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Jeremy Hunt - I hope he will on to even bigger and better things in 2009!

....or even GO on to bigger and better things....!!!

To be candid they are not an inspiring lot. When I think of Tory Shadow Cabinets in the past, large stature people who were household names. Most of the current lot are unknown to most people save those interested in Politics.

If I had to chose any it would be Eric Pickles a larger than life figure in more ways than one.

I like Eric Pickles performance very much over the year. But as front bencher it has to be Dominic Grieve. Dominic commands respect from the whole House as he is master of his brief, and he communicates honestly with the whole electorate. Finally he is respected by journalists and broadcasters.

Eric Pickles for me. The party was hopeless at by-elections until Eric took charge.

The jealous and factional Cameroons are briefing against him because the activists want him (rather than hopeless Nannygate Spelman) to be Party Chairman.

Eric, as Chairman, would provide the perfect contrast to the privileged Cameroons that dominate CCHQ. He would also improve the effectiveness and efficiency of CCHQ, a task that even Chris Grayling would baulk at.

Chris Grayling for me. The best one we have for effective attacking of the Govt. Clearly works hard at it. A few of his colleagues need to take lessons from him.

given the Brown bouncing and the very real problem the media have had over our economic approach - cant look further than David Cameron myself.

An absolute Prime Minister in waiting and the man carrying this party (vrey much single handedly in parts) to victory.

Another fine year for DC. Happy new year to you all.

Bar Owen Paterson, whose virtues I have commented on in the past, it would have to be Michael Gove for me.

I have to agree with Sally re- GO. For me it is a toss up between Osborne and Pickles. Pickles for all the reasons mentioned above by 'My Hero'. But Osborne for proving time and time again his resilience, tenacity and most of all character. Character because very few men and women today have the courage to put their hand up and apologize when they do wrong and Osborne did. And because he puts the good of the country before his popularity when it comes to matters of the economy.

what about grant shapps he has constantly bought the government to account on their hopeless polices on housing .

I do feel Eric Pickles has benefited from a large dose of inverse snobbery. He was completely out of his depth on Question Time a few months ago (not a good sign for a possible Party Chairman) and Crewe & Nantwich was much more of a team effort and a vote against Gordon Brown on 10p tax.

I don't think there has been one stand out "star" of the shadow cabinet in 2008, but two people who always come across as authoritative, hard working and capable of holding Cabinet office are Phillip Hammond and Chris Grayling.

From the next tier, David Gauke and Mark Hoban for their tenacity and pure doggedness in tackling the many finance related Bills in the House of Commons this year. It can't have been much fun being in the Treasury team this year.

Mark Prisk is also a fantastic small business spokesman and has a genuine passion for his job which shines through.

Overall, there are more stars in the junior ranks of the front bench (good sign for the future) than in the shadow cabinet which at times doesn't look hungry enough. Can you imagine Jacqui Smith still being Home Secretary today if David Davis had remained her shadow during the knife crime and Damian Green scandals?

One problem Shadow Cabinets face now is that there has been two long periods with the same Government and it is very difficult for shadows to become known at all.

When Governments changed colours more regularly as they did in the 60s and 70s, it was easier for shadows to get known and become "big beasts", because they were actually in Government occassionally!

What we need - and have had to a large extent under Cameron, is stability. It's still hard, especially given media format - and bias, for shadows to get heard and heard regularly, but at least keeping the same team in place allows them to build up profile over time, if not with th epublic, then with the organisations who matter in their field.

It has to be Pickles. Undoubtedly the best performer of the year. As Eric would himself say "CHAMPION".

They all deserve medals I think, but David Cameron deserves the biggest of all to date for keeping a well managed ship. However Eric Pickles sent my pulse racing slightly when he gave his "They're all gone quango" speech last year.

I'd also like to put a word in for Michael Gove ( good ideas ), Dominic Grieve ( trusted ), Chris Grayling ( work ethic and well placed reform ), George Osborne ( best budget bashing speech ), William Hague ( Lisbon Treaty arguments ), Andrew Lansley ( trusted and hard working ), and definitely Philip Hammond who can't half make a good pitched battle in the commons with the opposite benches when he wants to.

I'm sorry for those I missed out but I don't hear them much and I suspect the majority of the country have never heard of half of them for some strange reason.

I agree with HF @13.00 re Chris Grayling,whilst confessing ignorance about Owen Ps hard work in Ulster.
I am still waiting for Pickles to pick up upon the Decent Homes scanadal!

What about DD for BOTH awards in 2008?

@ Caroline Strafford

I believe that Dominic Grieve is your local MP so perhaps you are a little biased. :)

Front bencher of the year: David Davis when he was there, otherwise, the wonderful Pickles.

Common theme? Both straight-talking Northerners, which is why we need to use them more in the media to pre-empt the return of Blunkett.

Pickles for Chairman?? I don't think so!!Nobody is motivated by someone who takes the credit for the work of others and is known to do so. A great talker and a place for him but as Chairman? No no no.

I agree swith Jonathan Isaby's choice of Owen Paterson. He did an excellent job of Fisheries and is one of the few politicians who really understands (and took the trouble to learn) the scientific as well as the political aspects of this subject. He has also performed well above expectations in his present post. Although I have never met him, I understand that he is also a popular and hard working constituency MP.

The fact that he is not better known and has a relatively low political profile suggests that he concentrates most of his energies towards doing his job really well, rather than promoting his own political career. I am sure that he is not alone in this, but we could certainly do with more of his calibre in the front bench.

Chris Grayling should be a contender and I've also been very impressed with Grieve who I did not rate as a media performer before his appointment but has done well. Terrible haircut though!

Pickles commands respect everywhere he goes. He is leading from the front in local government and demanding the highest standards. Above all, he rallied and motivated people in Crewe by leading from the front and above all, making the campaign fun. Mrs Pickles holiday in Crewe was my comedy moment of the year. What a great guy and a great politician.

Please Gareth!!! He did not lead people from the front in Crewe. The target seats team did the strategy and the motivation. Pickles front ran publicitity for himself on the back of others work, and did so blatently

"Pickles for PM, because we're in one"

"Put Pickles on it"

"Pickles and Tory salad go together"

Sorry, I couldn't stop myself. lol

Get your Pickles screensavers here !

Frank Field.

Besides being an insomniac (2:36 entry) Alan Kramer seems to have a bit of a thing going for the “Magnificent Pickles” – why the hostility? I have never seen an interview with the great man that did not praise the CCHQ team; Eric has been around a long time and is well known in the Party as team player. Just before Christmas Crewe and Nantwich opened a new campaign office and who did they chose to open it? None other than our old friend Eric Pickles, the local Party clearly appreciate his worth and perhaps they are in a better position to value Eric’s contribution than the bitter Mr Kramer

Unity -
You are quite right that Dominic Grieve is my MP. However I picked him because of his ability, and not because of his constituency.


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