By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter
The 2010 intake is, by now, known for being one of the most active and resourceful for a number of generations. In choosing ten MPs who could be promoted from the 2010 intake, I have had to overlook a number of extremely good candidates who, in normal, non-Coalition times would undoubtedly be made Ministers, and would do an excellent job. Those MPs include Fiona Bruce, George Freeman, Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel and Charlotte Leslie. There are a number of other MPs who I have excluded from my list, because their past Parliamentary rebellions would probably rule them out of contention. These include Nadhim Zahawi, Jesse Norman, Andrea Leadsom, Rory Stewart, Richard Fuller, and Andrew Griffiths.
The fact that so many worthy candidates didn't make the cut precisely mirrors the headache facing David Cameron as he weighs up his re-shuffle options: he has too many candidates for too few posts. Paul Goodman said last October that as few as three male backbenchers may become Ministers. While circumstances may have changed since 2011, Cameron's upcoming re-shuffle will nevertheless be a supreme test of his party management skills. The MPs who I feel David Cameron should promote are…
Background: Truss was raised in a northern left-wing household, and attended state schools, followed by Oxford University. During her private sector career, she worked as the economics director for Cable & Wireless, and later became the Deputy Director of the Reform think-tank, where her special areas of interest included academic standards in schools, and Britain's competitiveness.
In Parliament: Truss has carried her campaigns from her days at Reform into Parliament, setting up the Free Enterprise Group, which advocates getting Britain back to its competitive best, with Truss often advocating better education standards (especially in maths) as part of the journey back to prosperity. In June, for example, Truss wrote for ConHome: "It’s time Britain got a "Maths shock" and recognised the subject’s impact on our future prosperity".
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: Education
Background: Javid was born in Rochdale, the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, and educated at state schools. After attending Exeter University, Javid forged a successful career in banking, becoming the youngest Vice President in Chase Manhattan's history at the age of 25.
In Parliament: Javid is one of the strongest economic voices of the 2010 intake. He is currently serving as George Osborne's Parliamentary Private Secretary, but shouldn't be regarded as a creature of the Treasury. Javid is on the economic right of the party (he is a supporter of the Free Enterprise Group, for example), and would certainly bring some fresh economic thinking to a Ministerial post, if rewarded with promotion. Amongst Javid's ideas for navigating the uncertain economic conditions Britain faces is the introduction of a British debt ceiling - so that no government can borrow as recklessly as the last.
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: The Treasury.
Background: Raab had a successful career as a lawyer before entering Parliament. He worked for the Foreign Office between 2000 and 2006, tackling war criminals in the Hague, and advising on Israel and the EU, amongst other briefs. Raab joined David Davis' office as Chief of Staff in 2006, when Davis was the Shadow Home Secretary, before moving to the office of the Shadow Justice Secretary, Dominic Grieve.
In Parliament: Raab is an extremely productive Parliamentarian, regularly writing for newspapers including the Telegraph, Financial Times and Sunday Times, and contributing reports for think-tanks (at the end of last month, we covered his new report for the Centre for Policy Studies to "promote the great British underdog"). His specialist areas include foreign policy, human rights and civil liberties, and he has been a notable contributor to the debate on these issues: on votes for prisoners, strike laws, he scrapped with Theresa May over the Equality Act, and co-authored "After the Coalition" with four other bright young Conservative MPs.
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: The FCO, Home Office or Justice Department
Background: Skidmore graduated with a double first-class honours degree from Oxford, has taught at Bristol University, and specialises in history – he has so far published two historical books, with another scheduled for later this year.
In Parliament: Skidmore is a very impressive Parliamentarian – he has been active in the Free Enterprise Group, co-authoring several reports, including Policy Bites: Seven Shots in the Arm of Britain last month. Perhaps Skidmore's best contribution during his Parliamentary career so far has been his skill in doggedly attacking Labour's NHS record. His interest in health is shown in his regular contributions for ConHome, which, since May alone, include articles on social care, doctors' strikes, health tourism, personal health budgets, and long-term elderly care.
