Is it wise for Dave to abandon the centre ground?
However you view the changes in Dave’s cabinet line-up it’s hard not to conclude that this marks a shift to the right – nowhere more than with the appointment of non-lawyer, Chris Grayling, as the Justice Secretary – taking over from Ken Clarke who, according to the polling, was one of the most popular Tories in the cabinet.
This is the judgement of the Spectator’s James Forsyth
In policy terms, there appears to be a well-calibrated move to the right. Chris Grayling will argue for rehabilitation from a distinctly Conservative point of view. The departure of Greening and Villiers from Transport paves the way for the Tory side of the coalition at least to commit to doing what it takes to increase aviation capacity in the South East.
Owen Paterson returning to mainland politics will also be welcomed by Tory MPs. It’ll be interesting to see what flexibility he is given on the EU aspects of his department, one former DEFRA minister told me recently that 80% of its work relates to Brussels…
The question is how this will play electorally and will it make a Tory majority a nearer or more remote.
I think the latter simply because the bulk of spare votes likely to be up for grabs are in the centre ground – just the sort whom Ken Clarke has been able to appeal.
The initial Cameron strategy to push the party in this direction was correct. Now with the re-shuffle a very different signal is being sent out.
If Zac Goldsmith carries out his threat to quit his seat over the Heathrow third runway – signaled with the side-lining of transport secretary Justine Greening – then we might find out sooner rather than later. A CON-LD spat in the leafy London borough of Richmond makes for a very interesting by-election
Mike Smithson @MSmithsonPB