in the past, good and bad, wheel them in to a cabinet and lets hear their opinion on proposals

3. Try to initiate a feeling of collective mission amongst the cabinet, this will instill an eagerness which encourages collegiate action and suppresses the ego and personal ambition which stifles effective government. Blairs failure to sack Brown after early after he began undermining the PM and his cabinet doomed his legacy - the most single defining moment for me was Brown forcing the removal of the only Minister capable of great things in welfare reform, Frank Field, in favour of Harriet Harman. Blair should have sacked Brown then.

Yes, get then in, but crucially, lets get the conversations going with them and the big ideas folks now.

Sorry, just read the post above - Redwood is a good big ideas man, but he can tend to be evangelical about them and can be difficult to handle. A dilemma there...

The comments about the less experienced folks are unfair - everyone has to start somewhere, and some will prove to be great I'm sure.

Where is the "talk" about this coming from? Is it from sources we trust? If those who do not have our Party's interests at heart are spreading this story it could be because they are trying to present us as "Same Old Tories" "harking back to the past" and other non-flattering descriptions!
On the other hand it may be useful to have one or two "old hands" in the mix!

The Party must NOT, repeat NOT engage the services of the "has-beens". It was their "expertise" which put the Party in opposition for the past ten years. They are all rubbish. Will the Tories never learn?

Thank you David Roberts (no relation!) for proving the point of what I am saying!

Michael Howard would be good as Ld Chancellor and Redwood deserves office but Clarke has sulked for 10 yrs and been Shadow Minister for BAT. Rifkind was responsible with Clarke for Maastricht and Forsyth stole back the Stone of Scone.

I prefer to risk MPs as Ministers who haven't given 5 yrs evidence of their incompetence and unfitness for office

If we do win the General Election, I hope that every Tory will pause on election night and raise a glass to Michael Howard, who alongside Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron ranks as the most pre eminent Tory of the last 30 years.

People may forget what a rabble we were in 2003. Howard instilled discipline and professionalism in the parliamentary party, and outclassed IDS as a leader in just about every other way too. Many many Labour MPs now sit on very small majorities as the result of Michael Howard, and will fall next time.

"Could Michael Howard and other Major-era ministers join Ken Clarke in Cameron's first Cabinet?"

Answer: The Major Years were a disaster y for true Conservatism and national independence under the oily grasp of the corrupt EU, which included the ERM fiasco.
It was the Gormless One and his cabal of traitor mongers who signed the Maastricht Treaty, setting the trend for other equally damaging EU treaties to follow in quick succession.
No thanks, we do not want a return to national suicide with those fools who were, and are, the enemies of our country.
The first thing DC should do in power is to repudiate those years of humiliation and disgrace, and pledge Conservatives to immediately re-negotiate our relationship with the EU more to match that of Norway - the most prosperous (mainly EU free) nation in Europe.
His first priority must be the reassertion of national independence from the EU, and the restoration of real, and representative parliamentary democracy.
These must be the priorities of real Conservatism - but many of us doubt if a pink DC has the mental grasp or political will to understand such matters.
Graham Wood (York)

Yesterday's men, the lot of them.

I am a silver surfer and am determined to vote in the general election like the rest of my ilk. However hitherto I have had some unease at the cast of the next government. To take an example I am dismayed with Milliband as Foreign Secretary. His utterances lack depth and betray his limited experience and poor knowledge of history and geography. By contrast when there is a serious debate in the Commons it is a joy to hear the contributions of those all leaders from Haig onwards have consigned to the back benches. I hope this report is tru.

John Redwood - Yes;
Michael Howard - Yes;
Kenneth Clarke - NO, NO, NO
Peter Lilley - Qualified Yes;
Stephen Dorrell - NO;

John Redwood should be the Chancellor.

Oh dear! Tricky stuff! There is no doubt that Clarke, Rifkind, Haig, even Howard would be tremendous but be careful, don't forget the arrogance and in some cases crass stupidity of some of the others, Hogg, Waldegrave, Portillo etc. that destroyed the respect and credibility of the Major government resulting in the past eleven years.

I simply cannot believe that John Redwood will be allowed anywhere near Cameron's new Conservatives if they win the election. He has a lot of admirers within the party but he brings too much baggage and is too far to the right to be politically acceptable.

I do think we will need experience in our early days and am glad that there are several people who could be called on to serve. However the two leading candidates (Clarke and Redwood) are both potentially very divisive figures who have not always acted in the best interests of the party. Any position that either are offered must come with a cast iron promise from both to maintain cabinet collective responsibility.
Michael Howard and Sir Malc would both be excellent additions to the team but I do wonder if either would be interested anymore?

We need to be careful about this. There may be scope for a couple of experienced heads about the cabinet table, but remember that it was on Clarke's, Howard's & Rifkind's watch that we lost so badly in 1997. DC has spent a great deal of energy showing that the party has changed - that mustn't be squandered.

The cabinet jobs available to them need to reflect that: Lord Chancellor and Leader of the House are both possibles - they give an opportunity for wide-ranging strategic advice, rather than close association with major departments and reforming programmes.


"UDCX" needs to be reminded that Liam Fox is one of the few shadow cabinet members with ministerial experience.

Yes to Howard, Redwood and even Rifkind. No to Clarke: he doesn't get to sulk for ten years, briefing against whoever the party's leader is at the time and then plump his rotund fundament on a Cabinet chair. Someone tell him to take himself and his fags OUT of Westminster.
Who next, Heseltine?

"The defining feature of the Blair-Brown years has been incompetence. A massive gap between often good ideas and implementation".

