ConservativeHome wrote recently about the appointment of Neil O’Brien as a new Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Chair of the Conservative Party’s Policy Board – a promotion with wider implications.
We weren’t alone in doing so. The news about our columnist got a lot of publicity, including an interview with him in the Times.
But what has not been evident so far is that there was already a Vice-Chairman of the Party responsible for policy. Step forward, Alan Mak.
That most missed his own earlier appointment isn’t surprising, since these Vice-Chairmen have a way of rapidly coming and going.
At any rate, Mak is still there – and this site is told that he will co-chair the Board with O’Brien. The third MP who will sit on it is John Penrose, who chairs the Conservative Policy Forum.
Another member will arguably carry more weight than any of them: Munira Mirza, the head of the Downing Street Policy Unit.
Her presence on it, and that of Joel Winton, her deputy, is a sign that the Board should be taken seriously. Iain Carter, who heads up the Conservative Research Department, will also be a member.
And there are to be Parliamentary Party representatives – which raises the question of who these are to be. ConHome is told that the intention is that they be selected. (By whom, exactly?)
We suspect that Graham Brady and the 1922 Committee Executive will have something to say about that. The ’22 had its own elected policy committees during the run-up to the last election.
Unlike O’Brien, Mak has neither run a think-tank nor served as a SpAd – let alone as a senior one in George Osborne’s Treasury.
Nonetheless, he is no policy slouch: see his pieces on the Fourth Industrial Revolution for this site. And he was agitating about about ending child hunger almost 18 months ago – well before the Marcus Rashford push.
The twin-hatting arrangement seems awkard to us, and we doubt it will last long. “Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere, / Nor can one England brook a double reign, / Of Harry Percy and the Prince of Wales.”
One or other of these gentlemen will presumably be wafted heavenwards in a blaze of glory during the New Year reshuffle that must surely come…
…Unless Boris Johnson has second or third or seventy-seventh thoughts, and puts the whole thing off until after the spring’s local elections.