James Forsyth

Planning for a reshuffle?

Planning for a reshuffle?
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David Cameron is determined to get away from the idea of an annual Cabinet cull. He has repeatedly told friends that he doesn’t want to reshuffle the Cabinet until March 2012. But The Times, the most pro-coalition paper, today uses its leader column (£) to call on Cameron to reshuffle straight after the May elections.

I suspect that Cameron will only reshuffle the Cabinet, as opposed to the junior ranks, if AV passes. But there are a few Tory junior ministers who would impress as Cabinet ministers.

Greg Clark and Nick Herbert, two members of the pre-election shadow Cabinet who missed out on the Cabinet because of coalition, have both performed well as junior ministers. Clark, Eric Pickles’ minister of state, has a formidable intellect and an impressive command of detail. Herbert is currently double-hatting at Home and Justice and pushing through elected police and crime commissioners. He’d be an ideal right-wing replacement for Ken Clarke when Cameron’s patience with the Justice Secretary finally expires.  

At the Department of Work and Pensions, Chris Grayling has been steadily rehabilitating himself after a disastrous stint as shadow Home Secretary. He is pushing through welfare changes efficiently, acting almost as the department’s chief operating officer. Downing Street has been admiring of how he has so comprehensively prepared the ground for these reforms. He is now once more a contender for the Cabinet.