Writing for The Telegraph this morning Iain Dale says that "the hot money" is on Caroline Spelman to replace Francis Maude as Tory Chairman.  I have heard the same from two independent sources this week. 

Editor’s comment: "I sincerely hope that the speculation about Caroline Spelman becoming the new Chairman is wrong.  Caroline has many abilities but she would be the wrong choice for this job.  The five people I spoke to at CCHQ yesterday evening greeted the prospect with undisguised horror.  CCHQ needs someone who has the warmth to command loyalty and respect amongst staff at the Millbank HQ and to lift the grassroots when they are battle-weary.  David Cameron needs a Chairman who can go on to the television and speak with authority and a little humour.   He needs someone who has the tenacity to organise attacks on the Labour Party and, on appropriate occasions, to match Team Brown’s ruthlessness.  If the top three shadow cabinet members – Davis, Hague and Osborne – are to stay in place, Mr Cameron’s choice of Chairman will be his most important decision.  If Francis Maude is to move on, Chris Grayling would be a much wiser appointment.  It would also show that Mr Cameron understands the sort of things that will rebuild his relationship with grassroots Conservatives."

Also in The Telegraph there is speculation that Hugo Swire will be chopped for his role in the museums charging row and Oliver Letwin will go "because of accusations that the party has failed to come up with clear policies."  Such a verdict is premmature.  We will only know if the policy review has failed after the policy groups have reported.  Oliver deserves time to finish the review and then it will be time to take stock.  Sacking Hugo Swire would be a difficult decision for Mr Cameron.  Both Old Etonians, they are close friends but advisers may see his removal from shadow cabinet as proof that the Conservative leader has sufficient ruthlessness.

I am hearing that David Willetts may now survive the reshuffle.  The party leader is making a big speech on education next week and David Willetts has been at the heart of preparations for that speech.

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