The key thing in any reshuffle is to put the right people in the right jobs. By that measure, this morning's shuffle has drastically improved things in the Shadow Cabinet. There are now very few square pegs in round holes.
Obviously the return of Ken Clarke will get the headlines, but some of the other changes are potentially very significant. I would highlight the move of Nick Herbert to Environment, Food & Rural Affairs as one. Peter Ainsworth made very little impact with this brief so a change needed to be made. Nick Herbert's background on countryside issues will stand him in good stead and together with Jim Paice, he will hopefully make a lot of headway on the issue of agriculture and food. The 'green' side of the job is now predominantly under the remit of Greg Clark, but he and Clark are known to get on and work well together anyway, so that bodes well.
The promotion of Chris Grayling to replace Dominic Grieve is an interesting one. Dominic will now replace Nick Herbert at Justice, which although he may feel slightly disappointed by, is where he will feel very much at home. Cameron clearly felt that a more attacking style was needed in Home Affairs, and while many were pressing him to restore David Davis to the job, it was frankly never going to happen. Grayling's attacking style is needed in that job, and I hope he will still have a licence to take the Labour Party to task more generally too.
Eric Pickles, always the Party Members' choice for Party Chairman has got his wish. He needs to hit the ground running and clearly define the role. If George Osborne is to continue to manage general election preparations then Pickles' role is twofold - to gee up the troops and get on the media at every available opportunity. Eric may have a face for radio, but he's got the Ken Clarke 'normal bloke' appeal and needs to create the highest media profile possible - and his colleagues should not feel jealous by it - they should welcome it.
Alan Duncan's loyalty is rewarded by a move to be Shadow Leader of the House, a job he should relish. It also gives him licence to move across a number of policy areas and to become a further Shadow Minister for the Today programme.
Caroline Spelman's return to the local government brief might seem odd, as she has been there before, from 2004 to 2007. But she knows the territory and was thought to have handled the subject well in the past. And Theresa May is moving to Work & Pensions. In some ways this is the strangest move of the entire reshuffle, but I imagine the Tories want to present a softer face on this issue as it moves up the political agenda. Theresa will do a very good job.
So all in all, this was a reshuffle with only one headline which the electorate will take any notice of, but that's a good thing. It has also been conducted extremely smoothly so far, although I suspect there is going to be a lot more blood letting and gnashing of teeth among the middle and lower ranks later today.
Still no real job for John Redwood. Why?
while many were pressing him to restore David Davis to the job, it was frankly never going to happen.
I'd be interested in why you thought it was never going to happen Iain. In the same way that it strengthens the team to have Clarke back, it would have surely strengthened the team even more to have DD back too. Yet Cameron appears to view this as a bridge too far. Is it that Cameron genuinely doesn't rate DD as highly as most people do, or is simply being petty?
John Redwood scares the horses. Scares me too.
No mention of Mark Francois? as unkeen on the EU as Ken Clarke is keen.
This is an election year after all.
Shame there was no role for Damien Green!
Sorry, should have said "no new role for Damien Green". He still has immigration as far as I know.
Great - Radio 5 live pointless argument about 20 year old problems on Europe.
Truth is, Ken's return is an admission by the party that bringing back Mandelson has worked, and has forced DC into a response.
Paul Linford has gotten in before me on the omittion of DD.
Bringing Clarke back gives the front bench some real weight (haha!) and governmental experience. But surely bringing DD back into the shadow cabinet would have given a terrifically strong foundation for the public to build confidence on in the lead up to an election.
I think Cameron's missed an opportunity (made a mistake?) purely on the grounds of him not being entirely sure he could keep DD reigned in 24/7.
However, living in the stulfifyingly grim city of Wakefield, we're currently going through the selection process of whose pig is going to wear the Red Rosette, so it doesn't make any different what Cameron does.
For Gods Sake someone bury Barry Legge somewhere near Australia.
Well done Iain for appearing, and at least showing that there is a sensible side to Conservative politicians.
