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Michael Fallon

Position: Deputy chair, Conservative Party 2010

Last Updated: Friday, September 24th, 2010

  • Michael Fallon has been MP for Sevenoaks since 1997.
  • He was a Schools Minister in John Major’s government until he lost the marginal seat of Darlington in 1992.
  • He was briefly an opposition Trade and Industry and then Treasury spokesman under William Hague’s leadership but most of his recent years have been spent on the Treasury Select Committee (TSC). He was Deputy to the Labour Chairman John McFall until the 2010 General Election and became a fierce critic of the tripartite system of bank regulation and of the UK authorities’ failure to regulate the massive increase in the gap between banks’ deposits and their lending.
  • On the backbenches he was an independent spirit; criticising George Osborne’s non-dom tax in 2007 and also his pledge to match Labour’s spending increases. He became a board member of the Centre for Policy Studies and recommended cuts in employment taxes and an end to national pay bargaining as part of an economic growth strategy.
  • He did not take a ministerial post when David Cameron became Prime Minister, preferring to stand for the Chairmanship of the TSC. Unfortunately for Mr Fallon he was not elected. Although he won broad support from his fellow Conservative MPs the consensus view is that the successful candidate, the more centrist Andrew Tyrie, won a landslide among Labour MPs who voted en masse against a candidate with a dry-as-a-bone Thatcherite reputation.
  • This week he was appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. Although he takes on the title that Lord Ashcroft gave up a few days earlier he will be doing a very different job from the Tory peer. Michael Ashcroft’s oversight of opinion polling and marginal seats has already been transferred to the Prime Minister’s Political Secretary, Stephen Gilbert. Mr Fallon will be a communications-focused Deputy Chairman. The Telegraph’s Benedict Brogan has described his role as “an unofficial minister for the Today programme, available at all times to go into the studios and defend the Government or duff up the Opposition”. ConservativeHome described him as “the thinking man’s Rottweiler”; pugnacious but certainly not tabloid.
  • You can expect him to be on Today and Newsnight, defending the government when it’s under attack from the new Labour leadership team. As well as his speaking skills and coolness under fire, he won the job for two other reasons: (1) His economic credentials and (2) his reputation on the Right. Fallon’s understanding of economics is pretty well unmatched on the Tory benches and he will be able to compete with the best of the economic brains that Labour can muster. George Osborne has looked isolated on the economic front since David Laws left the Treasury and the much lighter-weight Danny Alexander replaced him. Fallon will team up with Matthew Hancock MP, the Chancellor’s former Chief of Staff, to become the public face of the Coalition’s economic strategy when Osborne himself wants to stay above the fray. Fallon’s second advantage to David Cameron is his reputation on the Right. He’s not popular with everyone – he’s seen by some as “Mr Grumpy” – but he will assuage the worries of some Thatcherites that the Right is under-represented in the inner team. He’s certainly seen by the No Turning Back Group as “one of us”.

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