This is often the time of year in which party leaders conduct reshuffles but not this year. Menzies Campbell appointed his own team only a few months ago and Tony Blair reshuffled his pack after his party’s May’s local election reverses. It also appears that David Cameron will keep his full frontbench team in place. Time has run out for any reshuffle. MPs are about to leave for the world’s beaches (and for some hard work in their constituencies, of course) and Mr Cameron is still in Afghanistan with British troops. There had been some speculation that Francis Maude might have been moved but it now appears that he will be given the time to complete his revamping of CCHQ and the implementation of the A-list (which, at this early stage, has seen women selected in 30.8% of seats). ConservativeHome hears that 85 names are expected to be added to the Priority List at some point next month.
CCHQ insiders tell ConservativeHome that Mr Cameron is strongly disposed against reshuffles. He believes that one of Labour’s main weaknesses is the gap between policy announcement and policy implementation. He believes that the ministerial merry-go-round is partly to blame for this as frontbenchers are never given time to either master their briefs or to master their ‘Sir Humphrey Applebys’. In an ideal world Mr Cameron hopes that Messrs Davis, Hague and Osborne will occupy the top three shadow cabinet posts throughout this parliament.
David Davis has, perhaps surprisingly, emerged as the strongest of the top three. Heavily defeated in the leadership election by David Cameron he has since energetically led Tory opposition to Labour’s Home Office woes. In the most recent ConservativeHome survey of Tory members’ opinion his net satisfaction rating was +78% (slightly up from +74% in January).
- William Hague’s rating has slid slightly over recent months. From +83% after his appointment his net satisfaction rating amongst members has fallen to +70%. This slide was recorded in anticipation of some sort of fudge on David Cameron’s EPP promise and before William Hague upset some hawkish Conservatives with his mild criticism of Israel.
- George Osborne’s rating has fallen furthest. His rating was +68% in January but fell to +42% in June. The muddled presentation of a relatively timid policy on tax has upset the party’s smaller government conservatives.
Although David Cameron will be on holiday for much of the next few weeks he will not be informally handing over the party leadership to William Hague or any of his other senior colleagues. CCHQ tells me that a senior shadow cabinet minister will always be close to a ‘media hub’ and the party will be keeping a particularly close eye on John Prescott’s stewardship of Britain plc!
ConservativeHome’s own plans for the summer will be announced tomorrow.