That is undeniably true and I well remember an article in the Telegraph by Michael Howard written in the form of a letter to John Reid, who had just taken over from the hapless Charles Clarke as Home Secretary. Howard pointed out that government was largely about "process".

We must not paint everybody with the same brush and say that all the "big beasts" were failures, just because Major's government was ultimately unsuccessful.

We need one, two or possibly three of the old guard in, not only to run major departments, but also to act as mentors to those - the majority - with absolutely no experience of government. I agree that you all have to start sometime - but just not so many of them all at the same time.

The shadow treasury team is the biggest worry, as they now have the gargantuan task of clearing up the mess left by eleven years of Labour government. Who of them is up to that task?

John Redwood - Yes
Michael Howard - Yes
Kenneth Clarke - Yes
Peter Lilley - No
Stephen Dorrell - No

But I'd also like to see Portillo back and let's make sure David Davis is back where he belongs.

The ten former cabinet ministers remaining in the Commons are:

Kenneth Clarke
Stephen Dorrell
John Gummer
William Hague
Douglas Hogg
Michael Howard (standing down next election)
Peter Lilley
John Redwood
Malcolm Rifkind
Sir George Young

Clarke has already been hotly discussed recently. Although he hasn't been on the frontbench for 11 years, is probably still more prominent and popular than most of the shadow cabinet. Leader of the House.

Dorrell left the frontbench in 1998, popped up again one night in October 2003 to support Michael Howard alongside Oliver Letwin and Liam Fox, and hasn't really been heard of since. Not needed.

Gummer will always be remembered for that burger in the early 1990s, and although knows his stuff more than anyone when it comes to the environment, should remaining just advising Cameron on environmental issues.

Hague should be Deputy Prime Minister.

Hogg - no. BSE fiasco. No.

Howard - standing down next time, thought he wanted to retire. Not that it would be the first time he'd made a comeback, but I thought the Justice Secretary was meant to be in the Commons now. Grieve would be good at this role.

Lilley - not heard much of since he was sacked as Hague's Deputy. Sings in conference speeches. Not needed.

Redwood - not Chancellor, would not be popular, but undoubtedly knows his stuff when it comes to the economy, and we need people like him in times like this. Maybe a beefed up DBERR?

Rifkind - should be Foreign Secretary. Knows the stuff, knows the role, oozes knowledge of foreign affairs and knows details of foreign policy more than anyone.

Young - not really heard of since he stood for Speaker in 2000. Leave him to focus on his next bid for it.

We should also remember we have lots of experienced former Ministers of State - such as David Davis, Lord Strathclyde, Andrew Mackay, Francis Maude and David Willetts, as well as Under-Secretaries, and lots of up and coming talent. All Blair had in 1997 was Margaret Beckett and Jack Cunningham who had served as U-S in 1970s.

Its important to get a good blend of talent and experience, and whilst Hague should be there a long time, if people like Clarke and Howard are brought in they should only be there for a couple of years whilst others gain necessary experience.

The obvious person in the shadow cabinet who cannot be in government is Theresa Villiers. The weakest performer in the shadow cabinet. Looking at ConservativeHome polls, I'm not the only one who thinks it.

Why the hell would we want Clarke? When or if the economy dies down, the EU will come back into focus, and Clarke is at odds with the vast majority of the party. An he's not too bothered about showing his allegiance to the EU when speaking in the house.

To my mind a new cabinet on Day One needs 'bottom' through real experience. We cannot afford to loose the experience of the 'older generation' and should most certainly utilise the undoubted political skills of Ken Clarke.

He has more political nous than most of the Cameroons put together and boiled in a bag! He has not sulked but shown justified despair and irritation with a party and with party spokesmen moving down the wrong course on far too many issues. His opposition to the absurd military adventure in Iraq being I think a measure of his independent and correct analysis.

His approach to Europe is a correct one and will be seen to be so a generation or two ahead. Many like me stopped voting for the Conservatives when the party fell into the hands of rabid Eurosceptics. He cannot, as one man, change the tenor of the European stance of the party; so do not deny the party his talent out of malice and pique. He has and had a valid point of view shared by a lot of right-wing people like myself. Stop antagonising us or we will continue to vote for other parties, as we felt we had to in the Blair years.

Yes, Howard was a unifier and organizer of top class and most certainly should be in the Cabinet if he stays in Parliament and wants the job. Redwood is another man of great talent. All three, Clarke, Howard and Redwood, have had scurrilous and vindictive campaigns launched against them over the years. They are each men of tried and tested real worth. Any party would be mad to pass up on using them appropriately.

WHY is FRANCIS MAUDE in charge of an IMPLEMENTATION office?

He can't even implement getting from one place to another on time?

As for Nick Bowles, isn't the fiasco of "staffing" City Hall all we need to know?

Will you lot, the advocates of the old gauard on this thread, never, ever learn?

1. The past ministers, named by sundry threaders, put us into oblivion for, not ten, but eleven years.
2. In popular opinion they are the "nasty party"
3. Various members of them, at various elections, have put their heads above the parapet to offer themselves to the country and what happened? They and we were soundly thrashed.
4. It does not need a two-brains to put two and two together to calculate the result if yesterdays men are invited back
5. So, if you really, really do want to ensure that the presently wide open door is kicked shut in the Party's face, then, go ahead and invite Clarke et Miserables back but you will do it without my help or support, for one.

Meantime, I believe Cameron is misguided to even seek the advice of such confirmed but supremely arrogant failures.



"Rabid Eurosceptics"

Being against the Lisbon Treaty does not make a "Rabid Eurosceptic", nor does wanting the EU accounts to be signed off by the auditors for the first time in 14 years. Nor does wanting a fair deal for the UK in the EU make me rabid.

