4.30pm Robert H Halfon on CentreRight: Mandy’s mate is right: Labour’s ‘do nothing’ jibe at the Tories is backfiring
Simon Chapman on CentreRight: "The reasoning behind the Party’s decision to park Health reform is that the Broken Society is the first-term priority and there’s a limit to the number of fronts it can fight on at any given time. And with Michael Gove at Children Schools & Families, Chris Grayling at the DWP, and Nick Herbert at Justice, it was clear and reassuring to see that reformers had been placed in the key portfolios. That’s now been unpicked, and Michael Gove alone is left in post."
Today’s must-read: The Conservatives have put ideological purity behind them
"For more than a decade some in the Tory Party have considered ideological purity – particularly over Europe – more important than winning power. They chose their leaders on the basis of their Euroscepticism rather than their electability, they fought campaigns to save the pound when the voters were interested in saving their schools. With the appointment of Mr Clarke, Mr Cameron has shown a ruthless commitment to electoral success rather than political ideology." – Rachel Sylvester in The Times
David Cameron claimed to have assembled his "strongest possible Shadow Cabinet", ready for a General Election – Telegraph
The Cameron-Osborne double act has been replaced by a bigger, broader team
"Until yesterday, they ran the Conservative Party as a shared project, so much so that some complained the pair left no room for others to shine. Now it is a team effort, with a number of impressive bruisers arrayed alongside Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne like a gang of burly minders guarding two London dandies. Last week William Hague was anointed as deputy leader ‘in all but name’ and he has now been joined by the hefty pair of Mr Clarke and Eric Pickles." – Ben Brogan in the Daily Mail
Cameron addresses charge of elitism
"David Cameron answered the charge of elitism yesterday by handing key jobs to populist figures as he gave his Shadow Cabinet a more common touch and harder edge." – Francis Elliott in The Times
"Mr Cameron also promoted Mark Francois, the strongly Eurosceptic spokesman on Europe, to the Shadow Cabinet in an attempt to reassure activists that there would be no change of direction on the issue. Tory sources said the elevation of Mr Francois, who was educated at an Essex comprehensive school and Bristol University, was further evidence of Mr Cameron’s determination to appoint shadow ministers from a broader social background." – The Independent
Can Clarke be controlled?
"Jolly Ken Clarke is back in frontline politics. If he can keep his mind on the job and his mouth shut on Europe, he will be a formidable match for Business supremo Peter Mandelson. But we won’t hold our breath. Lord Mandelson knows he has only to mention the euro or the loathed EU Constitution and all Ken’s New Year’s resolutions will go up in cigar smoke." – The Sun Says
What about John Redwood and Michael Fallon?
"Mr Cameron could have done more to beef up his economic team. He has two highly talented backbenchers – John Redwood and Michael Fallon – who both understand the financial crisis and can deliver a credible, and comprehensible, critique of the Government’s failings. Such individuals are a rare commodity these days and their talents need to be better used." – Telegraph leader
And what about David Davis?
"Some on the right might be disappointed that Mr Clarke’s return has not been balanced by a recall of David Davis to the front-bench. Mr Davis neither sought nor was offered such an opportunity. Whether he would have accepted any post is doubtful. But this is a moment for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. That Ken Clarke has recognised this is a tribute to Mr Cameron’s determination and readiness for government." – Michael Brown (friend of David Davis) in The Independent
Croydon ‘IRA councillor’ Maria Gatland speaks about Tory return – Croydon Guardian
Vince Cable: The first bailout failed
"It is clear that the conditions set by the Government over the original capitalisation was a sham. No effective monitoring and controls were put in place to ensure that the money went where it was intended. The banks do not even seem to have been required to give a full, transparent declaration of their bad loans." – Vince Cable in The Times
MPs are to debate how to get more women, disabled people and ethnic minorities into Commons – BBC
"It cannot be right that the House of Lords is now more ethnically diverse than the House of Commons, the head of Britain’s equalities watchdog warned yesterday." – Guardian
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