Shadow Cabinet

Perhaps a more ruthless Shadow Cabinet resuffle would have cast David Cameron in a better light. In particular, though his old friend George Osborne made an excellent pitch to stay as Shadow Chancellor earlier in the week, demonstrating that friendship takes second place to effectiveness, would have been a powerful message. Against Gordon Brown, William Hague or David Davis would have been a better bet.

William Hague's return to front-bench politics is welcome, though it is not clear to me that Shadow Foreign Secretary is the best role. His leadership of the Party was associated - admittedly mostly by the media - with a European monomania. A wider brief for his superlative Parliamentary and conference oratory would have been better.

I had hoped Oliver Letwin would return to the Shadow Home Office role, but perhaps David Davis is better able to sell libertarian ideas to the party, and Letwin's wider policy role is certainly to be welcomed.

It is a shame Kenneth Clarke still seems unwilling to serve under anyone else. As a Shadow Leader of the House, Constitutional Affairs spokesman or even Party Chairman he would have excelled.

But, overall, it is a strong team, and one Labour has reason to fear. More even than the strength of the team, Labour needs to fear the herd instinct of the media, something which has favoured them since at least 1994. Suddenly journalists seem to have decided that a resurgent Conservative Party makes a good story . . . and that is what will put Labour on the defensive.

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