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Congratulations to Mark Francois a good addition.

One can't help but feel that Nick Herbert's move is a bit of a slap in the face. He's done a great job at Justice - and now has to deal with the poison chalice of DEFRA. I suppose he is a big countryside campaigner - fervent opposition to the hunting ban beckons!

Fantastic news about Chris Grayling. He's by far the party's best operator and will give Labour hell in the run-up to the general election. Great news.

All very logical and sensible. Chris Grayling has the killer instinct (tho he's a nice guy!) so he can carry on the decapitating work of David Davis; Dominic Grieve is cerebral and will be superb in Justice; Caroline Spelman takes back her old job in DCLoG which she did so well previously; Theresa May has a good analytical mind for Work & Pensions; and Eric P will be a popular choice as Chairman.

Things look more balanced now, interesting to see how things will change. My message to Mr Pickles would be to get a news-response team in place to pull together quotes from appropriate shadow cabinet members in rapid response to breaking news events. Conservative management of the news is still woefully poor.

Absolutely brilliant!

Absolutely fantastic ... but am I alone in thinking that it feels like he stopped half way through? This has really freshened up the top half of the shadow cabinet, but what about the bottom half?!

Mundell could have been dropped and replaced with Laing, Willetts with Afriyie, Hammond with Greening, Maude with Vaizey, Gillan with Miller ...

Maybe not all of those, but was expecting to see Maria Miller and Justine Greening in. Surprised the only sacking was Ainsworth. Also thought Paterson was tipped for promotion.

Also, there are now 33 faces round the table! Hoped it would get smaller, not bigger!

But Clarke, Grayling and Pickles are fantastic promotions, and Grieve and Herbert are both in the right places!

As long as Ken doesn't unbalance things,this looks like a fantastic reshuffle! Nice to see Chris Grayling move up the ladder, Eric Pickles is great news, and Duncan vs. Harman is going to be really entertaining!

I am sorry not to have seen David Davis' name in the list because we need his talents but the overall look of the team is very good.

I hope that John Redwood, Michael Fallon and Iain Duncan Smith will all be brought in for specific jobs - to bolster the Treasury team and, in IDS' case to carry on his excellent work in social reform, which will prove as important as the economy over the next decade.

Pickles and Grayling should mean a much tougher and hard hitting team. There have been a few too many round pegs in square holes recently but this team looks much better. Pickles is literally a round peg in a round hole.

Dan Hannan makes this point on his blog :

"If Ken Clarke can be on the front bench, so can MPs who want to leave the EU"

Since Clarke has been allowed to be a member of the Shadow Cabinet whilst at the same time being allowed to maintain his disloyal views on Europe, will those who have signed up to the 'Better Off Out' campaign now, in principle, be eligible for membership of the Shadow team? If not, why not?

Perhaps, Editor, you might care to establish with the powers that be what the leadership's Official position now is on this.

Good points as ever David. John Redwood should certainly have a special remit, and IDS is certainly a man of talent, although IDS must get out of the idea that poverty is a result of personal sloth.

Now that Chris Grayling is shadow Home Secretary I hope he will do more to help our police get on with the job of maintaining law and order on our streets. The appalling scenes of riot in Manchester at the end of the UEFA cup final last year are an example of how our police are often powerless to defend people, property and themselves. We should allow our police the use of water cannons and other methods when dealing with mob rule.

I should have added that the excellent, hard-working and astoundingly cheap (to the taxpayer, that is) Philip Hollobone ought to be a beneficiary of a change in this policy. His diligence and thriftiness ought to be an example to all.

I agree, James. Herbert has done well.

It was necessary though in order to let Grieve save face after he got Cameron out of something of a hole by replacing Davis as he did. My own view is that although Grayling gets a great write up on here and he undoubtedly works hard there is some "connection" with the public or spark missing whenever I see him.

Dan Hannan makes this point on his blog :

"If Ken Clarke can be on the front bench, so can MPs who want to leave the EU"

Tory policy is, I believe, that the UK should be a part of the EU. Clarke merely has a view that differs as to what that means/how far we should be in. That is more compatable with policy than saying we should withdraw.

Overall I think the changes are good. There should be "something for everyone" as it were.

