It wouldn’t have happened a few years ago.  The airwaves would have been full of unhappy Tories complaining at the return of Ken Clarke.  I certainly had my media opportunities yesterday but, although I opposed Mr Ken Clarke’s return, David Cameron deserves loyalty now a decision has been made.  I certainly hope Ken succeeds in helping the party achieve a still stronger economic message.  The only voice raised against Ken Clarke’s return has been that of former Tory MP Barry Legg.  He has written for The Guardian’s Comment is free this morning and, to be fair, issues some pertinent cautions.

Why aren’t the airwaves full?  Why have the 41% of Conservatives opposed to Clarke’s return shrunk to 22% overnight?  Why are those 22% so quiet?  Rachel Sylvester suggests in The Times that the Conservative Party has finally put ideological purity behind it and is now focused on winning power.  It’s also true that David Cameron was careful to reassure rank-and-file Tories with the elevation of Eurosceptic Mark Francois.  Affirming William Hague’s Deputy status and big promotions for grassroots favourites Eric Pickles and Chris Grayling were other signs that the confrontational side to David Cameron’s leadership – shown during the grammar schools row – is over.  These very grim times also focus minds.  Two recent opinion polls, from YouGov and Ipsos MORI, suggest that the second Brown bounce is well and truly over.  Tory prospects for an extended period in government haven’t been so good for a generation.  They are as good as the inheritance will be awful.

Tim Montgomerie

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