I think you will find that most Conservatives are willing to stay in the UK, but integrate no further. That said I do think that their are a lot of Conservatives who would be in favour of leaving the EU if a Conservative government could not get us a fair deal and sort out the corruption.

One junior minister from the Major years who should be coming back is Jonathan Evans. He has been an MEP since 1999, is standing for Cardiff North and he is an excellent performer. Despite being on the Europhile wing of the party he gets on very well with the Eurosceptic wing of the party and led the delegation of MEPs well.

He is also well versed in financial services issues and (naturally) Welsh matters. If the cabinet needs a Welsh face, he is the best candidate.

OOPS. Obviously the above should read: most Conservatives are willing to stay in the EU.

I can't believe I'm reading this.

HOW long have we been in opposition?

HOW bad was 1997?

HOW many drugs must you have taken to be suggesting this?!

We don't want or even need Ken Clarke,but Howard,Redwood,Davis and Fox are required in the first 15,that's for certain.
If we brought back Ken,then we may as well include Portillo and Major.
Let's do this right this time,right from the start.

If most Conservatives are willing to stay in the EU we are totally 4 letter worded!!

Anonymous Eurocrat - I agree. Early in my career as a junior in-house lawyer in the DTI I did some work for Jonathan Evans and remember his as a very good minister to work with (certainly much more pleasant than his then boss, Heseltine). He did demonstrate that it is essential for Ministers to have good majorities in their constituencies though. IIRC his personal majority was sufficiently slim that he only needed half a dozen letters from constituents opposing a policy to need to think seriously about change.

Why not invite Gordon Brown into the cabinet , he`ll be looking for a job and he`s got loads of experience .You cannot treat people that way .
Its like a team that fights its way up from the First division with some great prospects and then dumps them fro a superannuated Prima Donna with a name .It would be a disaster for collegiate government which is essential at all times . Very interesting article here about how Callaghan was able to soldier on in circumstances that make Brown`s mess look like a stroll in the Park


It shows that personal relationships are not less important under pressure they are more important .

We need people like Ken Clarke and John Redwood , men with experience not Eton boys with Pr flair and nothing else.

As I said two days ago the polls might show a 20 point lead in the south but in a By-election in Leeds yesterday the Tory vote went down by 53 % !!

Labour vote held up and Lib vote went up. Cameron and Osbourne do not appeal to the voters in the North at all and without these seats we will not win anything .

In Leeds the we have only 22 out of 99 seats , this after 11 years of Labour and their recent disasterous year.

When we were in Power for 18 years Labour in Leeds had 84 seats out of 99 , whats going on ! We need to wake up and get some real Tories running the party, not Pr merchants with no experience or idea whats going on all of the country.

Yes, the main cause of government incompetence since 1997 has been the appalling decline in the quality of the British civil service, but it is not simply over-centralisation, targets or lack of executive skills. We have far too many of the wrong kind of people in the civil service.

In Britain and India before WWII the civil service was run and manned by highly intelligent and qualified people from the bottom up. A clerical officer in the 1930's had to have an extraordinary high standard of education in order to be employed, and women had to leave when they got married. Very few women had bastards in those days. The latter point is important because if one has women dipping in and out of their jobs to have children then continuity and application suffers. The Mandarins in charge were from the brightest in the land and of the same class. This meant that there was greater trust between mandarins, and they all pulled in the same direction, and were all motivated by selfless duty and service to the country . They were proud to be incorruptible and saw themselves as heirs to Rome, as patricians and proconsuls.
Today, we have too many from the wrong class of people in the civil service who do not have the same idealised sense of duty to the country, and belief in the necessity of incorruptibility. Too much political correctness has allowed poorly qualified people into the civil service at the lowest level, and it is inevitable with a multi-cultural workforce in the civil service that many of them will not have the same passionate belief in serving the Crown and the interests of England even at the expense of their own personal interests. Today, right through to the top, many civil servants have allowed themselves to be politicised and corrupted, preferring index linked pensions and gongs to resigning on principle.
In order to get back to where we were we should make the civil service extremely difficult to enter academically, and employ more middle and upper class people who are more impervious to being seduced by money and power.
It is a paradox that when the House of Commons in the 19th century was largely occupied by wealthy aristocrats, we had a better functioning democracy because they could afford to resign on principle. Today, most MPs are party toadies who are too frightened to speak out.

Missed out two words , please excuse my Grammar ! lol.

Is anyone seriously suggesting that a new Conservative cabinet can afford to miss the calibre of Michael Howard and Malcolm Rifkind ? Both would make ideal first term cabinet appointments, MH from the Lords. I would also like Cameron to find something for IDS and Redwood, who consistently produces the best blog of any Tory.

We also need to be honest- many in the current Shadow Cabinet are lance corporal class at best.

Just a Ken Clarke is too divisive and would bring chaos to the government's sense of collegiality so would John Redwood. He isn't a team player will wreak havoc.

Anonymous Eurocrat - I agree with you 100% about Jonathan and as (no disrespect to the man) he was relatively little-known in his previous "incarnation" as a minister his expertise (including a spell as leader of the Conservative MEPs) would prove invaluable in the future.

If Cameron doesn't bring back various big beasts of the Major era, would anyone like to suggest who should instead be our key players who have the strength, experience, knowledge and testicular fortitude to lead the country out of this mess?

Are we seriously suggesting that the Shadow Cabinet is packed with such talent that we do not need people like Malcolm Rifkind in it?! In 1931 the economic situation was so dire that George V asked MacDonald to form a National Government, splitting the Labour Party. If a National Government was to be formed now, who from the Shadow Cabinet would really deserve to be in it to lead us through a period of emergency? And who from the backbenches?

