Michael Brown: Will this consensual approach win loyalty?

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The Independent Online

David Cameron's new consensual approach has also extended to his senior Shadow Cabinet appointments. By retaining George Osborne as shadow Chancellor, David Davis at the home affairs brief and Francis Maude as party chairman, Mr Cameron has done little to change the line-up announced by Michael Howard in May. Dr Liam Fox relinquishes his foreign affairs brief, taking on the defence portfolio to make way for the return of the former leader, William Hague.

Mr Cameron appears to have thought better of suggestions from zealous supporters that Mr Davis should be "humiliated" and has recognised that Mr Davis has formidable talents. Contrary to expectations, their many hours spent together during the past few weeks, on the hustings and in studios, have created mutual respect and the prospect of a fruitful working relationship. To have sought to force Mr Davis into a corner would have looked mean-spirited - not a trait of Mr Cameron.

It will be essential, however, for Mr Davis to recognise that the agenda of his - and indeed all other shadow ministers' - brief must flow from that set during the campaign by Mr Cameron. That will mean bowing to Mr Cameron on issues such as drugs policy and attitudes to 24-hour drinking. Mr Davis needs to emulate the late William Whitelaw, whose name became a byword for loyalty to Margaret Thatcher. Selflessness will need to be Mr Davis's own watchword in the months ahead.

Retaining Mr Osborne in the Treasury brief is no surprise. Some might have imagined Mr Hague would be better at this task than the relatively less onerous post of foreign affairs. But Mr Hague is also likely to be a "counsellor" and confidant for Mr Cameron. And Mr Osborne deserves to be rewarded for running Mr Cameron's campaign.

Francis Maude is the original party moderniser and has already recognised that it will fall to him to make waves on Mr Cameron's behalf with recalcitrant constituency associations when it comes to selecting female candidates and delivering on the pledge to "change the party".

Dr Fox may feel less than happy at the relative backwater of defence - especially since in the end he backed the winner.

The decision by Sir Malcolm Rifkind to retire to the backbenches - barely six months after re-entering the Commons - must make him wonder whether it was worth the sacrifice. Frankly his presence was the last reminder of the Thatcher/Major years and Mr Cameron could afford to sacrifice him.

However, the role of Mr Cameron's "kitchen cabinet", when the appointments are confirmed, will be as significant as the Shadow Cabinet itself.

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