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Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publications, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

Overall, I think it has been quite a good and competent reshuffle. There were one or two glaring exceptions, though, and none more so than the removal of Grant Shapps from the party chairmanship and his move to the Department for International Development as Minister of State. It’s a bit like Arsene Wenger moving to manage Colchester United. Sort of. There was no one person responsible for the election result but Grant Shapps was part of a triumvirate which can lay claim to adopting the strategy which led to victory. CCHQ ran much more smoothly, Team 2015 was a vital part of the ground war and the target seat operation performed well.

In 1983 the then party Chairman Cecil Parkinson was promoted to the DTI. He was going to be offered the Foreign Office, but we all know what happened to scupper that. In 1992 Chris Patten would not doubt have been given one of the big offices of state had he not lost his seat. The very least Shapps could have expected was to get the DCLG, a department he had been a Minister of State in before. So why has he been effectively demoted?

The only reason can be that he has become embroiled in one too many embarrassing media stories. That’s as maybe but they are all trivial and hardly his fault. The Wikipedia story, for example, had absolutely nothing to do with him and was cooked up by a LibDem activist. He may have misspoken about not having done other work when he first became an MP, but it’s hardly the crime of the century. Shapps has acted as a very effective lightning rod for Cameron and Osborne on more than one occasion, and if he feels as if that has been a one way street you could well understand it. It may be that a year out of the frontline will be of benefit to Grant, and if I know him he will throw himself into his new job with his typical Tiggerish enthusiasm. But he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t feel a bit let down. And he’d be right.

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Before the election Paul O’Grady (aka Lilly Savage) threatened to leave the country if the Conservatives won the election. Matthew Parris wrote a piece in The Times on Wednesday saying he really didn’t need to fulfil his pledge and that we all love him. Er, no we don’t. Some of us think he’s a boring prick and are bewildered at how on earth he ever became famous. Shut the door on your way out, Paul.

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All change at the Treasury, where George Osborne’s guru Rupert Harrison is to leave, along with press officer Ramesh Chhabra. Mesh worked with David Davis for a long time and is a big loss to Tory circles. Harrison too, will be much missed by Osborne. He’s been dubbed ‘Osborne’s brain’, which may be overcooking the pudding somewhat, but there’s little doubt that these two leave a big void in the Treasury operation. The big question is, will Thea Rodgers stay? It is she more than anyone who has reshaped the Chancellor’s image and he will move heaven and earth to ensure she stays on. At least, he’d be mad if he didn’t.

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The reshuffle appointment which pleased me more than any other was the appointment of Tracey Crouch as Minister for Sport. A round peg in a round hole. It is rare that expertise plays any part in government appointments but it clearly did here. Tracey is a qualified football coach, and although her support for Spurs ought to preclude her from any role in sport (my little joke), if any of the new ministers are going to be a success I’d put money on it being her. All she has to do now is to curb her DiCanio-eque rebellious nature, and toe the party line. All I hope is that she doesn’t lose her sense of fun.

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The House of Lords is going to be interesting to watch over the coming years. The government is not going to find it easy to get its legislation through the second chamber, mainly due to the fact that it is vastly outnumbered. With 224 peers to Labour’s 214 and the LibDems 108, it is easy to predict that there will be many lost votes. Much will depend on the 149 Crossbench peers. The crunch will come over the abolition of the Human Rights Act and an EU Referendum Paving Bill. Both policies were in the Tory manifesto so they’d be quite justified in using the Parliament Act. Cameron would also be justified in creating a lot more Tory peers. However, with around 800 peers already in the House of Lords, one can imagine the outcry if he did. It’s always best to do the controversial things early on in a government and get them out of the way quickly.

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A picture of a delivery man outside Number 11 delivering gazzilions of cases of Moet Champagne did the social media rounds on Sunday. The left’s desperation to trash the Tories knows no bounds. Shame for them that it emerged the picture was taken in 2004, when Gordon Brown was Chancellor. Apology came there none, mainly because the deception was deliberate.

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Some of the reshuffle appointments defied credulity. Why put Rory Stewart at Defra, when his expertise lies in foreign policy or defence? Why put John Hayes in the Home Office in charge of security, where he will have to pilot through the Terrorism Bill. Hayes may have many qualities but building consensus is not one of them. Why put yet another MP who voted against equal marriage in charge of equalities? Again, I love Caroline Dinenage dearly, but did no one think of the consequences?

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This was without doubt a FOG reshuffle. FOG stands for Friends of George. Amber Rudd, Greg Hands, Rob Halfon and many other FOGs all got preferment. But there’s one FOG who might consider himself downright unlucky. Matthew Hancock was expecting to get a front rank government department or at the very least become Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In the end he became Paymaster General and Minister of State at the cabinet office. Not quite what he was hoping for or expecting. Hancock is an enigma. One to one, face to face, he is a delight – funny, witty and entertaining and with a real sense of mischief. Put him in front of a TV camera, however, and he becomes something else. He’s also not very popular with Tory MPs. One wag said to me that he himself wasn’t averse to the odd but of Osborne arselicking, but the moment he started he found Hancock already so far up Osborne’s arse he had to be pulled out by his legs. This is a big moment for Matt Hancock. He can sulk or get on with the job and prove his critics wrong. For what it’s worth, I’ve always liked him. People say he’s arrogant. I’ve always found the exact opposite – someone who is actually well aware he isn’t the finished article and someone willing to learn from others. I’ve never understood why that doesn’t come across to his critics in the way it does to me.

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Looking through the election results of all the former Cabinet Ministers, I note that Nicky Morgan had the biggest swing to her of any of them, at 5.25 per cent. Well that put me firmly in my place. In my first round of seat predictions I had her down to lose. I did then revise it, but there’s no doubt this was a sterling performance from Nicky.

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Now, my memory may be defective, but weren’t we told that Ben Harris-Quinney wasn’t a member of the Conservative Party? How strange then that he was elected last Thursday as a Conservative member of East Hertfordshire District Council:

Harris Quinney election

After his antics in advance of polling day, isn’t it time that formal disciplinary action against him is taken? I feel a letter to the party’s ethics committee coming on.

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As if you all needed cheering up, let me encourage you to read this article by Stephen Bush of the New Statesman. He shows how it’s almost impossible for Labour to win the 2020 election, and that to do so they would need a 9.45 per cent swing in England, something that even Tony Blair didn’t achieve in 1997. He says: “To win a majority of ten, Labour would have to win Harlow, Shipley, Chingford & Woodford Green, Filton & Bradley Stoke, Basingstoke, Bexleyheath & Crayford, Kensington, Rugby, Leicestershire North West, Forest of Dean and Gillingham & Rainham. Of those ten, four – Chingford, Kensington, Filton & Bradley Stoke and Basingstoke – have never been won by Labour at any point in its history. All are Conservative-held.”

Have a nice day!

28 comments for: Iain Dale: Sending Shapps to DfID is like sending Arsene Wenger to Colchester United

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