Peter Hoskin

A goatherd by necessity

A goatherd by necessity
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In his recent interview with Fraser, David Cameron said that he's keen on bringing in outside talent to the government – the so-called "Goat" strategy, which has been a feature of Brown's premiership.  In her ever-excellent column, Rachel Sylvester makes the point that this may be as much from necessity as by design:

"According to Anthony Wells, of UKPollingReport, at least a third of the House of Commons are likely to be novices after the next general election — the highest proportion since 1945. A perceived house of whores, whose members would sell their souls for a bathplug, will soon be replaced by a virgin Parliament, untouched by the John Lewis list.

The implications are huge. If David Cameron moves into No 10 he could find himself having to appoint as ministers people who have only just become MPs. No wonder he is so keen to parachute between 35 and 45 senior figures into the House of Lords — he will need some people with outside experience to sit on the front bench. It is all very well having novices in a nunnery but it is more dangerous to have too many trotting down the corridors of power."

We've already seen the first additions to Cameron's own herd of Goats – think David Freud and Richard Dannatt – and I'm sure that we'll see more over the next few months.  Most Tories I speak to recognise that this has both merits and drawbacks attached to it.  The obvious plus is that it chimes with the whole "ready for government" theme; while the main concern is that it could provoke voters who are already worried about the democratic deficit between them and Westminster.  You suspect that the latter point will be raised with greater frequency – by both the opposition and, privately, those Tories who want to rise up the ranks – should Cameron & Co. get into power.