A political party that doesn't use at least some of its in depth talent and experience wouldn't deserve to succeed.

Clarke - Yes. (remember Brown claims his economic growth for himself); Hague - Yes; Rifkind - Yes; Redwood - Yes; Howard - Yes; May & Maude definitely not! And that's about it. From there the new people, Gove, Grayling, Ainsley, Grieve, Pickles, yes even Warsi, who would be brilliant on womeen's policies, her track record is miles better than Harperson's, should all be given their chance.

Jonathan - 'Forsyth stole back the Stone of Scone'.

How can you 'steal back' something that belongs to you?

Redwood did most of the hard work on privatisation and was one of those who worked it through with the civil servants so they understood what was required and could go away and draft legislation accordingly.

NuLab's problem was they only had vague ideas based on wish-washy principles which proved impossible to turn into policy and law that actually worked.

Redwood should have a real role in road-testing the policies, now, so when it comes to briefing the civil servants, there are fewer holes and gaps for them to have to cover with difficult compromises and messy law. He ought probably to be running the Implementation Unit, or at least having the "Ah! But..." chair at the table.

Sadly, not likely with Muddle Maude in charge.

When the 1922 committee looked into the Howard Flight affair it concluded that Howard flight was denied natural justice and that Michael Howard and the Chief whip did not have the power to withdraw the whip on a matter pertaining to the ethics and integrity of an MP. The matter should have been referred to the ethics and integrity committee.

It was an unconstitutional act and all that followed (including the selection of a new candidate) was also unconstitutional.

Michael Howard has a lot to answer for in his treatment of Howard Flight and the 2,000 members in Arundel & South Downs.

The party has a duty of care not to involve its members in any unlawful, unethical, immoral or unconstitutional action. Michael Howard rode roughshod over this. It knew full well the legal questions over its actions and still involved the members.

Denial of natural justice now stands as acceptable practice in the Conservative Party.

Michael Howard is not fit to hold high office! Nor is Liam Fox! Anyone but these two please!

Let's hope David Cameron picks the best people to sit in the Conservative government. I don't care if he picks Ken Clarke over George Osborne or John Redwood over Theresa Villiers - let the best people be picked!

C List and Proud - with your constant mutterings and snide comments, you're lucky to be where you are. I'd boot you off the list altogether. And so would CCHQ - that's why you don’t use your real name, isn’t it?

Is that comment aimed at me?

Redwood and Howard: clear thinkers, need to be involved somehow. Clarke - brilliant but too divisive. Fox, Gove, Warsi will be fine.
Posted by: Jonny | September 19, 2008 at 07:20

I think Johnny has it pretty much right, don't forget that it was Major's lot that screwed the whole thing up,

Clarke unacceptable if Cameron is serious about sorting out the mess that is the EU

All this talk misses the fundemental point that people are getting scared about the ecomomic situation and the idea that the likes of Clark and Howard are around to help out is probably reassuring and, therefore, worth raising.


My name is Tony Dixon. I am one of those members who felt unable to go along with the party's clear denial of natural justice and I felt compelled to leave the party as a result. I was not prepared to put my loyalty to the party above the law (and the party's constitution).

I wouldn't treat a dog like Michael Howard treat the members in Arundel & South Downs. Whenever I see Michael Howard mentioned as a contender for high office it upsets me. I am glad he never got his finger on the nuclear button. He is incapable of self restraint and someone could have been nuked by now!

One of the sadnesses of the situation is that the party has taken no steps whatsoever to right the wrong, either to Howard Flight or the members. Howard continues to suffer in silence - but I don't!

Many of us in Arundel & South Downs remain very unhappy that members can be treat in this way.

I am sorry that this matter does not concern you - it should concern all people who believe in the laws of natural justice.

I am curious to know who you thought I was?

Some of those might be of use eg Redwood. Possibly Howard.

Not Clarke under any circumstances. A complete euro snake in the grass. About as sensible as having Kim Philby in the cabinet in the '50's.

Chuckle Brother - are you C List and Proud?

How many ministers could we get away with having from the Lords?

There is a lot of passion and good sense in many of the above contributions (ignoring totally other more strident ones):

Peter at 11.43 on the current state of the civil service:

"A clerical officer in the 1930's had to have an extraordinary high standard of education in order to be employed, and women had to leave when they got married".

"Mandarins in charge were from the brightest in the land and of the same class. This meant that there was greater trust between mandarins, and they all pulled in the same direction, and were all motivated by selfless duty and service to the country".

"Too much political correctness has allowed poorly qualified people into the civil service at the lowest level".

James Hopkins at 12.07:

"In 1931 the economic situation was so dire that George V asked MacDonald to form a National Government, splitting the Labour Party. If a National Government was to be formed now, who from the Shadow Cabinet would really deserve to be in it to lead us through a period of emergency? And who from the backbenches?"

Both the state of the civil service and the questions posed in the last quotation deserve proper consideration.

The current situation is now so dire that the opposition should ask for a recall of parliament and call for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.


Oops! I think I misread your comment!



I think Howard and Rifkind would be possibles to lend a bit of ballast, but Ken Clarke, whilst I supported him in the past, would just be too much aggro. The others are not significantly higher calibre than existing shadow cabinet members so not worth recalling them.

The worst three reviews of last summer were carried out by Stephen Dorrell, John Gummer and Ken Clarke. they also represent to me the worst of government - the centralist ruling political elite.

Why on earth would anyone want them back in Cabinet?

I would support Michael Howard as Lord Chancellor, a return for John Redwood and the introduction of Lord Trimble. However, given the recent rhetoric and phoney public service spending/ tax cut promises (that undermine the defence of the nation) from the Libdems my view is simple. If they want to be part of the Government, then they should take the Conservative whip and take their place in line for a ministerial post with the rest of the Conservative MP's.

