Something odd is happening. Though the Tories are cruising for electoral success, many sympathisers are worried that the party has neither the policies nor personalities to make a success of government.
In the City, many bankers and businessmen are unimpressed by George Osborne. People in the defence establishment think Liam Fox is a lightweight. And foreign policy-watchers like William Hague, but worries that he is only working part-time.
When David Milliband offered a duff analysis of international terrorism in The Guardian and managed to insult the Indian government, there was hardly a peep from the Tory frontbench, through the strategic and electoral reasons to speak up are obvious.
This may not prevent the Tories from wining an election, but it could make their time in government look a lot like Labour’s 1997-2001 term – full of intentions and spin, but short on delivery.
It will take more than an “Implementation Unit” to change this. However, George W Bush, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown may have shown the way out of this predicament. They have all brought outsiders or retired officials back into government. Bush brought back General Pete Schoomaker as Army chief and, famously, made Roberts Gates Defence Secretary. Obama has appointed retired admiral Denis Blair as the U.S spy chief and made the Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu Energy Secretary. Brown, meanwhile, has packed the Lords with outsiders, Peter Mandelson just being the most famous (and powerful).
Forgetting for a moment the constitutional problems presented by having too many peers in government as well as the problems arising from having apolitical ministers (like Shriti “Green Shoots” Vadera) what would a line-up of Tory GOATS look like? Readers will have their own views, but to kick-start the discussion here is my list:
1. Arcadia’s Phillip Green as Business Secretary
2. Olympian Sebastian Coe as Sports and Culture Secretary
3. Environmentalist Zac Goldsmith to head the Climate & Energy Department
4. The Times Foreign Affairs Editor Bronwen Maddox as National Security Adviser
5. Former General Rupert Smith as Chief of Defence
6. Ex-AVIVA boss Richard Harvey as International Development Secretary
7. Joel I Klein as Education Secretary (why not a Yank?)
8. Para-Olympian Chris Holmes as Veteran Affairs Secretary
It may also be wise to appoint a number of junior ministers from outside Westminster (though I confess to believing each department ought to have only one “Deputy Secretary of State”, not scores of Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries). In the Ministry of Defence, for example, I’d make someone like NATO’s Jamie Shea a junior minister or Ronnie Flanagan a Deputy Home Secretary.
What do you think?