Like it! I hope there will be important roles too for David Davies, John Redwood, Michael Fallon, and Ian Duncan Smith.
After the election I expect to see roles for Frank Field, Kate Hooey and Vince Cable in Cameron's Government of all the talents.

The loss of Peter Ainsworth from Environment is deeply regrettable. He was exceptionally sound on environment policy, and very well respected by the environmental lobby. Nick Herbert will be nowhere near as good. It will be seen as yet another step back from a respectable green agenda for the party.

And whilst Dominic Grieve will be excellent at Justice, his move away from Home Affairs will be seen as a blow to the measured, reasonable and sound policy approach he had been adopting.

Overall, this reshuffle appears to put appearances before substance on policy matters. That may help us get elected, but it will not help us to govern well or to get re-elected. The silver lining is that policy in CLG may well improve.

Huntsman - will any of the BOO group undertake as Clarke has done to recognise their differences but say they were "not going to be trying to get the party to change its policy."?

Doubt it somehow.

Would like to see John Redwood and David Davis back on the front bench but generally not a bad day.

Still the big message remains: Better Off Out.

I thought Grieve had a ctually been a success. His sweet reasonableness struck a chord with me and he always held the moral high ground with Jacqui Smith.
Delighted for Chris Grayling though, he's been one of our best media performers over the past year.
I'm pretty sure Eric Pickles will be a more dynamic Party Chairman than Caroline Spelman and hope that if he resists the temptation to try to be funny all the time he'll be a much better spokesman in the media.
Herbert with his background should also be a formidable operator in his new role but I'm slightly disappointed that he's moving on. He had some very good ideas at Justice.
The only slight doubt in my mind is that I'm wondering whether Cameron is reluctant to sack people. Ainsworth was not the only Shadow Cabinet member who was all but invisible to the public and some of them are lucky not to have paid a price for that.

Yet another nail in the coffin of Melissa Kite's credibility. Only a week ago she splashed the news in the Sunday Telegraph that Damian Green would be promoted to the Shadow Cabinet. Yet again, her reshuffle exclusives have proved to be total rubbish. How long must we put up with this stupid hack?

Great news all round. Clarke returning is a masterstroke complementing a very strong front bench of Cameron, Hague, Osbourne and Grayling. We will no doubt see a marked increase in the polls due to these changes. A great team to lead us into the next election.

At 33 members it's a re-waffle.

Am loving this reshuffle!
It certainly has made my day, and it chimes with a party putting itself in a GE campaign footing. We have certainly beefed up the media performers in the Shadow Cabinet too.

Grayling against Smith is going to be interesting, and the thought of Hunky Dunky facing Harman is a battle to relish.


Whilst I am looking forward to Ken Clarke being back in action, after reading the above I am looking forward to Thesera May in her new post. She has a proven track record in the City, and I think she will continue the good work startd by Grayling. As for pary Chairman, I think that was a forgone conclusion, not my personal choice but still a good one none the less. Nice to see Spelman being placed as a shadow secretary for communities and local government, I think the good work she has done internally in the party will benefit her well in regards to putting policies together for strengthening local governments. Herbert will bring a good background to the rural affair, environment post and should not be seen as a demotion. Sensible to place Grieve in at Justice and likewise with Grayling as shadow home secretary. I don't see how David Davis will be brought back, maybe he has been judged as too risky, however I am sure there is still more announcements to come.

Exciting stuff. Grayling will be excellent although I wanted DD. He will demolish Smith but in that nice, gentle way that he has.

Herbert and Harman - well at least she gets a 'quota' to shout at. Nick is brill and will be good.

Nice to see that Spelman is back in her old job at which she was excellent.

Mark Francois is v. good and underestimated in Europe, glad to see he is staying put.

Bring on that General Election.

Dominic Grieve's biography on conservatives.com now says "Shadow Attorney General November 2003 - January 2009", so expect a new one!

Clarke is an obese, jovial, bully and much too old for the Job. Get John Redwood instead.

It makes me distrust Cameron on Europe.

I think posters should be very careful before they berate Cameron for not including X or Y.

To my certain knowledge, at least 2 highly-regarded MPs have refused promotion because of particular and private personal circumstances which it is not appropriate to publicise.

