HALF the fun of cabinet reshuffles - shadow or substance - is looking through the small print to discover some of the promotions and demotions and plain disappearances that haven't made it into the headlines. For instance: who is now deputy leader of the opposition? David Davis was shadow Deputy Prime Minister tracking John Prescott but he was dropped by IDS from the Deputy Leader post and Michael Howard has not restored him to it. Instead, he has named Michael Ancram as his deputy in addition to his duties as shadow foreign secretary. This is surprising, given the reports that Mr Howard wanted William Hague to become shadow foreign secretary and that Mr Ancram was therefore his second choice. One cynical explanation is that since Michael Ancram is really the Earl of Ancram and heir to the Marquess of Lothian he can have only short-term ambitions in the House of Commons. Members of Conservatives Abroad on Majorca, and their guests, will be interested to know that two speakers at their meetings are in Mr Howard's list: Lord Strathclyde retains his position as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords where a testing time is coming up as the government tries to get rid of the remaining 90 or so hereditary peers without making any serious effort to reform the second chamber. John Bercow, who has been in and out of shadow ministerial office like a jack-in-the-box, pops up again as shadow secretary of state for international development under Michael Ancram. This is an assignment in which an able, energetic and ambitious MP can make a considerable mark and it will be interesting to see how Mr Bercow fares against the newly-appointed Hillary Benn who is the government minister in the Commons.


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