A short messsage to Mr Legge. When a presenter on a channel hardly known for its Pro Conservative views asks you if your political opponents (that is this Labour Government) will be rubbing their hands together at your statement, surely you have the sense to SHUT UP.
NUMBER ONE PRIORITY - GET RID OF LABOUR AND BROWN. If you cant see that and sign up for it then there are not words strong enough for this blog that will express my disgust at your selfishness.
As Lola said...
Frankly any Tory that criticises any element of this reshuffle has a death wish and should shuffle off to their twilight in Hastings.
McShane is being amusingly roughed up on CiF.
DD whilst leaving for honorable reasons left a mess in his wake which Cameron had to clear up.
You can't be seen to allow this sort of behaviour and then invite the person responsible back in at the next available opportunity.
His return may still come but he deserves to serve out his time on the back benches for a while yet.
Nick Herbert sacked? I am not surprised. His stint at shadow justice secretary has shown him up for the blithering idiot that he is.
Lola, if you have to ask, then there is no point telling you.
Welcome back, Ken Clarke.
And goodbye, Hyacinth (since he "walks behind the horse with a bucket", he is Hyacinth Bucket), to be followed rapidly by David Cameron.
Clarke himself will not become Leader. But someone (David Davis?) who could reasonably claim to be a serious politician will. And that would be quite a change.
Clarke is outside the Tory mainstream on Europe? How, exactly? The Tories are the party of the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty, eighteen consecutive annual votes to approve the Common Agricultural Policy (with only the tiniest handful of rebels, towards the very hand), eighteen consecutive annual votes to approve the Common Fisheries Policy (likewise), the withdrawal of the whip from an infinitesimal number of MPs who had merely abstained on increased British funding of the EU, the deselection of a Maastricht rebel and of no other MP ever on the European issue, the fake call for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty rather than for its simple rejection by Parliament, and the refusal to promise to campaign for a No vote in the extremely unlikely event of any such referendum.
Even the vague promise to revisit the CFP, an old Major hand like Michael Howard’s nod to Euroscepticism, has been ditched by Cameron, Michael Heseltine’s mini-me. The Tories have not left the European People’s Party, and they never will.
Meanwhile, this is a golden opportunity to amend the Standing Orders of both Houses so as to require that Ministers appear to answer questions in either House as required, rather than only in that of which they are members.
The Tories could embarrass the Government (and do the right thing) by putting down such an amendment. What is stopping them?
Caroline Spelman's return to the local government brief might seem odd, as she has been there before, from 2004 to 2007.
Phew, I thought the demotion was because of something else.
To be quite honest, who will miss some of these people, completely unknown outside of the Westmister village
Who's going to be shadow Attorney, Iain? The Tories are creating the impression that they're not taking this role seriously by leaving it not properly filled for so many months, which is odd because I reckon the job would be a vital one if the Tories get in - arriving at a clear, sustainable legal view of, say, how to repeal the Human Rights Act, or what the existing EU treaties allow, would be vital, and I think serious work should be done now. Have I missed something?
Oh because you're a big expert Jailhouse Lawyer. What exactly are you at expert at? Axe swinging?
Peter Ainsworth rightly lost his job because he was useless, uninteresting, uninspiring and lacked any policy initiatives.
Theresa Villiers rightly lost her job because.... oh, wait a minute, she didn't. Why the hell not? She's just as unimpressive as Peter.
Pickles' role is twofold - to gee up the troops and get on the media at every available opportunity.
He did that in spades on World at One today, for sure!
Well this footsoldier, anyway!!
There seems to have been a move away from the "Toff" epithet.
Did you know, that both Ken Clarke and Ed Balls went to the same school.
The difference is, Ken went when it was a direst grant school and Balls went when it was fee paying.
Under Labour direct grants were abolished. If Ken had been born a little later he would not have benefitted from a first rate education, since he could not have afforded what Balls' parents could afford.
Ironic isn't it?
Firstly Iain, just returned from shopping but I heard you on Radio 5 Live and I would like to congratulate you. The fellow from the Bruges Group reminded me of the worst side of Ukip. One narrow view- which they have failed to further over the past five years!-
As a eurosceptic, after that rant by that idiot, The Bruges Group has lost a contributor!
