Tuesday, 16 November 2010

An enforcer for Number 10

There seems to be some strange things afoot in Downing Street.

Guido speculated yesterday, about a future in Number 10 if Andy Coulson were to leave for a job in the private sector. ConservativeHome went further and outlined four appointments that would address Downing Street's 'vulnerabilities'. Last week Iain Martin at the Wall Street Journal summarised why David Cameron doesn't want an enforcer type figure in Downing Street. It appears someone wants things to be done differently in Number 10, but who is behind these rumours and what do they hope to achieve?

One problem when, looking at the political office of a leading British politician, is it is almost invariably and unfavourably compared to President Bartlett's in the fictional West Wing. The problem is that reality doesn't match up to the high standards set by Josh, C.J and Toby.
Tim Montgomerie on ConservativeHome advocates the need for additional staff but I think this very unlikely, particularly after the row around employing an official photographer. It is also unlikely as, before the election, Conservatives advocated a cut in the special adviser budget. Those who have gone to Number 10 will define their roles and find their feet, but some will leave in time. Government is very different to being in opposition and it suits some but not others.

As to the substantial underlying point as to whether David Cameron needs an enforcer figure in his team. I think he probably does but it wont happen - at least in the short term - because of the dynamics of his inner circle. At various times in opposition the dominant adviser would be, in turn, Steve Hilton, Ed Llewellyn, Andy Coulson and George Osborne. All of them bring different experiences and talents to the team.

Steve Hilton can be infuriating but also utterly brilliant. He also - during the few times I was witness to the inner circle - was never afraid to tell Cameron how it was. George Osborne is a fantastic political tactician, Andy Coulson is able to take the ideas of Steve Hilton and make them relevant for families and Ed Llewellyn comes into his own on foreign issues. All teams drop the occasional ball but that is quite a strong unit begging the question as to how you could strengthen it.   

There is a lot of talented people in Downing Street below the fabled inner circle. Michael Salter, Henry Macrory, Gabby Bertin, Liz Sugg, Oliver Dowden are all experts in their roles so perhaps the answer to the problem, if indeed there is one, is to share the burden of responsibility more evenly throughout the team.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and I will be interested in what you have to say.