Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Jowell: will she stay or will she go?
Why she should go
1. Labour Party MPs and members are still worried about: her apparently blithe signing of successive mega sized mortgage agreements; her unlikely claim that she knew nothing about the 'gift'; the very fact that she was party to such dealings with relatively vast sums of money. Labour rank and file are unhappy about ministers with plenitudes of cash when their rason d'etre is supposed to be the alleviation of problems caused by poverty. [The Sunday Times quoted and insider as saying that the reason New Labour people are so interested in money is that they mix with mega-rich people and begin to think they'd like the same levels of luxury for themselves.]
2. Jowell is down to lead the campaign for the London elections. Her position will cause problems- Kate Hoey has already asked her to step down from the role.
3. Hubby's ongoing involvement with Italian court matters offers up a very big hostage to fortune- what else will crawl out from the woodwork?
4. Alastair Campbell has said that anyone dominating the headlines with personal problems for more than 14 days, has to go as from then on the government is damaged by the inability of the minister to do the job properly.
Why she should stay
1. There is no conclusive evidence she was connected with her husband's dealings and she has been cleared by both Gus O'Donnel and the Standards Commissioner.
2. Labour MPs went out of their way to show support for her yesterday when she faced questions in the Commons. What is more, even the Tories held back from demanding her scalp.
3. Blair is apparently solidly behind her (though he would be wouldn't he?).
4. Much of the clamour for her head is media led by rightwing papers like Mail.
5. Despite 'Campbell's Law', Ruth Kelly was able to tough it out some weeks ago when her conduct in office was questioned and is now firmly back in the driving seat. What's to say Tessa can't do the same?
So will she survive? I think it's close- no more than evens if I were a betting man- and incidentally, even my betting- mad mate cannot find any odds on her going.[Though he did find 70-1 on Blair going by end of the month if anyone is interested]
Okay, so her lifestyle is a million miles away from that of the majority of Labour supporters, and that's a valid issue for people like Kilfoyle - but it was ever thus. Labour has always had its fair share of champagne socialists, and some of them (eg Tony Crosland, Michael Foot) were actually quite good socialists in spite of it.
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