David Howell was an ineffectual energy secretary in Margaret Thatcher's first cabinet, and was given the bum's rush shortly after. He doesn't improve with age, does he ?
As a long-time energy player myself I bumped into this cove several times. He had the type of early career that was somewhat less usual in the 60's and 70's than now. From Eton and Kings he went straight into the Westminster / Fleet Street village and - to his pleasure and mild surprise - was ushered onto the fast track to a safe seat in his 20's. Ever keen to please, he decided his contribution to the Tory Party would be books and newspaper articles in support of whatever he judged to be the prevailing orthodoxy, in the manner of the Vicar of Bray. Thus, during the early days of Heath's supremacy, he was scornful of monetarism; but changed his tune adroitly in order to find favour with Thatcher.
And thus he found himself, wildly out of his depth, in Thatcher's cabinet. Only one thing of note happened during his feeble period of tenure at Energy: the introduction of the Gas Levy and associated measures - a highly technical intervention in what passed for a gas market in those British Gas monopoly days. [I can explain it if anyone is really bored ...] But he could take no credit: it was driven by the technocrats, in the days when civil servants knew their business (before Atilla the Hen kicked the s**t out of them and replaced them in the policy-making pecking-order with lobbyists and consultants) and were confident enough to tell useless ministers what to do. Anyhow, Howell was rumbled as a duffer and it all ended in tears.
Fast-forward nearly 30 years and in 2010 this superannuated simpleton fetched up as an improbable junior minister in Cameron's first line-up. By coincidence, he is Boy Osborne's father-in-law ...