Friday, June 22, 2007

Telegraph Column: Cameron's Reshuffle

By this time next week Gordon Brown will have restructured Whitehall and formed his first Cabinet. David Cameron will then rejig his team once he knows who his opponents are. Brown's reshuffle is likely to be radical, with almost half the existing Blair Cabinet expected to retire gracefully or be kicked out of Number 10 screaming.

Cameron hates reshuffles, believing that moving people every year creates disharmony, instability and bad policy. His priority in responding to Brown's team will be to put round pegs in round holes. Cameron's instinct is not to radically alter the look of his team, but only to make changes that are forced by Brown's appointments. Cameron knows, though, that some surprises from Brown might force him to be more radical than he is inclined to be.

William Hague, David Davis and George Osborne will all stay put. In Hague's and Davis's case, any attempt to move them could have dire consequences. Hague loves his current job and has no desire to take on the shadow chancellorship or the party chairmanship. Davis has been the shadow cabinet's most effective media performer at Home Affairs and would not take kindly to being moved.

The only top job where there could be a move is the party chairmanship. After only two years, Francis Maude is the longest-serving chairman since Lord Thorneycroft. He has acted as a lightning rod for Cameron and his internal party reforms are coming to fruition.

Whether he is moved largely depends on whether Cameron wants a chairman who will look after the party organisation, or a rottweiler who will spend most of his time attacking Labour. There is much speculation that Chris Grayling is being groomed for the role. If Maude is dispatched, he would be justified in feeling aggrieved. A lot of what he has done at Conservative HQ is below the radar and only starting to emerge after some serious long-term planning.

Last month there was much speculation that Liam Fox was destined for the chop. He was felt by people around Cameron to have under-performed in his defence portfolio. But the reaction from the party's grassroots to an article in the Sunday Telegraph, predicting his demise, together with an upswing in his attitude, seems to have saved the day.

Another unresolved area is what to do about the Ministry of Justice. Many think David Davis should continue to shadow both Home Affairs and the new ministry, but it is important to reflect the structure of government, and I would expect Cameron to make an overdue promotion and ask shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve to take on the role.

Brown is expected to beef up the Department of Trade and Industry, giving it the digital switchover from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and much of the Department for Education's employment brief. This should keep Ed Balls busy, but it might not be enough to satisfy Alan Duncan's craving for a top job. Duncan is becoming one of the party's star performers on TV and he rightly feels better use should be made of him.

There is much speculation about the future of David Willetts. It would be cruel to sack him for doing his leader's bidding, but the hot rumour of the week is that he will be moved rather than fired, and be replaced by Michael Gove. This would make sense if Brown keeps Alan Johnson at education. Willetts performs best when he has an opponent who does not have attack-dog tendencies, and Johnson most certainly does.

Many Conservatives believe that if the party is serious about preparing for government, Cameron should bring in a few greybeards with experience. I'm told they will be disappointed. Cameron believes the only way to fight Brown's Cabinet of new faces is to freshen up his own team with some young, energetic members of the class of 2005. Gove is one, Ed Vaizey might be another and Maria Miller could be the third.

Whoever Cameron promotes, it is his intention to avoid further reshuffles before the election unless events dictate otherwise. This will be his team for government.
Click HERE to read the Telegraph readers' reaction to my article.


The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

Just watching Question time now.
has Peter Hitchens got any more Brothers/Sisters?

David Lindsay said...

Which Lib Dems is Cameron going to offer jobs? Of course, that's a trick question: anyone prepared to accept a job from Cameron, or whom he might ever even consider offering one, must be a Lib Dem, simply by definition.

Peter Hitchens has just outed Andrew Adonis as among the prominent Blairite figures whom the Tories, as the heirs to Blair, have been and are trying to poach.

It was of course the Tory position on grammar schools that killed the deal: Adonis could never accept the closure of the remaining grammar schools, the Tory policy that represents the only remaining difference of any kind between the two parties.

Well, this is all now out in the open. So, any responses? Or even rebuttals? And, in this new spirit of openness, who else is anyone going to name?

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

If there had been a Question Time on the 9th May 1940, would it have looked like this?

Anonymous said...

Where did you get this?

Straight from Cameron's fag?

Being Lobby trained are you?

Do tell.

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

Shirley Williams=David Lloyd George
Hitchen Bros=Amery Bros (John or Julian, but which is which?)
Boris= (pls fill in)
Bloke from Labour party=bloke from labour party nobody had heard of (Greenwood)
Dimbleby=(pls fill in)

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

if your upset with someone give them a ring/nudge
flaming in such a manner is as dull as, well, Calais.

Anonymous said...


My comment pertains to the original post.

Anonymous said...

"Cameron should bring in a few greybeards with experience"

Nobody worth having would work with the guy.

Tapestry said...

The gremlins are out in force on the web today. Probably trying to stifle comment at this sensitive time.

Cameron might do better to hold his fire. The Conservatives are all wound up getting ready to play Brown. But he'll be hiding in his bunker 9 days out of 10, waiting for Cameron to make a move, which he will then respond to.

His own side will be in total confusion as to what he's up to, as he only ever gives out the minimum.

Cameron should play the new game and not carry on as if Blair were still there hoovering up all the limelight. With Brown as PM, limelight wil be going cheap.

It will be like hunting a bear that lives in a cave, which only comes out once every two weeks to give an awful terrifying roar, and then disappears again while the rest of the world wonders what it all meant.

If Cameron can provide a feeling of calm and continuity, that will tend to make people feel they would prefer that to an ursine roar. less action, more meaning and reassurance will be at a premium during the Brown Terror.

Anonymous said...

The very last thing the Party or Cameron needs is a few greybeards in prominent positions!

