James Forsyth James Forsyth

In search of a broader shadow Cabinet

Steve Richards offers a rather back-handed compliment to the Tories in his column today, which Pete flagged up earlier. Steve writes:

“The Shadow Cabinet is not bad (in terms of political talent it is the equal to Labour’s in 1997)”

I think this is right. The party’s decision to use Cameron for pretty much every significant announcement has obscured the fact that there are seven or so, admittedly not a huge number, members of the shadow Cabinet who would impress in most Cabinets. The problem for the leadership is that most of the members of the shadow Cabinet who are impressive are all quite similar in style and appeal.

When Cameron has tried to broaden the range of the party’s principal spokesmen he has run into trouble. First, he appointed Caroline Spelman as party chairman in 2007 which turned out fairly disastrously; even before Nannygate broke she was hardly ripping up trees. Cameron then moved Pickles into that role only for Pickles to flame out spectacularly on Question Time. Those in the 2010 intake who are ready for primetime, and would broaden the reach of the party, can expect rapid promotion.

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