Fraser Nelson

The significance of MacKay’s departure

The significance of MacKay's departure
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How significant is Andrew MacKay's departure? A few weeks ago, I did a column on his weird Rasputin-like influence over David Cameron. His role is to sniff the air, see which tribes of Tory MPs are gathering where. To advise, say, if David Davis is up to mischief on the backbenches. To be a shadow (or, some would argue, de facto) chief whip. And while not a shadow cabinet member, he was more influential than most of them. Often MPs would go into meetings with Cameron and be surprised to see MacKay in the room.

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.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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