Otherwise, they will be just as much an obstruction to the reforms the country needs as Clarke and Co.

I'm sure the public are longing for the return of the successful cabinets of 1992-1997 which are fondly remembered for their competence, cohesiveness and ability to stay away from separate agendas.

For example, Clarke never strayed from his own portfolios or tried to influence policy in other areas and towed the cabinet line at all times. He could make a welcome return to the cabinet and frontline politics after making such a spirited contribution to the party over the years of opposition by sitting next to Blair on a Europhile platform, calling anyone who disagreed with such a stance headbangers and underming successive leaders.

Talent like this should not be wasted.

Iain Dale has taken up the theme of this post with a specific recommendation that Ken Clarke be Cameron's Chancellor.

I've long supported Howard becoming Lord Chancellor but is there even any indication he wants such a role, or even a seat in the Lords? I hope so, but I haven't heard anything concrete.

Also, it is quite clear we won't hear anything official on this until AFTER the election since any comment by the leadership would just give birth to a smear campaign by Labour of "Same old Tories taking us back to 1997" etc. Very frustrating.

There seems to be several people forgetting that there has been so much incompetance since '97 and the begining of the Nulab project because there was no one around with any experience of the workings of goverment. Since then blind and zealous loyalty to the party line has exacerbated that. Justin, I don't find C-list and prouds comment on this particular thread any more snide and uncalled for then those made by several others.


I saw Clarke on TV rubbishing the Tory leadership too many times ever to want to see him back as a Tory minister.

How would his sincere and openly held views about the EU square with Cabinet collective responsibility if an incoming Tory governement was forced into taking a genuinely (as opposed to sham) strong line with Brussells.

Why do you think we elected IDS as our leader instead of Clarke? Would we still have a single Tory party if Clarke had been elected leader then? Probably not.

Being capable, forceful, sincere and experienced is not enough!

Would a more sensible solution not be to stick them in advisory roles/junior ministerial positions?

I am afraid that Howard Flight was not even a household name in his own household, and Michael Howard's decisive action in his case was one of many acts for which the Party must be grateful.

Disaffected members in Arundel can always join the UKIP Worcester branch- where I believe Mr Flight lived.

A political point. Has anyone else noticed that Labour, with the delightful Mr D. Draper at the fore, have lately being turning all their attention to focussing on the Conservatives as the 'nasty party'. Rather futile, but perhaps looking for experience from those who originally acquired that label is playing into Labour's hands (hand? - they may have managed to chop one off by now with their normal compotence). Furthermore, it was not the lack of experience that sank Labour, it was the lack of delivery. Since the same problem bedeviled the Major government after the ERM fiasco (I think it makes a change from debacle), I cannot see the experience of Major's ministers being useful.

The way to make changes is not to fall back on what has already been tried. By all means use the knowledge of those who have been there before, but to reappoint them on that basis just gives the impression of technocratic government by the same small group. Surely the image that the Conservatives need to break?

London Tory - I would rather see a Conservative Party that upholds the laws of natural justice! How can we achieve that?

I do want to see the 'old guard' back in senior office. As much valued as they are, they have had their time and should now be used as advisors to the Shadow Front Bench team. For exmple, Mr Clarke would come in useful as one of the many advisors George Osborne will need to run this 'bankrupt' economy and so on. DC must formulate a totally 'fresh' Cabinet of modern thinkers who can formulate and implement policies so desperately needed to rebuild this country, socially, morally, educationally,financially and prepare for a promised referendum over the Lisbon Treaty.

may as well include Portillo and Major.
Neither of these 2 are in parliament, as for Michael Howard I understand that his position is that he is leaving parliament at the next General Election and has no intention of joining the House of Lords let alone returning to frontline politics.

Many of these people remind people of the low points of the last Conservative administration:

Stephen Dorrell (BSE)

Michael Portillo (His shameless appropriation of the SAS motto followed later by failed leadership attempts and crisis of image and journey of discovery that he was some kind of Liberal)

Kenneth Clarke (ageing Eurofanatic championing the tobacco industry)

Malcolm Rifkind - arrogant, notable for making a remark to US Congressmen including a certain Senator John McCain and some other Vietnam vets that they had no concept of what it was like to be at war, went off in a huff when he wasn't given the role of Shadow Foreign Secretary.

John Gummer (people remember him trying to get his daughter to eat a hamburger and the buildup to the crisis over BSE - he more than anyone else is remembered for this).

Michael Howard - Ann Widdecombe and Jeremy Paxman both did quite a successful negative image campaign against him and any role he was given in the press would be hailed in the press as Dracula is Back.

David Davis - his bizzare resignation of his seat to fight a by-election rather brings his judgement into question.

Surely William Waldegrave would make quite a good Leader of the House of Lords, and is less associated with the things that went wrong in the Major administration.

How about the following for a fantasy cabinet - including many formerly in high office with more recent people mostly in more junior positions:
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Peter Lilley
Home Secretary: John Redwood
Chief Secretary of the Treasury: David Heathcoat-Amory
President of the Board of Trade: James Arbuthnot
Defence Secretary: Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP
Foreign Secretary: Liam Fox
Leader of the House of Commons: William Hague
Northern Ireland Secretary: Peter Robinson of the DUP
Justice Secretary: Edward Leigh
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: John Whittingdale
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: George Osborne
Welfare Secretary: IDS
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families: Theresa May
Health Secretary: Chris Grayling
Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills: Ian Taylor (former Science Minister)
Secretary of State for defra: Philip Hammond
Secretary of State for International Development: Priti Patel
Secretary of State for Transport: David Willetts
Leader of the House of Lords: Lord William Waldegrave
Chief Whip: Cheryl Gillan

Also among others outside the cabinet, but attending:
Armed Forces Minister: Andrew Mitchell
Attorney-General: Baroness Warsi
Paymaster General: Theresa Villiers
Lords Chief Whip: Baroness Gillian Shepherd

Boy Blue needs to purchase a dictionary.

