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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Reshuffle news

It seems an eternity since speculation about a Conservative front bench reshuffle was started. All of the chatter is over whether Cameron will bring back Kenneth Clarke or not.

The indications are that the Tory leader wants the former Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Shadow Cabinet but as the Sunday Times points out today resistance to the move is growing.

The problem for Tory right wingers is Clarke's views on Europe. They believe that they have won the civil war within the party on this issue, which made the Conservatives unleadable during much of the 1990s. Kenneth Clarke in the Shadow Cabinet could re-open those wounds.

Clarke may well add gravitas to the Tory front bench but his return could also herald another bout of infighting that may undermine Cameron's leadership. Bring it on I say.
Cameron's fudged it, and created more grief for himself, by appointing Clarke not to the shadow chancellorship, which is where he should be, but to "Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform". He will have upset the little-England constituency in his party to little real benefit, but also set up a potential clash with the ineffective Osborne.

One recalls the conflict between the Treasury and the Department of Economic Affairs in the early days of Harold Wilson's government.
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