For heavens' sake, it's 2007, not 1987; we need people with new ideas, new energy, and a feel for today not yesterday.

Anonymous said...

If Cameron promotes Grieve then I am leaving the party. I am sick of tory politicians who feel they can create policy in any area of government from their frontbench position and in Grieve's position he knows he is always going to be saved by his comrade Davis. He makes our party look divided and will cost us the next election. We have had over 10 years of looking like a joke and I am not going to wait for Grieve to put us back in the same place we were in 1995.

Tapestry said...

Why would it have dire consequences to move Hague? 'he loves his current job', they write

Hague's associated with past failure. He loves writing books, and has stated that he intends to quit frontline politics. Is that the best we can do?

There's something here that doesn't quite make sense. Is there one of these behind the scenes deals here? Ken Clarke's agreed to keep quiet about Europe if Hague's kept in place blocking eurosceptic initiatives?

What are the dire consequences of allowing Hague to retire and move on? What do you know Iain that brings out the words 'dire consequences'?

Anonymous said...

I think getting rid of Oliver Heald would be a huge mistake. I met him recently in Devon and he is a incredibly nice man. I have also heard the same thing from a tory hating friend of mine in Wales.

Anonymous said...

So Basher likes Fox and hates Willetts. What a surprise!

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous 9.29, your comment betrays ignorance. Believe it or not my comments are written with my own brain - not DD's. DD has a lot of time for Willetts. He supported him in the leadership if you remember.

Anonymous said...

I would want to hear more from Gove on exactly what Tory housing policy is before he gets a bigger job. He has been vague when speaking on his brief

Anonymous said...

Willetts supported Basher for awhile. Then he told Basher he wanted to change horses. Basher threatened to break Willetts' legs if he did. Willetts caved.

You must know all this, yet you try to stick to the flannel that they are best mates.


Anonymous said...

Is it a full moon again, or have I not had much sleep. Why do 90% of the comments on here today make no sense whatsoever?

Chris Paul said...

"His team for government"?! That may work in the Telegraph in the CCHQ official news column. But purleease. His team for perpetual opposition more like. You might be better to write the next column or the one after on "Who will get the nod when Cameron fails to break through?"

Housing Gove is Katie Apprentice's long lost brother btw. Not a lot of people know that.

Has she got a safe seat yet?

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous 9.43. I was there at the time. I had many discussions with both DD and DW. It was nothing like you suggest.

Anonymous said...

In the interests of proportinality I would like to say that i will join the Conservative Party if Dominic Grieve is appointed to the Cabinet in this reshuffle.

He is an excellent Parliamentarian and feared adversary.

I do not believe he has either abused his position as shadow Attorney General nor relied unduly on DD's support.

To use a Daleism I think certain commenters might benefit from rereading what Iain actually says!

Anonymous said...

Proportionality & Shadow Cabinet apply above.

Anonymous said...

Licking the Chairman's boots Iain!!

Maude is the worst chairman the Tories have ever had. Indeed he should Chair the party he is more in tune with, The Lib Dems.

Move him please YESTERDAY.
What an absolute WET

Anonymous said...

If Camoron shuffled off, it might be a cause for celebration. He must start hitting Broon hard, otherwise another period of opposition looms. If Broon offered PR to the Limp Dems, would they take it simply to condem the Tories to opposition?

Look at the 'success' of Blair's education policy with reference to low GCSE grades ie those below grade C, there is a serious problem in the UK- an education system which turns out large numbers of barely literate or numerate boys, incapbe of making a worthwhile contribution to the labour force. Is it any wonder that employers will take on Eastern Europeans in prefence to this 'underclass' of Brits.

Camoron has to raise his game if he wants to be PM, and so far he has still to land damaging punches on Brown. He is begining to look as if he is on borrowed time.

Little Black Sambo said...

Judith said, "For heavens' sake, it's 2007, not 1987; we need people with new ideas, new energy, and a feel for today not yesterday."
Spoken like Tony Blair.

Mike Wood said...

Surely Francis Maude has a few months to go before he overtakes Ancram's 2.5 years as Party Chairman

Anonymous said...

Still no comment on the 'issues' in DD's office!?

I suppose it is easier just to discuss unduly optimistic promotions for DD's team than the poor people he bullies and fires unreasonably

Anonymous said...

Have William Hague or David Davis ever done anything useful as Shadow Foreign and Home Secretary respectively?

Anonymous said...

I think Iain Dale should be more of a man and admit that DC should fire DD. If he doesn't he will be forced to stick with a damaging Gordon Brown type figure.

In addition it would take all the limelight off Brown for his first few days and make DC seem like a real leader (which the polls show nobody thinks he is!).

No more of the idiotic fight for the right wing of the party - they aren't going anywhere else as there is nowhere else to go. It is the left wing of the party (or the centre ground)that we should be concerned about - they are the ones that a liable to vote for the Lib Dems and Labour and prevent us getting back to government for another 10 years.

This is DC's only chance to change the fortunes of the party for good and if he keeps DD and his cronies in then the party might as well give up and start saving for election 2015.

Sir-C4' said...

Promote David "Top Cat" Davies to the shadow cabinet.

Anonymous said...

his internal party reforms are coming to fruition

Not quite, I think you'll find there are still a few members left.

Anonymous said...

Its getting hard to follow who stands where, what with St. Tony to the right of Thatcher, Cameron to the left of Broon and Ming oscillating.

Perhaps we should disband all parties and start again

Anonymous said...

In a world where transferring the digital switchover brief is "beefing up" the DTI, anything is possible... This brief is already 50% DTI (50% DCMS), and is practically outsourced as a purely logistical exercise to Digital UK.

Get the real facts right Mr Dale and maybe we'll start taking you seriously on the fluff...