Hague selects team to pursue `yesterday's agenda'

Click to follow
The Independent Online
William Hague was criticised for pursuing "yesterday's agenda" after his weekend decision to bring leading figures out of retirement into his team. Some party sources claimed that Mr Hague's decision to choose experience rather than youth - 11 of his 20-strong shadow team have been in the Cabinet and a further six have served as ministers - would need rethinking before the next general election.

One former minister said: "It has got to sound like tomorrow's agenda, not yesterday's. There are people there who will give him advice on the basis of experience, but I think he needs to carve out his own way."

However, the new leader's staff denied rumours that old-stagers such as Norman Fowler, shadow spokesman for the environment, transport and the regions, and the former party chairman Brian Mawhinney, now shadow Home Secretary, would probably stand aside before the next election. Francis Maude and John Maples, now back as shadow heritage and health secretaries, both served as ministers before losing their seats in the 1992 election.

However, MPs from all sides of the Conservative Party were determined to show unity last night despite reports that the protracted leadership contest had led to deep bitterness between rival camps. It emerged that half a dozen former Redwood supporters were sent white feathers anonymously in the post after switching to Mr Hague when their man formed an alliance with Kenneth Clarke, though Mr Redwood did not know of the incident.

Three MPs who served in the last Cabinet - Kenneth Clarke, John Gummer and Virginia Bottomley - told Mr Hague that they did not wish to serve in his shadow team. All those who wanted jobs were included.

Yesterday Mr Clarke was considering an offer of the chairman's job at Nottingham Forest football club, while Mr Gummer and Mrs Bottomley were preparing for life on the back benches. Both said they had decided to leave office before Mr Hague was elected.

Mr Gummer said: "I decided after the election that I felt I had been a minister for 17 years and I wanted a certain amount of freedom to do the things I am most interested in. I will be doing environmental things."

Mrs Bottomley said she intended to speak in the Commons on a range of issues in future. "I have had some tremendous jobs in different departments, but I thought it was time to be free and to let a new generation take over," she said.

A Tory party spokesman denied that any of the appointments, apart from that of Cecil Parkinson as party chairman, were short-term. "It is a cabinet of all the talents. It is inclusive of the leadership contenders, it is balanced and it gives us a fresh start in terms of new people being brought in. There is a minority of people from the old cabinet," he said.

Yesterday Lord Parkinson was contemplating the task of rebuilding the party and fulfilling Mr Hague's pledge to double its membership to 600,000.

The Shadow Cabinet

PETER LILLEY, Shadow Chancellor (with overall responsibility for the development of party policy)

MICHAEL HOWARD, Shadow Foreign Secretary

DR BRIAN MAWHINNEY, Shadow Home Secretary

LORD PARKINSON, Conservative Party Chairman

STEPHEN DORRELL, Shadow Education and Employment Secretary

GILLIAN SHEPHARD, Shadow Leader of the Commons (also shadows the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster)

LORD CRANBOURNE, Shadow Leader of the Lords

SIR GEORGE YOUNG, Shadow Defence Secretary

JOHN REDWOOD, Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary

MICHAEL ANCRAM, Constitutional Affairs spokesman (with overall responsibility for Scottish and Welsh issues)

SIR NORMAN FOWLER, Shadow Secretary for the Environment, Transport and the Regions

DAVID CURRY, Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

ALASTAIR GOODLAD, Shadow International Development Secretary

DAVID HEATHCOAT-AMORY, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

FRANCIS MAUDE, Shadow National Heritage Secretary

ANDREW MACKAY, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary

JOHN MAPLES, Shadow Health Secretary

IAIN DUNCAN-SMITH, Shadow Social Security Secretary

JAMES ARBUTHNOT, Opposition Chief Whip in the Commons

LORD STRATHCLYDE, Opposition Chief Whip in the Lords

Comments