It has mostly been Lib Dems who have gleamed. Much can be said of Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, and Chris Huhne, but nobody will ever question the party’s ability to govern, or dismiss its front-line politicians as back-bench critics. In fact, if the Coalition lasts until 2015, the Lib Dems will have more Cabinet-level experience than the majority of the Shadow Cabinet, most of whom entered Cabinet under Gordon Brown in 2007. That will be quite a turnaround.
The bigger problem will be for those Tories who had to take junior ministerial jobs and who have found themselves squeezed out both media-wise and politically by their Secretaries of States.
Unlike Tory backbenchers, they cannot generate publicity but are rarely allowed to “own” departmental issues themselves. As Chris Mullin wrote in his diaries, they have to toil in the foothills hoping for eventual elevation to a greater job. Often waiting and working in vain. When did we last hear from otherwise impressive Tories like Chris Grayling, Greg Barker or Theresa Villiers?
But which Conservative junior ministers have managed to escape this trap, maintaining high profile “ownership” of a key issue? Here is my list:
This is quite a short list. But the truth is, not that many Tories have managed to “punch through”. Who would be on your list and why?