Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tory Reshuffle: Make or Break for the Next Leader

Michael Howard has made a rather daring Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, bringing together all the talents and all the qualities that the Conservatives have on their benches. We have some youthful shadow ministers full of vitality, of which George Osborne and David Cameron are undoubtedly two. We have experience too, best personified by giants like Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

It is a Shadow Cabinet which brings together all wings of the party - yet, as I have written recently, that is hardly difficult in a party so fundamentally united over its guiding philosophy as the Conservatives are. There is Alan Duncan and Andrew Lansley on the left, and David Davis and John Redwood on the right (whatever 'right' and 'left' mean in the Conservative Party).

Most importantly of all, this is a Shadow Cabinet from which the next leader of the party will almost certainly emerge. Whether you prefer a social and economic liberal like Alan Duncan or a hard-line right-winger like David Davis - in a leadership race which hasn't actually kicked off yet - these are the names which will be looked at first.

Their performance over the coming months with their respective portfolios may well make or break potential leaders. David Davis has identity card proposals to oppose as Shadow Home Secretary, yet what a treacherous position he would be put in if the rest of the leadership decided - after much dithering - to back identity cards after all. What if Sir Malcolm Rifkind flops in the House of Commons against David Blunkett as the government promises an overhaul of the Welfare State? What if Liam Fox tries to fight against a Foreign Secretary who suddenly stops being a puppet and starts standing up to both the Americans and the Europeans, and begins to pursue the feisty and independent foreign policy a nation like Britain should be used to carrying out? What if George Osborne stands up against a Chancellor of the Ex-Chequer who becomes stunned by the virtues of lower taxation and lower spending?

I realised I'm drifting from the sublime to the ridiculous by now, but the next few months will make or break those leadership campaigns which have been silently spiralling to fruition in the last few days. I think I have decided whom I personally would support in such a campaign, yet we will have to see how time progresses.

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