Peter Hoskin

Alan Duncan demoted from shadow cabinet

Alan Duncan demoted from shadow cabinet
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So was the "rations" video a gaffe too far?  The news has just come in that Alan Duncan has been demoted from the shadow cabinet, going from shadow leader of the Commons to shadow prisons minister.  Having spoken to various Tory sources, I understand that the decision was made in an "amicable" meeting between Duncan and Cameron – where the former acknowledged he has become a "lightning conductor" for public anger over expenses – and that, apparently, Duncan is "relaxed and relieved" to be working under Dominic Grieve.

Some people might be surprised at the timing: many expected Cameron to hold off until next year, so as not to rile any backbenchers who broadly agreed with Duncan on expenses.  But it's worth noting that, if he had remained in the shadow leader role, Duncan would have had to give a speech on expenses at the Tory party conference.  Now, the Tories are spared that potentially embarrassing focal point.