This time last year, Damian Green, the Conservatives' new shadow education and skills secretary, wrote a paper titled "How to make friends and win elections". The article, written for the magazine of the Tory Reform Group, of which he is vice-president, did not help win the Tories any elections. But, clearly, Mr Green has a recipe for making friends. Despite supporting every leadership candidate except the winner, he is one of the few centre-left pro-European Tories to remain in the shadow cabinet.
With a stint as Conservative spokesman on education and employment behind him, Mr Green has tried to make friends in higher education too. He helped to revive the Conservative academic liaison programme, was a director of the independent think-tank, European Media Forum, and, more recently, has argued in favour of a policy forum to develop ideas for a new Tory agenda. He has said that modern Conservatives should "value the public sector contributions of teachers, doctors and others" and recognise that the public sector will continue to be important.
Conservative education policy is still up for discussion but the higher education focus, he says, is likely to be on student support and degree standards. He also wants to see "genuine freedom" for institutions, insisting a Conservative government "will not seek to dictate every move of every college or micro-manage its affairs".
A governor of South Kent Further Education College for the past three years, he stresses the value of further education too.
Mr Green was educated at Reading School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he achieved a first in politics, philosophy and economics and was president of the Oxford Union. He started his career as a business journalist on newspapers, television and radio and worked in the prime minister's policy unit under John Major, before becoming MP for Ashford in 1997. He was appointed Conservative spokesman on the environment in June 1999.
He supported Ken Clarke in the 1997 leadership election and backed Michael Portillo in the latest contest, before returning to Clarke when Portillo was knocked out.