Tories show true colours now Lib Dems are gone


David Cameron has appointed a series of Jewish politicians to his first fully Conservative government.

The unveiling of the new ministerial positions this week means there are more Jews around the cabinet table than at any time since Margaret Thatcher's Tory administrations of the 1980s.

Mr Cameron has pledged to deliver his party's manifesto in full, meaning pre-election promises on protecting religious slaughter and supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be kept.

The departure of the Liberal Democrats from power can be expected to have a considerable effect on the new government's approach to Israel.

During last summer's Gaza conflict, the Lib Dems' then-Business Secretary Vince Cable sparked a cabinet row with Tory colleagues by pushing for a ban on arms exports to Israel.

Dr Cable lost his Twickenham seat in the early hours of Friday morning, and on Monday his job was handed to Sajid Javid, whose address at the Union of Jewish Students last December was said to be one of the most pro-Israel speeches ever given by a British minister.

Nick Clegg, who quit as Lib Dem leader on Friday morning after overseeing the loss of 49 seats, had backed Dr Cable last August and had joined Ed Miliband in leading political opposition to Israel's actions during Operation Protective Edge.

Israel's campaign had been "deliberately disproportionate" and amounted to "collective punishment", Mr Clegg had said.

In the event that hostilities in the Middle East were to resume, the new Tory government would be considerably less likely to follow the path the Lib Dems had attempted to push it along in coalition.

Mr Cameron also appointed veteran MP Oliver Letwin to the cabinet. He will be in overall charge of the Cabinet Office as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. During the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Mr Letwin, who is the son of American Jewish academics, held a series of leading shadow frontbench roles.

Grant Shapps, who was party chairman and had played a key role in co-ordinating election strategy, was demoted to a middle-ranking ministerial position at the Department for International Development.

The move followed embarrassment for Mr Shapps after allegations that he edited details about himself and political rivals on the Wikipedia website. He had rejected the claims, saying they were "categorically false and defamatory".

After accepting his new job he said in a statement that his role as chairman "was never the easiest position to hold, because it was also the most political post in the government. As a result, you take a lot of brickbats - some deserved, others less so".

As promised during the election campaign, the Prime Minister has appointed Ros Altmann as Pensions Minister. The finance expert and campaigner will be elevated to the House of Lords.

Eric Pickles will take over as parliamentary chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel after losing his job as Communities Secretary. He is also expected to work with the new Holocaust Memorial Foundation, set up as a result of Mr Cameron's Holocaust Commission.

Tobias Ellwood keeps his post as Middle East Minister at the Foreign Office.

Read our full Election 2015 coverage here

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