Shadow Cabinet: New leader balances youth with experience

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Indy Politics

David Cameron recalled three senior Tories to ensure his youth was balanced by experience as he began forming his opposition team.

William Hague, the former Tory leader and Cabinet minister, returns as shadow Foreign Secretary to the front bench after a four-year gap. He will have to give up some of his outside interests which have been earning him about £1m a year, including a £200,000-a-year column for the News of the World.

He will cut back his speaking engagements and will only be able to talk about his foreign affairs brief. But he may retain some company directorships that he would have had to surrender if he had become shadow Chancellor.

Iain Duncan Smith, who was dumped as leader by his own party two years ago without fighting a general election, will chair a policy group on social justice, one of six being set up by Mr Cameron. But he will not return to the Shadow Cabinet.

Kenneth Clarke, the former Chancellor who has failed in three attempts to win the leadership, will chair a task force on democracy which will look at the independence of the Civil Service, the growing role of political advisers under Labour, and Lords reform. He will speak on these issues from the Tory front bench from time to time.

On his first day as leader, Mr Cameron announced that his closest political ally, George Osborne, 34, will remain as shadow Chancellor. David Davis, whom he defeated in the leadership election, keeps his post as shadow Home Secretary. Liam Fox, another leadership contender, loses his foreign affairs post for the less high-profile defence brief.

But the reshuffle hit problems when Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Foreign Secretary, resigned from the Shadow Cabinet after failing to land foreign affairs. He wanted to move from his work and pensions portfolio and told Mr Cameron two weeks ago he wanted to focus on foreign policy.

Oliver Letwin's status as Mr Cameron's policy guru was confirmed with the news that he will oversee a wholesale review of the party's programme. He will give up his post as shadow Environment Secretary.

Francis Maude, an arch-moderniser, retained his post as Tory party chairman, while Lord Strathclyde remains Opposition Leader in the House of Lords. Further Shadow Cabinet appointments will be made today.

Mr Hague and Mr Osborne will form an inner circle within the Shadow Cabinet with Mr Cameron. They are all close friends - Mr Osborne worked for Mr Hague when he was leader - and will drive forward their modernising agenda.

The reappointment of Mr Davis, as shadow Home Secretary, was a reward for a leadership campaign regarded by the Cameron camp as "hard, but clean". He avoided exploiting the row over Mr Cameron's refusal to answer questions about whether he took hard drugs as a student. There were reports at the weekend that Mr Cameron would humiliate Mr Davis by demoting him to defence, but the two men met on Monday and agreed that, if Mr Cameron won as expected, Mr Davis would keep home affairs, in which he has claimed two ministerial scalps - Beverley Hughes and David Blunkett.

"They started out with a wary dislike of each other at the start of the contest," said one Davis ally. "That has turned into a relationship of respect that has glimmerings of friendship."

Mr Davis sat by Mr Cameron yesterday for his first session of Prime Minister's Questions. Another Davis friend said: "He has got to become a Willie Whitelaw figure, loyal and not plotting. If he does that, he will find happiness in spite of his defeat."

Last night Mr Cameron was given a rapturous reception when he addressed the weekly meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs for the first time as party leader.

Mr Cameron is unlikely to appoint a deputy leader, a post previously held by Michael Ancram, who has stood down. He has appointed the Tory MP Desmond Swayne as his parliamentary private secretary, a post he also held for Michael Howard.

Some members of the Davis campaign team may also be rewarded. Mr Davis's campaign chief, Andrew Mitchell, who secretly held talks at difficult moments during the race with Mr Osborne, Mr Cameron's campaign manager, has made it clear he would like to stay on in charge of international development, where he has modernised the Tories' approach.

THE NEW SHADOW CABINET

* GEORGE OSBORNE, 34

Shadow Chancellor. Close ally of David Cameron who acted as his leadership campaign manager. His meteoric rise has been confirmed by his friend after a confident performance at Monday's pre-Budget report. St Paul's and Oxford-educated wallpaper heir who was a key advisor to Michael Howard, political secretary to William Hague and Downing Street political office veteran. Elected as MP for Tatton in 2001.

* DR LIAM FOX, 44

Shadow Defence Secretary. Eurosceptic right-winger whose stock in the Tory party was boosted by his enthusiastic leadership campaign. The Glasgow-born former GP was a parliamentary aide to Michael Howard when he was Home Secretary and a junior Foreign Office minister after a stint in the whips' office. A media-friendly operator, he won plaudits for his work as party chairman in the run up to the general election.

* FRANCIS MAUDE, 52.

Party chairman. Former shadow chancellor and shadow foreign secretary, who became an arch-moderniser, managing Michael Portillo's bid to win the Conservative leadership. He will be central to Mr Cameron's hopes to make the party look and think differently and is charged with driving through the new leader's plans to shake up candidate selection to encourage more women to become candidates and MPs.

* DAVID DAVIS, 56

Shadow Home Secretary. Defeated but unbowed "hard man", praised for running a clean campaign without exploiting drugs row over Mr Cameron. His reward was keeping one of top three jobs. Not a natural "Cameroon", relations are now warm. "They started out with a wary dislike of each other at the start of the contest," said one Davis ally. "That has turned into a relationship of respect that has glimmerings of friendship."

* WILLIAM HAGUE, 44,

Shadow Foreign Secretary. Famous for his childhood speech to the party conference, became leader at 36 in 1997. Beat Blair at the despatch box with his wit, but was criticised for lurch to the right. Resigned after 2001 election and became one of the highest-earning MPs, with books, speaking tours, and a column for the News of the World, worth a total £1m a year.

* OLIVER LETWIN, 49

Policy review chairman: A key role for the former shadow chancellor who moved to shadow the environment brief after the general election. Provided crucial intellectual muscle during Mr Cameron's triumphant party conference campaign and has pioneered his new boss's consensual approach by forming a Lib-Con alliance over climate change.

OUTSIDE THE SHADOW CABINET

* KENNETH CLARKE, 65

Democracy task force chairman. The former Chancellor's brief will include House of Lords reform, a cause he enthusiastically championed with the late Robin Cook during the last parliament, advocating a largely elected second chamber.

* IAIN DUNCAN SMITH, 50

Chairman of Social Justice Policy Group. The quiet man who tried to turn up the volume during his brief but disastrous stint as party leader is charged with studying the causes of poverty and helping parents and young people.

É JUST PLAIN OUTSIDE

* SIR MALCOLM RIFKIND, 59

Returns to backbenches. The former foreign secretary returned to politics as MP for Kensington and Chelsea at the general election after eight years out and plunged into a bid for the party leadership. The erudite Edinburgh QC probably made the best leadership speech of the party conference, but failed to gain headway and stepped down. The former shadow work and pensions secretary indicated that he would only be interested in the shadow foreign secretary job under Mr Cameron.

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