Good to see Clarke back and in a role that will allow him to have real input in the economic recovery. Firget his European views, he knows that for his comeback to not rebound he must not rock the boat over Tory policy, thus his comments this morning. Interesting to see Europe is a Cabinet responsibility, now equal to the rest of foreign policy put together...

As for the other changes, looks like everyone moves one step to the left round the circle. Not pleased to see a promotion for May, who I find underwhelms. I do hope she doesnt merge her anti-men issues with her new role. Shall not be pleased if she does.

This is truly an excellent reshuffle.

I've consistently maintained that Cameron's biggest problem by far is a weak frontbench. He's clearly understood this but simply has a bad hand of cards. Not much to work with, because our results in 1997 and 2001 were so bad -- there simply isn't enough talent in the current parliamentary party.

Also recognizing that Osborne simply wasn't able to handle both his general responsibilities as chairman-in-all-but-name and main strategist in addition to dealing with the worst economic crisis in a generation, DC make the hard-headed assessment that he HAD to bring back Clarke. But he negotiated well. Clarke's statement that he accepts DC's leadership on Europe, together with the "promotion" of Hague and the promotion to the shadow cabinet of the very sound Mark Francois boxes in Clarke. The Conservative Party line on Europe is clear and sound. If Clarke diverges from it, all Cameron has to do is refer back to Clarke's statement today -- breaking his word is an obvious sacking offense.

I've been wondering what's in it for Clarke and have concluded that he must really love the political game, and that he genuinely believes in the necessity to overthrow Labour. Those are good reasons to be involved because it means he won't want to lose the job over something silly. Of course, Mandy will try to stir up trouble and undoubtedly there will be very many Clarke quotes coming from Brown at the next few PMQs but this is a tactical mistake, assuming Clarke sticks to the deal -- because it serves to build up Clarke.

At the end of the day, I don't share any of Clarke's views on Europe, and disagree with him on many other issues as well -- but he has great presence, is not a toff, has experience and understanding and we can turn the broken record of the Labour party still running against the last Conservative government on its head. Now, we'll reframe that period --people's memories are short-- as the "golden inheritance" that Brown squandered. I look forward to seeing Clarke seated next to DC at next week's PMQs and to his return, for the first time in opposition!, to the frontbench!

But DC did much more than that: he gave us an excellent chairman, who is also someone with appeal to a different type of voter than the Notting Hill set. We need that and Pickles further promotion is a good move.

But then best move may be hidden in the headlines: Grieve I thought was quite unsuitable as Home Secretary. As I've pointed out he just doesn't have the iron fist as good HS simply needs. And much too friendly for Islam. Grieve's promotion was only necessary because the unreliable Davis abandoned ship. I think Grieve now finds himself in a position he's much better suited to -- and Chris Grayling is simply an excellent politician. Smart, aggressive, hard-working, and gritty. An inspired choice for Home Secretary and a very welcome addition to the top-team.

A top team that now consists of Cameron, Osborne, Hague, Clarke, Grayling and Pickles. I like it. These are sound, strong men that appeal to a variety of voters and certainly have the competence to run Britain.

On details: glad to see Herbert moving up. Cameron is in an impossible position with the women, really need some good women in the new parliamentary candidates. I don't like May on Pensions, but what was DC going to do?

Was a bit surprised not to see the return of IDS.

I voted for Clarke for leader because I wanted to see the party move in a more centrist and progressive direction, based upon solid Conservative principles. I find it very interesting to note that Cameron has now brought him back to the front bench. Clarke hasn't changed his views that much, but the party has (discounting Europe). Cameron has implemented the change we required far more effectively that I could have wished for, and arguably more effectively than Clarke would have been able or allowed to. We have now what we were never properly offered before, a Cameron-Clarke dream ticket.

Now that Theresa May has the remit for DWPs perhaps she might look again at the proposed plans for workfare and tell us if any work undertaken by the jobless is going to be paid at the going rate, which under current law should at least be paid at the level of the minimum wage? After all Theresa May has, quite rightly, made great issue of the question of fair pay for women, so how about fair pay for the unemployed too?

Truth is, Ken's return is an admission by the party that bringing back Mandelson has worked, and has forced DC into a response.

