A number of MPs have long complained that David Cameron’s inner circle of advisers is too small. Frontbenchers have told ConservativeHome that the leader’s office doesn’t involve them in key decisions. David Cameron certainly doesn’t have the structured policy groups or mini-shadow cabinets that IDS and William Hague used to involve leading shadow ministers in the decision-making process. These things do not matter too much when things are going well but they come to matter when the going gets rougher.
Within the last fortnight two episodes have highlighted the dangers of the Tory leader failing to consult beyond his immediate circle. Firstly, there was the muddle over the environmentally disastrous Common Fisheries Policy. Westminster’s Conservative leadership decided to abandon the ‘let’s leave the CPF’ policy without consulting Edinburgh’s Conservatives. Scottish Tories were furious at the lack of communication from London. Scotland accounts for 50% to 75% of the UK fishing industry and the SNP are rushing to suggest that the Conservatives cannot be trusted with Scotland’s interests. Edinburgh Tories are responding by asserting the previous/ existing policy whilst London remains silent. Ted Brocklebank MSP, fisheries spokesman for the Scottish party, uses a letter to today’s (Glasgow) Herald to describe the Scottish Tories’ intention to "restore local and national control of fisheries and reserve the right to withdraw from the CFP if negotiations fail".
Back in London a number of shadow cabinet members have protested about Tuesday’s family policy speech. The speech covered the portfolios of a large number of shadow cabinet ministers who were not asked for comments until the speech had been partly briefed out to the press. Those shadow cabinet members have complained to David Cameron and now to ConservativeHome.
Every leadership has its shortcomings – the best leadership teams learn
to address them. Now is a good time for Team Cameron to think a little
more carefully about how they involve the shadow cabinet, in
particular, in decision-making.