3rd June, 2009
Comment at end
BLEARS & SMITH RESIGN FROM CABINET. HOW MANY MORE?
Yes, I know I never wanted him as PM and will never forgive him for pushing for years and finally succeeding in replacing the political genius of Blair, but at a personal level this must be a horrendous few days for him and his family.
So, as members of the government and the governing party jump before they are pushed, Gordon in Wonderland struggles on.
“Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!'”
Having said that, Brown coped unusually well in Prime Minister’s Questions today. Cameron could not score against him even in his weakened condition.
I’m starting to wonder if Brown will make it to D-Day (Saturday 6th June) if things are as bad as expected in Thursday’s local elections. The EU results will not be known until Sunday. But they will follow the locals in outcome, as people vote against something, not for something as elections once were about.
Dubbed by Newsnight as “the Preshuffle” Jacqui Smith has resigned as Home Secretary and has thrown into utter confusion the Prime Minister’s expected reshuffle after the expected rout in the local and EU elections on Thursday.
I am sure it is just coincidental that other ministers have also announced they will not be standing next time round. And that some who hoped they would still stand have been told by Labour’s ‘Star Chamber’ – (communist sounding politburo?) – that they will not be permitted, due to the expenses scandal.
Beverley Hughes Children’s Minister AND former Health Secretary under Tony Blair Patricia Hewitt announced yesterday that they will stand down at the next election. Meanwhile the Chancellor, Alistair Darling faces the sack and the Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon is hanging on by his fingertips, both over expenses issues.
But it’s all very suspicious that these resignation announcements have been made the DAY BEFORE the local and EU elections. Jacqui Smith’s intended resignation was, she says, leaked and NOT by her. Blears was clearly NOT.
Did The Telegraph have any idea what they were putting in flow when they first started to release MPs’ expenses a month ago?
Read below Tom Watson’s letter to Tony Blair in September 2006, calling for him to go – here. Obnoxious little man. It comes to something when the rats on Brown’s side are jumping ship. He evidently didn’t have the guts to write another similar note to Brown, given how WRONG he was last time, even if THIS time he would have been right.
Watson falls on his own sword – pity he’d misplaced/misused the weapon in September 2006.
The Guardian reports on Labour’s Day of resignation, excerpts:
‘The collapse of morale sweeping Labour ranks was laid bare today when Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, and Tom Watson, one of Gordon Brown‘s closest political allies, revealed that they were quitting the government during a chaotic day that often appeared to be spiralling out of Downing Street’s control.
Although Smith’s departure had been predicted, the prime minister had hoped to deliver a choreographed reshuffle after Thursday’s European and local elections, and instead found himself wrongfooted by a leak that provoked fears among his supporters of an attempt to unseat him.
The surprise resignation of Watson and that of the children’s minister, Beverley Hughes, added to the sense of chaos, while two other Labour MPs – David Chaytor and Ian Gibson – became the latest Labour victims of the expenses scandal. Neither of them will be standing as MPs at the next general election.
Tonight there were suggestions that the chancellor, Alistair Darling, will tommorow announce that he too plans to stand down following widespread speculation that the prime minister wants to replace him with schools secretary Ed Balls.’
Balls for chancellor? You couldn’t make it up!
Meanwhile on Newsnight tonight Jeremy Paxman did his oft-used repeat of a question which an MP found hard to answer, a la Michael Howard. He asked repeatedly and got peculiarly UNCLEAR repeated answers from William Hague as to whether their main donor Lord Ashcroft now had British residency, as promised. Hague was als less than unambiguous as to what the Tories will actually DO about a vote on the Lisbon Treaty should they come to power in the near future?
NOW are the Tories about to be subjected to more incisive questioning?
Reminder of the 12 times repeated question from Jermey Paxman to Michael Howard:
Paxman – “Mr Howard, did you threaten to overule him?” (Derek Lewis, Prison Service Chief)
The Times’ Ann Treneman’s sketch of Jacqui Smith in the Commons today. Sadly, not as full of admiration and optimism as her sketch yesterday on Tony Blair, who was back in the Commons.
Now there’s a thought.
Tom Watson’s letter
The Labour Party has been my life since I was 15 years old. I have served the Party at every conceivable level and your own leadership since 1994 in a dozen different capacities, latterly as MP for West Bromwich East, a Government Whip, and as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence. My loyalty to you personally, as well as to the Party and the values we stand for, has been absolute and unswerving. The struggle to fashion the kind of credible, convincing, effective Labour Party you now lead has been the preoccupation of my adult years.
My pride in what our government has achieved under your leadership is beyond expression. We have revolutionised the lives and expectations of millions of our citizens, combining social justice with prosperity in a way which is unprecedented in the history of our country. Your leadership has been visionary and remarkable. The party and the nation owes you an incalculable debt.
So it is with the greatest sadness that I have to say that I no longer believe that your remaining in office is in the interest of either the party or the country. How and why this situation has arisen no longer matters. I share the view of the overwhelming majority of the party and the country that the only way the Party and the Government can renew itself in office is urgently to renew its leadership.
For the sake of the legacy you have long said is the only one that matters – a renewed Labour party re-elected at the next general election – I urge you to reconsider your determination to remain in office.
As you know, I had a conversation with the Chief Whip last night, in which she asked me to withdraw my support from the 2001 intake’s letter calling on you to stand down, or my position would be untenable as a government minister. I have reflected on this overnight. I cannot withdraw my name, and therefore I accept her judgement.
I do not believe that statements so far give us the clarity necessary to progress over the next year. Nor do I believe that newspaper reports of potential dates which may have appeared since I signed the 2001 intake’s letter can provide the clarity the party and the country so desperately need.
It is with the greatest regret, therefore, that I must leave the Government.
Tom Watson MP
Read Blair’s response and more of the last “coup” at my post of September 2006
With the three resigning Ministers being female and “Blairite”, (Smith, Blears and Hughes, as well as the Blairite former minister Hewitt), some are asking if the Ladies are out to get Brown – in revenge for Blair’s demise?
Meanwhile Mr Blair keeps his own counsel. As usual.