By Tim Montgomerie
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David Cameron has conducted a mini reshuffle this morning. He has appointed John Hayes MP to the Cabinet Office and Michael Fallon will be taking over John's Energy brief. Both men have been two of the Coalition's success stories.
Taking John Hayes first. In his previous ministerial incarnation Hayes oversaw the Coalition's skills and apprenticeships policy. He was a master of the subject – having shadowed the portfolio for most of the last parliament. In government he worked closely with George Osborne to ensure that, in this era of austerity, this long-term investment in our nation's future got extra funding rather than less. Hayes has had a rocky relationship with Ed Davey at DECC, with the two men disagreeing rather publicly over windfarms policy. Nonetheless, I understand that one of John Hayes' last acts was to sign off a settlement of the government's onshore wind policy. It's not exactly clear what John Hayes' new role will be but the MP for South Holland and the Deepings and co-founder of the Cornerstone Group understands the Right of the Tory Party (including the 2010 intake) and Number 10 doesn't. Hayes will be acting as a political and parliamentary adviser to the PM and will, I hope, be doing a lot more media. His non-southern, non-posh voice is one the Conservatives lack. He is a curious mix of Right-wing and One Nation. He signs up to nearly all traditional Tory positions on immigration, Europe, crime and the family (especially the family) but he's not much of a liberal when it comes to economic matters. Although a businessman before entering politics he's never been much of a fan of free trade. He sees a large role for the state in providing a social safety-net and underpinning UK manufacturing. Cameron's decision to bring Hayes into his inner team – a team that doesn't understand working class Conservatives – is a very good one. Hayes recently claimed to be the personification of blue collar conservatism.
My understanding is that John Hayes will be more Andrew Mackay than Michael Fallon. Mackay was something of a parallel chief whip for Cameron when he was based in the Leader of the Opposition's office in the last parliament. He helped connect Cameron with MPs (not always successfully). Fallon, in contrast, was primarily Minister for the Today programme.
Fallon will now have two responsibilities. He will remain at BIS, developing the Coalition's policies for business but he'll also co-ordinate the Coalition's energy policies. This super brief is a sign that Number 10 regards Fallon as one of the Government's most effective ministers. One Number 11 source tells me that he gets things done. "Fallon is to Cameron what Lord Young was to Thatcher – other ministers bring problems, Fallon brings solutions". If it wasn't for Coalition he'd be in the Cabinet and a powerful pro-enterprise member of it. Some suggested that his appointment last year to work alongside Vince Cable at BIS was an act of war from Number 10 towards the Business Secretary. In reality the relationship has been a solid one. Fallon will now work with another Lib Dem Cabinet minister – Ed Davey – to ensure that the Government accelerates the policies towards the nuclear, renewables and gas industries that will achieve a rebalancing of the UK economy and an energy prices regime that supports manufacturing.