We’re spending this week thinking about the talent that David Cameron has at his disposal. On New Year’s Day we looked at the Tory leader’s number one ally, George Osborne and the challenges facing him in 2008. Yesterday we profiled the nine people, including the Shadow Chancellor, who, we guess, are featuring most prominently in Cameron’s plans. Today we turn to the individuals you – and we – would most like to see join the Conservative Party’s top table.
[In the December ConservativeHome Members’ Panel survey we asked who you would like to see in the shadow cabinet (you could choose any number of MPs from a given list) and who you would most like to see in the shadow cabinet.]
Top of the league table that resulted is Shadow Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. 18% of the people who took part in the poll chose Mr Grieve as the person that they’d like to see promoted. 43.6% agreed that they he was one of the MPs they’d like promoted. Insiders were very surprised that he was passed over by David Cameron at the last reshuffle. Well-liked by his colleagues he may have been damaged by his support for more grammar schools in Buckinghamshire and by his reported opposition to draft plans to terminate the authority of the European Court of Human Rights.
Patrick Mercer is the choice of 11.7% of Panel members as the MP most deserving of a shadow cabinet place. 25.4% included the former homeland security spokesman on their list of desirable members of the top team. Most members thought Mercer was hard done by when he was forced to resign over remarks that were seen as racially insensitive but he won little sympathy from members for choosing to advise Gordon Brown at a time of maximum difficulty for David Cameron. His rehabilitation is now underway, however, through an advisory role he is fulfilling on service families’ welfare.
10.9% of you picked Ed Vaizey as your man (31.4% put him on their list). He is having a third go at regular blogging btw. On New Year’s Day he made his third commitment to blog regularly. He didn’t quite manage yesterday! He’s not as bad as the FT Westminster bloggers, however. The readers of that blog are stuck on 4th December.
Fourth in the league is Damian Green. Like Dominic Grieve he was seriously considered for the Justice slot that Nick Herbert eventually received but remains in charge of the hugely important immigration brief. 10.5% of Panel members had the Kent MP as their top choice. 31.6% had him on their list.
Fifth is Mr Sleepover, Grant Shapps. Although the Shadow Housing Minister attends shadow cabinet he is not yet a full member. Expect that to change soon. His Panel scores were 8.2% and 22.8%.
Now, our turn. These are the top choices of th Editors:
Tim: "As the Conservatives look to convince the British people that we are ready for government again we need more people of real intellectual weight around the shadow cabinet table. We need practical people who will be able to run major departments of state and thinkers who are willing to challenge conventional wisdom. Step forward Dr Greg Clark. Currently a shadow minister in the Cabinet Office, Greg Clark became the MP for Tunbridge Wells at the last General Election. He saw government from the inside during the Major years. He was Controller of Commercial Policy at the BBC before becoming Head of Policy for Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. Today he is one of the party’s truest compassionate conservatives. Both in policy and personal integrity. He worked on welfare policy for the social justice policy group and is the co-author of a recent forward-thinking paper on progressive politics. When men like Greg are sat around the Conservative Party’s top table we will communicate our seriousness as a Government-in-waiting."
Samuel: "For many of the reasons given by Tim above, and because the Party doesn’t seem to be too interested in foreign policy, I’d like to see David Lidington given Shadow Cabinet status. He has a good knowledge of Education and Home Affairs (and a good general knowledge having captained two champion University Challenge teams), but his real expertise is on foreign affairs. After having the Northern Ireland brief which he handled very well he was moved up to be Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in the summer – Hague’s number two. David certainly keeps his ear to the ground about what goes on not just in international politics but in the Westminster village, where he is widely considered to be one of the most genuinely nice MPs. I was particularly impressed with his character a couple of months ago when without really being asked to he twice came over to the tents in Parliament Square (see above pic of him putting the world to rights with Mark Wallace) in which I was staying the night, to help wave placards about Burma and to chat to the Burmese protesters for an hour and a half."
Tomorrow we publish the December satisfaction ratings for the shadow cabinet. One member’s rating has moved quite significantly…