I would also like to congratulate Cameron. But, without giving a front line job to John Redwood, and maintaining the utterly useless Spellman I cannot.
But the reshuffle has a positive look, especially Chris Grayling in Home Affairs.
I would loved to have seen David Davis and Malcolm Raffkind within the top team though.
Iain, you said "Eric Pickles, always the Party Members' choice for Party Chairman has got his wish. He needs to hit the ground running and clearly define the role".
I heard him on the World at One and he was excellent! If he carries on like the Tories have a winner!
So will the Shadows now treat their posts as full time jobs ?
I agree, bring back David Davis, to counter some of the more recent Labour spin and hypocrisy. It would also be another nail in the coffin of those pathetic "Bullingdon Boys" taunts.
Labour are on the run, let's keep them running.
"Truth is, Ken's return is an admission by the party that bringing back Mandelson has worked, and has forced DC into a response."
Err ... No. Quite the opposite. Bringing back Mandelson makes bringing back Ken quite respectable.
Lord Rio has not saved the banks, is not saving business and is not helping Browns poll ratings.
It was thought a clever idea at the time but when will people learn?
ALL Browns clever ideas have turned out disastrous (remember BoE 'independence' was actually BoE neutering).
So thanks to Brown, bringing back a figure who has great resonance with a great swathe of the 'non-political' electorate can proceed without a hitch.
I like David Davis (and I agree with his analysis) but he walked out and created a real problem for the opposition. Are we really saying that people can just swan in and out of the shadow cabinet at will?
Ken Clarke is cool. He's a strong character who will be a great help to DC. I'm glad DC is brushing aside the sycophants and the right wing extremists like Redwood and Davis.
Eric Pickles still needs an extremist make over.
Looks do matter.
right wing extremists like Redwood and Davis.
Eric Pickles still needs an extremist make over.
Davis, Pickles ... how far left has the UK turned to label these guys extremists ?
Amazing & how utterly depressing if true.
Is there anyone in the Tories with a braincell? Brown has destroyed Britain and I don't see many solutions in the Tory Party apart from the fact 'they are not Brown'. It may work after all Obama was 'anybody but Hillary'.
yak40 - why do you think the Tories haven't won a general election in over a decade? Think about it.
New politics are needed for the 21st century - no going back to the 80s. Gotta look forward not backwards...
Is part of the deal by which Clarke was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet that Grayling would be moved, thus burying the welfare reform agenda? (or putting "fixing the broken society" on the backburner, as James Forsyth has suggested)
Just listening to Ken Clarke on R5(Labour)Live!
I forgot how good he is at ripping a hole in just about anybody stupid enough to challenge him!
Strike 1) Didn't support VAT cut, go read Hansard, and the original Times interview!
Strike 2) Didn't vote for VAT Cut, try Hansard again!
Strike 3) Government shows contempt for parliament by not having a minister in the Commons!
Strike 4) Nobody with a brain thinks that the Euro is an option. The exchange rate was wrong at the start, and it's wrong now. It is not on the agenda either economically or politically. Only good for late night debate between friends over a drink.
Take that! I'm off for a cigar & pint of real ale!
He's done a good job on this reshuffle, although I would agree with Letters from a Tory on Theresa Villiers.
"thus burying the welfare reform agenda? (or putting "fixing the broken society" on the backburner,"
err... no again.
Everything is on the backburner right now. Lets get real, in 12 months what is left of the economy will not be able to support a rickety set of steps for Chris Hoy to climb to light the Olympic Flame.
In 12 months - or whenever the Tories get back in - welfare , benefits - call it what you will - will be clearly seen as being ripe for cutting. Along with the civil service (whose snouts were so deep in the trough they never saw this coming) and local government, who mostly do nothing anyway (and I'm not talking about teachers and nurses here).
Socialists think this is an excuse to communise us all. Tories should UNITE and see that this is an opportunity to 'set the people free'.
word verification 'trappers', oh hum.
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