Word is that MacKay was offered the chief whip job, "but it'd be too much work, he likes his holidays in France too much" I was told. His permatanned face does support this theory. Like many people Cameron values, he had a curious lack of hunger for promotion, and was all too happy to wave goodbye to it this morning.
Given the nature of MacKay's role - basically sending intelligence reports on his fellow backbenchers - it can be done just as well down the phone. So, in theory, his de facto advisory role could stay the same via a few sly mobile phone conversations. "But Cameron is very politically astute" a shadow minister tells me. "He wouldn't want to be seen as playing it that way". So I suspect MacKay will now be spending less time in Norman Shaw South and more in the south of France. And I also suspect that won't bother him too much.