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I meant also to mention that the above link also reported Ken Clarke doesn't support David Cameron's flagship policies on the family and would resist recognition of marriage in the tax system.

Michael McGowan @ 16:12 - inverted snobbery is as deeply unpleasant as the other variety! Caroline Spelman may be a wealthy woman but that really has no relevance to her abilities. As for Jeremy Hunt, he may come from a family with money but he certainly made his own, setting up a company, Hotcourses. In addition he has used large amounts of money to help those less fortunate than himself.

Disagree with all of those comments except for Ken Clarke. Eric Pickles is rapidly disillusioning Tory Councillors. Graham Brady did not leave at the low point of Cameron's leadership, he was the caus of it - and he would be the cause again.

I am sure these are decent people, but these changes are not right.

"the case in favour of Villiers had to be one of Tim's more bizarre posts, hopefully it was brought on by too much brandy on his Christmas Pud."

Tim, really, what's behind this? Do you fear that Villiers' spot will be taken by someone you approve of? None of your reasons make any sense - you even say you don't agree with her views on Heathrow !

I don't think that merely robot like parroting one line and picking a fight with Boris is sufficient to keep some bloody brilliant, sharp and energetic people out of the Cabinet.

Theresa will make a great Minister of State, but Cabinet material she really is not. Her appearances on media when she has a chance to speak her mind seems to send her into a shiver, she has all smoothness of a Disney animatronic.

Sending out press releases and appealing to pressure groups may have served her as MEP but Cabinet requires a higher political skillset which she has yet to demonstrate.

Not sure who's knobbled Tim but hopefully time will change his mind.


I think Ken Clarke should be brought back if he is prepared to say publicly that he was wrong about the Euro - otherwise no.

But we need John Redwood to add intellectual weight in the shadow cabinet. My friends, who are apolitical have a grudging admiration for Redwood - only the died in the wool Guardian readers will try to make fun of him.

Dominic Grieves as Shadow Home Secretary has been very impressive. If it is my choice, I would put David Davis to shadow Mrs Dormey.

I also like the dignified manner of Caroline Spelman and she should stay.

Many are fooled by Patrick Mercer’s public persona some believe him to be benevolent and others perceive a self-serving, indifferent and cold calculating man. Mercer said: "I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours", later he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that in his 25-year military career he had only TWICE come across soldiers claiming racism when disciplined for poor performance. Lord Taylor, was right Mercer’s comments were "insensitive" especially so to the plight of the black and ethnic minority soldiers suffering racism in the British Army.

Alan Duncan said that Mr Mercer appeared to be indifferent to the fact that someone was taunted for being black and that was also the opinion of the bereaved people of Dunblane after Mr Mercer’s remarks "crass and appalling" caused protests in Scotland. 16 primary school children and a teacher riddled with bullets from the gun of a madman and Mercer cannot perceive sufficient cause to ban handguns. He was quoted as saying that banning handguns because people got shot was like banning cars because people were killed in road accidents.

When innocent Jean Charles de Menezes was held on the ground and shot in the head Mercer sided with the Police and he was the man that was reported to have used the National Blood Service in a publicity stunt to donate blood which he could not give, so don’t tell me Mercer should come back or his sacking was an error of judgement because you have not troubled to scratch beyond his cloak of benevolence and "warm flowery words", and the Devil they say looks after his own and so I fully expect just like Lex Luthor or Professor Moriarty, we have not seen the last of drumbeater Patrick Mercer.

John H, it is very clear that you are no fan of Patrick Mercer. I do not know the man so really cannot comment on whether he is nice or nasty! However, the fact is that he was doing quite identifiable work in an area that since he stepped down has been totally and utterly neglected - so if he is not put back into looking after "Homeland Security" then someone else must be. At a time when IslamIST terrorism is becoming more and more a Topic Du Jour, it is vital that we re-institute this policy area!
As for your comment about the Blood Service - I believe that was a little cheap. The fact is that the Blood Service has very strict criteria about giving blood and even if you are a regular donor (as I am) you are not always able to give every time you turn up - if you have the slightest cold or cough they will send you away. This is to protect those who will receive the blood.

The Shadow Cabinet is due for a shake up - John Hayes has done some excellent work on his brief and is one of the Conservative Party's star performers. He should either remain in his current position or be promoted. I would like to see more of him on Question Time and other TV slots.

Equally, the time is now probably right to bring Ken back - the Party's position on the EU and the constitution is settled so there is no reason for Ken to pipe up outside a new post of Shadowing Mandelson. It would be an excellent contrast - straight talking man of the people Ken or the slippery snake oil salesman Mandelson. Would you buy a car from the self styled Prince of Darkness? Precisely!!

Sally, you clearly haven't got a clue what inverted snobbery is. You also can't read, so keen are you to ingratiate yourself with the Cameroons.

As many others have pointed out,Caroline Spelman has been a pretty ineffectual Party Chairman and comes over very badly on television. Her much-vaunted abilities are not exactly visible to the naked eye. Her wealthy and privileged background, like Jeremy Hunt's, reinforce the impression, which Labour will continue to exploit, that the Tory Party is tightly run by a gilded patrician clique insulated from the reality of ordinary people's lives. That may upset the grandees of Godalming but tough. The feudal system passed away in the nineteenth century and that is how hard-pressed floating voters will perceive things.

I know that Hunt set up a business called Hotcourses. Good for him, although it is hardly Microsoft. The fact remains that he was head boy of one of the most prestigious public schools in the country and read PPE at Magdalen College, Oxford. In short, a Cameron lookalike.

As for his charitable donations, I have no doubt that he is a generous man but this is utterly irrelevant to the point I was making. By the way, are you implying that there are no other generous Tory MPs?

"You also can't read, so keen are you to ingratiate yourself with the Cameroons."

Ingratiate myself with??? Oh Michael, don't you realise Cameroons 'r Us!

Sally Roberts:

Patrick Mercer, was the prospective Conservative candidate for Newark when he acted as a blood donor in Newark and just days afterwards Retford.

Mr Mercer said: "I did give blood at Newark and had every intention of giving blood in Retford. I went through all the checks but, shortly after the photo was taken, I was informed that I could not give blood as I was within the time limit".

Mr Mercer attended the session at St Joseph’s Church Hall with a photographer but was not allowed to donate due to the short time since his previous donation. Mr Mercer, then asked to be photographed, for the local newspaper and the staff agreed to this to generate some local publicity for the forthcoming sessions unfortunately the staff were unaware of the previous story and the potential for printing a misleading message about the minimum interval between donations.

So I think Sally, the only thing cheap was the way Patrick Mercer was willing to use the National Blood Service for political advantage.

1. DD has to be restored as Shadow HS in place of the lamentable Dominic Grieve, who seems only too pleased to up the bidding in the ongoing auction of our civil liberties.
2. John Redwood, because he's the best economics brain the Conservative's have. And, boy, we're going to need it all.

As for Mr Cameron, the option of being a 'good' PM is no longer available - circumstances dictate he must be a 'great' one or a disaster for the country. Unwillingness to include the best and brightest in his shadow cabinet does not inspire confidence that DC can transcend his currently-visible limitations.

Yet again, I agree with Tim. Keep Theresa. Bring back Graham Brady.

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