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: Health
Background: Glen has a strong private sector and political background. In between stints in business world, Glen worked for William Hague during his leadership, as the Head of the Political Section at the Conservative Research Department, in which role he prepared Hague for PMQs, amongst other duties. For more detail on Glen, the "full spectrum conservative", Tim Montgomerie wrote about his qualities at greater length prior to his selection as a parliamentary candidate.
In Parliament: Glen is a decent and thoughtful member of the 2010 intake, and has taken a particular interest in the armed forces during his time in Parliament (and is a member of the Defence Select Committee). Another regular contributor to ConHome, in 2012 Glen has written about forces accommodation, NATO, and MOD reform. Recently he's been acting as unofficial PPS to Mark Harper.
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: Defence
Background: Soubry has a background in broadcasting and law, which is a rather useful combination for a would-be Minister. Soubry presented several news programmes, including North Tonight, and Central News East during the 1980s and 1990s, before being called to the bar in 1995.
In Parliament: Soubry is currently the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Health Minister Simon Burns, but is generally an independent-minded Parliamentarian, who has spoken out not just on Health issues (she was called upon to defend Andrew Lansley's reforms a number of times on television), but on legal issues, such as anonymity for those accused of crimes, Citizens Advice Bureaux, and legal aid. Perhaps her greatest asset is her broadcasting experience – she was, unusually for a new intake backbencher, selected to appear on Question Time relatively early after the last general election, and is a confident media performer. Profiled by Paul Goodman she's on the Left of the party and has ruffled feathers in the 1922 Committee for outspoken attacks on her more rebellious colleagues.
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: Justice
Background: Jo Johnson is the younger brother of Boris. He worked for Deutsche Bank, before moving into journalism with the Financial Times, where he was their Paris, and then South Asia correspondent. Johnson later became the FT's Lex columnist, a position with a number of illustrious predecessors including Nigel Lawson.
In Parliament: Johnson is currently the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Mark Prisk, the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise: an appropriate posting, as Johnson has the potential to be a strong voice in the future of Britain's trading relationships. Last year, Johnson co-authored a book, Reconnecting Britain and India: Ideas for an Enhanced Partnership, and has written for ConHome in the past about the need to re-balance our trade with the BRIC countries, and, given his experience as a South Asia correspondent, India in particular. It should also be noted that any Whip would love the prospect of Boris' brother being more fully entrenched in his alleged rival's administration.
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: Business
Background: James has a strong background in business, and in the health sector in particular. After selling her business, she became involved in the charitable and political sectors, and, became a Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for women's issues in 2005. James had only rejoined the Party in 2004, having resigned when Mrs Thatcher left office.
In Parliament: James, using her experience in the sector, has made some good points about savings in the health system, and supported Andrew Lansley during the passage of his health reforms through Parliament. James is a supporter or member of a number of backbench groups of Tory MPs, including the 2020 group and the 301 group, both of which could be said to tilt to the left of the Party. However, James could perhaps be seen best as a woman on the economic right of the Party, inspired by Mrs T, and passionate about private enterprise.
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: Business
Background: Gummer, the son of former Cabinet member John, was, like Chris Skidmore, an exceptional history scholar at university. As well as publishing a well received history of the Black Death, Gummer ran an engineering company before entering politics.
In Parliament: Gummer has spoken out on issues like penal reform (he is a member of the Justice Select Committee), and free speech, but perhaps his best contribution so far has been his idea to issue taxpayers with a detailed breakdown of how much of their money is spent by each government department. Gummer is liked by the leadership of the party, and this idea for greater tax transparency was adopted by George Osborne earlier this year.
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: Treasury or Business
Background: Dr Coffey had an interesting and varied career before entering politics. Initially, Coffey trained as a chemist, and joined Mars Drinks, but later trained as an accountant, becoming Mars' finance director, and later held the position of property finance director for the BBC.
In Parliament: Coffey is a creature of the right – she is a supporter of the Cornerstone Group, and has not backed the Government on relaxing Sunday trading laws, or moving the clocks forward, for example. Coffey is nevertheless generally loyal to the Government, and so has a balanced perspective. Coffey sits on the DCMS Select Committee, and could be seen interrogating Rupert Murdoch and others during the News International affair, but has also expressed a preference for working at DEFRA – owing to her constituency – to help "restore the countryside and the coast at the heart of Whitehall."
Ideal Ministerial portfolio: DEFRA