Predictable that this thread has raised a mixture of thoughful comments and absurd ranting.

There is little doubt that a Conservative cabinet needs the experience of Ministers who know how to pilot a Bill through the Commons, use the Civil Service to best effect and have the political skills to deal with the inevitable tremors facing the Government. Without doubt - Clarke (still one of the most popular and regognisable Tories in the country), Howard and Rifkind would be able to do that.

Graham Wood - you said that: "Answer: The Major Years were a disaster y for true Conservatism and national independence...
It was the Gormless One and his cabal of traitor mongers who signed the Maastricht Treaty, setting the trend for other equally damaging EU treaties to follow in quick succession."

I don't really see what that has to do with anything. Wasn't it Lady Thatcher who signed the SIngle European Act and opened the doors to the biggest handover of power to unelected institutions of the past half century? Come to think of it wasn't she also PM when we joined the ERM? Funny that your hysterical language doesn't extend to her!

Ken Clarke is still the most effective Conservative spokesman on tv, he has been excellent on the current banking fiasco (even though I disagree with his naive and adulatory attitude to the EU) and should be invloved in some way. Redwood is a financial heavyweight and has to be used in this capacity, despite his difficult personality. Riffkind similarly, on foreign affairs. But a big no to: Gummer (silly egoist and greenie incompetent) Maude (v nasty and wouldn't put him in charge of the sandwich committee) and T May (nuff said).

To anyone born this side of 1960, Ken Clarke is just too ancient.

To the Tory core-vote he's just too much of a hardcore Euromaniac.

John Gummer - yesterday's man.

Still, anybody's better than Zac Goldsmith.

I think that Sir Malcolm Rifkind would be a fine Shadow Commons Leader and could the job expertly in government . Michael Howard with all his knowledge & flair has the gravitas to be Lord Chancellor . John Redwood has the commonsense and grit needed to road test policies and get them through Whitehall with out the civil service hierachy making mischief. Theresa Villiers , Caroline Spelman, Chris Grayling , Andrew Lansley need some time as junior ministers of state so that they have enough experience to be good cabinet members as do Michael Gove & Jeremy Hunt . David Davis , Liam Fox , Alan Duncan , Lord Strathclyde and William Hague have been in government before and so know the ropes so to speak . What about a role for Gillian Shephard as Party Chairman or Leader in the Lords ? She is popular with Tory Peers and has the experience and respect or the Upper House neededto get legislation passed....

We need to hit the ground running and get cracking with turning the country round - an experienced team is essential to that I think !

Not Howard. He is responsible for over promoting Bullingdon Club Gideon in the first place.

Excellent idea in principal. It's exactly what Margaret Thatcher did in 1979. OK the Tories had only been out of power for 5 years, but Lord Hailsham was originally from the McMillan cabinet, and even Peter Thorneycroft was party chairman (though not in cabinet).

Question is who? I would go for 2, 3 max. One rule - whoever Cameron chooses should have shown loyalty to the party and its leaders since 1997.

Michael Howard - yes as Lord Chancellor (but not Justice)
Malcolm Rifkind - possibly Foreign or Defence
John Redwood - Yes (possibly) to Trade & Industry, no to Chancellor
Ken Clarke - NO. As many have said, he's refused shadow positions and only shows up for leadership elections
Dorrell, Lilley, Hogg, Gummer - No thanks

And don't forget (not ex cabinet) -
IDS - Absolutely
David Davis - possibly at Justice

But don't urge or expect Cameron to make these commitments before the election. It will produce a huge distraction, Labour will seize on it instead of carrying on fighting each other!

Who would any one pick as Minister for Defence? or USS for homeland security? We are fighting a war on 2 fronts, terrorism is still a problem, and the Russians are getting stroppy. Do you all you youngsters wish to pretend that the Great Brown Bear in the room isn't there?

The above comments show just how divisive Clarke still is. I had just about decided to give my vote to the Tories again (despite being extremely suspicious of Cameron) but under no circumstances whatsoever can they have my vote if Clarke is in the cabinet!
Three Tory MPs voted against giving us a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Clarke was one, and another appears on the list - John Gummer. (The other was David Curry). This just shows that Cameron is not serious about reforming the EU in any way. Like most other Tories, I want us out altogether.
Michael Howard should certainly be involved somehow, and also John Redwood, David Davis, Peter Lilley and Liam Fox.
But include Clarke at your peril! This is the man who sulked when he lost the last leadership contest and refused to take a job in the shadow cabinet. Now the Tories are ahead in the polls, suddenly he's interested! Hypocrite and traitor! This has made me furious!

Old re-treads unlikely to present a new image of a changed and modernised party, surely? (How many in Tony Blair’s first Cabinet had ministerial experience?).

As for Clarke being Chancellor, I thought David Cameron has already said Osborne would be Chancellor, and one would assume that meant as soon as we get into government. Did he say that for all his Shadow cabinet – that they’d have the portfolios in Government that they had as Shadow cabinet members – I may have remembered this wrong?

Clarke would be unacceptable in any Ministerial or Cabinet role due to his divisive pro-EU views, and how easier would Clarke as Chancellor make any negotiations for a new arrangement with the EU to restore our sovereignty?

