By Tim Montgomerie
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It was as long ago as end-December that we last asked Tory members to say whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with members of the Cabinet*. Since then there have been some big political developments.
The three most notable changes are big drops in the approval ratings for the Prime Minister, Chancellor and the Culture Secretary.
I remain convinced that George Osborne is best placed to turn things round – not just for himself but also the Government. The Budget was not well handled but he remains one of the Government's most able ministers. All reports from trusted sources say he has a very good grip on the Treasury. He remains very capable of first deciding upon and then executing a change of course. If anyone can identify and then deliver the gear change that this Coalition needs it is him. He has lost a lot of admirers in the last two months but those who know him best remain very loyal and are confident that he can recover. Part of that recovery must mean the appointment of a big beast as Party Chairman. George Osborne cannot be Chancellor, General Election strategist, day-to-day communications manager and Number 10's effective chief executive. It's economic war-time and we can't have a Chancellor doing peace-time hours.
If Osborne was ever replaced as Chancellor a good bet might be Philip Hammond. He's now up to 4th spot in the Cabinet league table. The poll was completed before last weekend's interventions on gay marriage and Lords reform by the Defence Secretary and also before the MoD U-turn on the jump jet order which Tory MPs think he handled very expertly.
Justine Greening has overtaken Theresa May as the best-placed woman in the Cabinet, albeit only very narrowly. The Transport Secretary – when she isn't "remoding" – is emerging as one of the Government's best communicators. Last week she was tipped to replace Sayeeda Warsi at CCHQ. Believe it or not, while others have fought and held marginal seats, Ms Greening is the only Tory member of the Cabinet to win a seat from the opposition.
It is also notable that half of the Cabinet from Cheryl Gillan downwards have either very low or negative satisfaction ratings.
PERCENTAGE OF TORY MEMBERS SATISFIED MINUS DISSATISFIED WITH CABINET MINISTERS
(End December ratings in brackets)
Boris, btw, is the Tory that members are most satisfied with. 95% are satisfied with London's Mayor and just 4% dissatisfied.
CONSERVATIVEHOME SURVEY OF 2,090 TORY MEMBERS, 8TH TO THE 10TH MAY.
* In March members were, however, asked to rate the three most effective Cabinet ministers. The Chancellor was still polling well then.