Saturday, December 10, 2005


Dave's Team

David Cameron's team to take on Blair's for the next few months at least has been fashioned. He has found space for his two major rivals- David Davis and Liam Fox- both much further to the right than Dave and his open-necked modernizers. He has also included four women- one of them, Theresa Villiers, elected only a few months ago in the May election- with an eye to the party's image as not female -friendly. He has a number of older hands most prominent amongst whom is William Hague. Hague is a substantial talent- the more so it seems since his uneven display as leader- and one wonders if being subordinate to the younger man will be wholly acceptable to someone who has cxquired so much authority recently.

John Gummer, a former minister dating back to Thatcher is not given a place in the Shadow Cabinet but heads the rethink on environment policy together with Ecologist editor, Zac Goldsmith and Peter Ainsworth who also shadows this portfolio. David Willets is the only 'Thatcher' minister given a job shadowing education, Cameron's former post. Willetts is another politician who had ambitions for the leadership at one time so ability and magnamimity coincide to good effect. Willetts has long been one of the few genuinely articulate and thoughtful Conservatives in the House. Clarke has been kept inside the tent via another long term inquiry meaning that even if Cameron does win in 2009 the jazz loving cigar smoker can forget becoming a minister ever again. Despite his long career and record in office history is likely to place him in the 'underachieved' file.

Not all of the former ministers have heeded the call. Malcom Rifkind clearly felt he had some rights of tenacy on the Foreign Office as he refused to consider anything else and walked off in what appeared to be a huff. As for the others-Letwin, Maude, Lansley, Duncan- they are familiar faces from the Howard and IDS years though I was interested to note Chris Grayling's presence: his reward for robust work in oppostion. But the 'celeb' news is that fellow Etonian, Boris Johnson has given up editing the Spectator- no more hot totties for him during his lunch hour-and has accepted the shadow higher education brief. Maybe now we'll see 'Clever Boris'-you only have to read his articles to recognise his intelligence- as opposed to 'Buffoon Boris' whom we've tended to see to date and which has made the carefully ruffled lothario a TV star.

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