Not impressed. No David Davis. No John Redwood. Its half a shuffle, if that. Not the inspirational announcement I was hoping for.

Excellent reshuffle which uses the talent available brilliantly.

Have those of you calling for John Redwood to return ever discussed him with a normal voter? I say this as one of his biggest fans, his blog is one of the most intelligent and inciteful on the web, but he comes accross terribly on TV and most voters are totally put off by him.

I would hope some role can be found for him when we are in government whereby he can prove his worth and build his public image as a brilliant mind. Until he can do that however he (wrongly) comes across as a strange and untrustworthy individual.

"..but he (Redwood) comes accross terribly on TV and most voters are totally put off by him".

I just don't accept this, RobD; I have watched him in debate in the HoC and saw him with Vince Cable on Paxman. I have just heard him on lunchtime radio (again with Vince Cable) and each time he seemed to me to be thoroughly clued up, reasonable, quiet and persuasive.

In his blogs, he has been ahead of all the parties in his analyses and arguments. If he were to become the shadow First Secretary to the Treasury, he would be ideal - and I would stop arguing against Osborne remaining in his present post!

Well, that's the deck-chairs on the Titanic re-arranged...

Nice one!

I have actually heard of most of these people.

Now David Davis and David Trimble....and John Redwood....and joy- it will look like a cracking good government in waiting.

Great stuff. Pleased to see Chris Grayling in the Home Office - he will take Smith to the cleaners. And Duncan vs. Harman every week is going to be unmissable. As long as Clarke keeps his word then we're fine but who knows... Admittedly surprised about May in DWP but on reflection I think she'll do a good job. She seems sharp, been around a bit so knows how to get to grips with a new brief and covered employment before. Even more surprised that Nick Herbert's gone from justice - i thought he was doing a cracking job there and feel sympathy for Peter Ainsworth. But all in all a good outcome.

Particularly great news is that Greg Hands has been promoted: a canny operator in the Commons with a forensic mind. And also a bloody nice guy.

Michael Portillo just gave an extremely supportive interview on the BBC News Channel. Was very supportive of Ken's return, and of Cameron, Hague and Osborne ... maybe he is taking a leaf out of Ken's book and is hoping for a job in the new administration?! Certainly more supportive than Barry Legg, who seems to be running around all the studios saying how divisive Ken Clarke is, and thus fulfilling his own prophecy! Legg is the one showing divisions today, not Ken Clarke!

So the Shadow Minister for Europe is now in the Shadow Cabinet!

How does this fit with not banging on about Europe?Clearly the Tories are gearing up to take us into the Euro in their second term.

Cream buns all round.

Michael, not sure if you get emails from Dave, but tonight he sent one which said the following:

"Having done an excellent job as Shadow Europe Minister Mark is well-placed to prepare us for the European elections coming up in June, and to fend off any resurrection of the idea of joining the Euro."

Eco-Towns are a global phenomenon, being developed in countries like China, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Ireland, Dubai etc.

Eco-Towns are exemplar developments intended to pioneer sustainable living and lead the rest of the nation.

Nick Herbert has an Eco-Town proposal in his own constituency and is vigorously opposed to it for entirely NIMBY reasons.

Nick Herbert hasn't a clue what environmental leadership is all about and his appointment demonstartes the "faux" nature of the Conservative Party's approach to environmental matters.

For me, not particularly exciting moves. Whatever their merits in terms of what they bring to the cabinet mix, and I'm not close enough to know that, if you asked the average voter who most of these people were, I doubt many of them would have a clue. Let's hope that some of them at least start to make a positive impression on the public.

Ken Clarke's return is, I think, disappointing. He may be a known face but I think his views in many areas are not compatible with where we should be going as a party and country. It doesn't send much of a positive message for change dragging out the same old faces. Frankly there ought to be more contemporary faces capable of challenging Mandleson.

James Hopkins | January 19, 2009 at 20:31
>>Michael Portillo just gave an extremely supportive interview on the BBC News Channel. Was very supportive of Ken's return, and of Cameron, Hague and Osborne ... maybe he is taking a leaf out of Ken's book and is hoping for a job in the new administration?!<<

I know everybody will shout at me for this, but I would actually love to see Michael Portillo back on board. I think he'd be a brilliant asset (in the right job.)

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