Redwood, Fox, IDS, Hague OK. But pro-EU Gummer and Dorrell?? . As for inviting Lib Dems such as David Laws, certainly not as, um, they are liberals, and do not share Conservative values of family, the nation state and law and order etc….. If we are to have people from other parties, I like the idea of Yet Another Anon (1551) to give posts to Peter Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP (although not necessarily in the roles suggested.)


Prime Minister: David Cameron
Deputy PM & First Secretary of State: William Hague
Chancellor of the Exchequer: George Osborne
Leader of the Commons: Ken Clarke
Home Secretary: David Davis
Foreign Secretary: Sir Malcolm Rifkind
Business & Employment Secretary: John Redwood
Communities & Social Justice Secretary: Iain Duncan Smith
Cabinet Office Minister: Francis Maude
Defence Secretary: Dr Liam Fox
Environment and Energy Secretary: Oliver Letwin
Leader of the Lords: Lord Strathclyde
Nations Secretary: Lord Trimble
Education Secretary: Michael Gove
Health Secretary: Chris Grayling
Women & Equalities Secretary: Theresa May
Pensions & Welfare Reform Secretary: David Willetts
Trade & International Development Secretary: Alan Duncan
Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor: Dominic Greive
Transport Secretary: Damian Green
Farming, Food & Rural Affairs Secretary: Nick Herbert
Housing & Local Government Secretary: Philip Hammond
Culture Secretary: Julie Kirkbride


Chief Whip: Andrew Mackay
Party Chair: Eric Pickles

Stories like this make me wonder if we're letting recent poll ratings go to our heads. We seem to have forgotten that these are some of the best known faces of a Tory government that was comprehensively REJECTED and defeated. Do we really want to hand such a PR gift to Labour? Do we really want to allow Labour to suggest that we think the electorate are thick, that voters don't remember why they gave us such a kicking? Even if Labour is now locked into its own spiral of defeat, a Tory Cabinet of old faces - some of people like Ken Clarke whose divisive Euro-fanaticism always comes before party and country - would offer the media an open invitation to portray us as arrogant once the post-election honeymoon was over. And what sort of message would old faces of l'ancien regime give about our confidence in our Shadow Cabinet? David Cameron should kill this story. If we want the country to put its faith in us, we need to show some faith in ourselves and the future!

The last Tory cabinet consisted of: Major, Heseltine, Mackay, Clarke, Howard, Rifkind, Lang, Newton, Gummer, Lilley, Waldegrave, Mayhew, Bottomley, Shephard, Portillo, Cranborne, Dorrell, Mawhinney, Young, Hogg, Forsyth, Freeman, Hague.

One of those remains on the frontbench (Hague). Nobody seems to be suggesting bringing back more than three at maximum. So that leaves a cabinet of three from the last cabinet, twenty who were not in the last cabinet. And the general idea seems to be only to include them for the first year or two whilst newbies learn the ropes. Hardly recreating the last Tory cabinet in all its glory! If people seriously think that the reason we lost the 1997 election so disastorously is because people didn't like Ken Clarke, then they really need to think again! We were also rejected in 2001 and 2005. Clarke wasn't involved then. But does that mean we can't include anyone in the cabinet who was involved in those shadow cabinets? Because that would include Cameron, Hague, Fox, Ainsworth, Lansley, May, Spelman, Letwin, Maude, Strathclyde, and Willetts.

Ken Clarke as father of the House, OK. Mercer as Sof S for defence. Cash for S of S for extraction from Europe. Howard as minster for Immigration. Villiers, May, Spellman on Tea Lady duties. Lets win without letwin, and I would let Willets go. Osborne is at least dammed sharp even if his ideology is not too clear!

“The obvious person in the shadow cabinet who cannot be in government is Theresa Villiers. The weakest performer in the shadow cabinet”.
Sorry I would have to disagree. That prize is awarded to David Mundell every day of the week. Who he? I hear you say - exactement!
From a Scottish perspective there is only one Conservative politician capable of taking on Salmond - and that’s Forsyth. Problem is that he is in the Lords, but Cabinet Secretary for Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland, will be a job of major importance and will need a serious political thinker.
Ken Clarke back at the treasury – never in a million years- I would hope!

"Cabinet Secretary for Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland, will be a job of major importance "

And the Cabinet Secretary for England would be.....?

However, rising loftily above my English bugbear, I am a bit bemused as to why present S of Ss or a combined position for Scotland, Wales and NI are necessary in the light of devolution.
Are they so complex that they require own parliament/assembly & administrations, plus direct senior UK ministerial representation, plus overall UK government & administration?

The knight in shining armour to combat Mr Salmond should be located where he is... at Holyrood. You have a knight in goldie armour there. To define his oppo as a Westminster politician would be to add force to the perception that this is a Scotland v UK battle, rather than a tourney within Scotland to win the Scottish vote.

Ken Clarke has popular appeal and was a successful Chancellor and I would love to see him in the Cabinet. There is a risk of bringing back figures from a prior age, and this is not necessarily a personal link to mistakes of the past, but rather of conjuring up generalities from then.

Furthermore, if we do bring back figures from eleven years back, our critics will claim we have no fresh talent. This is not true - the Cameron years have uncovered an abundance of talent.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind is a statesman of the highest order, and nothing less. I am not sure how England would tolerate another Scottish Speaker of the House of Commons, given the immature comments left on these forums sometimes, but he would fulfill the duties of that role very well.

Ken Clarke is a modern-day Churchill - another heavyweight who was isolated from the front bench of government for 10 years, but was finally recalled when everyone realised he was right.

