Tory Reshuffle : Howard Plays His Joker

George Osborne, the 33-year-old heir to a wallpaper fortune, is to face off against Gordon Brown – a chance for him to shine or fall flat on his face. Doc Fox becomes shadow foreign secretary and David Cameron gets education. Rifkind is up against Blunkett as work and pensions spokesman.

Michael Ancram goes to defence, ‘Two-Brains’ Willetts, gets to shadow the new government department of productivity, energy and industry (the most unlikely name for a department of the civil service). Alan Duncan goes to transport.

Francis Maude becomes party chairman – a position that will be handy for the modernisers, given that Francis is the moderniser par excellence. It will be interesting to see if C-Change (the provisional wing of Nicholas Boles’ Policy Exchange think tank) lines up differently to CWF in the leadership battle for the hearts and minds of the grassroots. Maude was involved with the establishment of Policy Exchange which has a Portillista agenda, and was not a million miles away from the wielders of the knives that were stuck in IDS’ back. CWF has a more Thatcherite / libertarian agenda. If ‘policy not personality’ is important, these pressure groups will be important. Guido suspects it will superficially be about policy and message, but really about personality and style.

Howard has adroitly given a number of front-runners a chance to shine. Big money went on the absent Hague today at the bookies – does somebody know something? David Davis is favourite, followed in order by Hague(?), David Cameron, Fox, Rifkind, Lansley, Osborne, Yeo, Letwin (rumoured in the City to be off back to Rothschilds). Teasy May, Ken Clarke, Duncan, Willets, Redwood, Damian Green, Ancram and Boris Johnson make up the rear.




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Quote of the Day

Jeremy Corbyn in the Evening Standard

“… we must also face the uncomfortable fact that a small number of our members and supporters hold anti-Semitic views and attitudes, which need to be confronted and dealt with more rapidly and effectively.

The evidence is clear enough. Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.

So let me be clear. People holding those views have no place in the Labour Party.

… we have not done enough to get to grips with the problem, and the Jewish community and our Jewish members deserve an apology. My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused. … We must strive to understand why anti-Semitism has surfaced in our party…

… when criticism of or opposition to the Israeli government uses anti-Semitic ideas — attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis — then a line must be drawn.  Anti-Zionism is not in itself anti-Semitic and many Jews themselves are not Zionists. But there are also a very few who are drawn to the Palestinian question precisely because it affords an opportunity to express hostility to Jewish people in a “respectable” setting. Our movement must not be a home for such individuals.

Second, there are people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system. That is only a step from hoary myths about “Jewish bankers” and “sinister global forces”.

These views do no service to the struggle for a just society.”

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