People are comparing the current financial crisis to 1929-31. Well, maybe we should be looking to a government composed of leading figures from all parties (all the talents) to deal with it. How about:

Prime Minister - Kenneth Clarke
Deputy PM - Jack Straw
Chancellor - Vincent Cable
Foreign Secretary - David Miliband
Home Secretary - David Cameron
Justice Secretary - Malcolm Rifkind
Leader of the House - Nick Clegg
Defence - William Hague
Education - John Denham
Environment - Chris Huhne
Chief Secretary - Yvette Cooper

I would also find places for (in no particular order): Alan Johnson, John Hutton, Michael Gove, Caroline Flint, Oliver Letwin, Hilary Benn, Liam Fox.

I would make sure the following were let nowhere near the levers of power: Ed Balls, George Osborne, Hazel Blears, Theresa May.

Well put, clearbluewater (1053)! Better than I managed (0026), especially about Ken Clarke, "whose divisive Euro-fanaticism always comes before party and country". Of course the BBC would love Ken Clarke to be given a Cabinet job for 2 reasons: 1)he'd advance their pro-EU views, and 2) they'd hope he'd help undermine the next Conservative government by starting another round of EU trouble in our party.

Do we really need to bring back the dinosaurs of Major's discredited government? We are ahead in the polls by 28% due to Brown's incompetence, global economic conditions and David Cameron's efforts to make us electable again, not because of Ken Clarke and his leftist ideals. Time to move on. With a bit of luck, Cameron will be elected with a huge majority which will mean he can stop pandering to the eco-fascists and start work on some progressive Conservative policies; i.e. Massive tax cuts, renegotiation of the Treaty of Rome, building up our armed forces and reducing the size of the mammoth nanny state which we still have to endure

A couple of oldies not there now would add a bit of balast - my vote would be for Clarke and Rifkind. But not in very public facing roles as surely we will want to be seen as a NEW Government.

One also has to remember that at present we have a ridiculously large Shadow Cabinet of 27 members so there is lots of scope for demoting the less impressive ones and still filling a normal size cabinet of around 20. Apart from some of those already mentioned, Ainsworth is certainly one I would chop who has not yet been mentioned and I wonder if "2 brains" might be better as a Select Committee Chairman. Oliver Letwin deserves a decent middle ranking Ministry and he would be very well suited to either of their positions: Environment or Universities. Surely the embarrassing Party Chairman woman will never be in a real Cabinet either.

I have been a steadfast opponent of Ken Clarke for his divisiveness of the EU etc, but one has to admit that he exudes authority on something like the banking crisis when he comes on the Today programme, as he did this morning. Lord President and Leader of the House with lots of media performances and an important cabinet committee role on domestic issues (keep him away from foreign affairs) could suit him well. I prefer Hague to Rifkind as Foreign Sec but perhaps Rifkind would take a peerage and be Leader of the House of Lords. Alternatively he could either go back to Defence with a brief to sort out a realistic deployment of the forces or, even better, take up a new post as Secretary of State for the Nations and Local Government - combining responsibility for the three devolved nations and the present "Communities" department? What better vantage point for the "English Question" to be decisively resolved by someone with the long experience of Government that would be so useful for such a mission?

If there was an election to be Shadow Chancellor, either among MPs or party members, who thinks Osborne would win it?

I was fascinated to read Robert's comment on the decline of the civil service, and how he believes only the middle and upper class people (presumably from Oxford and Cambridge Unis?) and essentially only unmarried or childless women should be allowed to enter the civil service and Parliament.

I wonder what David Cameron makes of your views?

Why aren't these people (Ken Clarke, Michael Howard, Peter Lilley, Malcolm Rifkind, etc.) currently in the Shadow Cabinet?

Why should they suddenly be promoted to the first Cameron Cabinet?

Is it because we are way behind in the opinion polls?

Or is it because a lot of you people have no real confidence in the current Shadow Cabinet? And if that is the case, why do you think that members of a government that took the biggest electoral hammering for nearly two centuries would be assets?

Ramsay MacBaldwin @ 17.35 on 20th: Ed Balls would not be "nowhere near the levers of power" of your national Government if Mrs Balls held the purse strings. Indeed the puppet strings and purse strings would be quite hard to untangle.

David Hartley @ 23.28: hear, hear!! Extraordinary to be quoting the compulsary retirement of women civil servants on their marriage with implicit approval. How does this fit with the "new trad" policy of tax incentives for marriage or would you ban any fornication amongst female civil servants also?!! There are some problems with the present civil service, but too many married women is certainly not one of them.

Lord Forsyth needs to be Shadow Scottish Secretary as he is indeed the only Tory North of the Border who can take on Alex Salmond with any chance of success . Wit no seat to defend he can focus more efforts on fighting the ten or so seats where we have something approaching a chance .He can just fight those 10 seats like Argyle & Bute , Edinburgh South , Edinburgh South West , Inverness , Aberdeen South , Angus , Perth & North Perthshire , Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine , Galloway & Dumfries and Central Ayshire . I am sure that Lord Forsyth if working full time on those seats could improve the situation - a decent Tory upswing might make our Westminster election win seem more legitimate in Scotland . He is a far better politician than the mediocre bunch who have been running the Scottish Tories other than Sir Malcolm Rifkind who had an impossible task in 2001 .Sir Malcolm could do the press conferences during a general election campaign leavng Lord Forsyth to hit our opponents hard at constituecy level . We need hardworking experienced big hitters who hav learned from past errors to try and get the Scottish Tories on the path to recovery . Rifkind has has the gravitas to help us in Scotland and would be a superb Commons Leader as well as being a great candidate for doing the Shadow job until 2010. His knowledge & love of Parliament and his popularity with all sides coupled with his frontbench experience make him a candidate for being in the Tory top team !

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