Friday, October 03, 2008


Reshuffle Sensation: Machiavelli Brought Back into Cabinet!

Since coming to power in 1997, Labour have not been too good at reshuffles. Mind you, few governments are; telling ministerial colleagues, and often friends, that they are no longer required is one of the worst aspects of being PM. After his partial recovery at Manchester, the last thing he needs is a botched reshuffle with journalists crowing and smarting colleagues giving spitefully negative briefings. I started this post just as the radio came on and have just learnt of the astonishing appointment of Peter Mandelson to the Cabinet.

This sounds like a bold step- certainly it was unexpected. Ministers lined up to go, apart from Ruth Kelly were Digby Jones, a non Cabinet post at Business at his own request, and, allegedly, Des Browne, Geoff Hoon John Hutton, and possibly Alistair Darling. But it was also rumoured that several of the 'fingered' ministers were not willing to go quietly. So Brown had a problem.

Bringing back Mandelson could be seen as a masterstroke in that: it will grab the headlines away from the more controversial moves; bring in from the old one of the most talented, and arguably mistreated New Labour politicians during the past decade; and demonstrate Gordon has sufficient magnamimity to welcome back someone against whom he had long directed the blowlamp of his visceral dislike. It seems he will replace John Hutton at Business, who now goes to Defence. Mandy would be perfect for such a post, especially in present circumstances. Des Browne? Backbenches it would seem.

Mandelson will need to be made a peer to qualify for office and it seems Geoff Hoon, tipped to replace Mandelson will not be leaving for Brussels. The cunning of this arrangement is that no embarrassing byelections will be necessary, apart from the Bolton West one in the case of Ruth Kelly; this will almost certainly be a loss(later note: sorry, I had not realised when writing that Kelly was staying until the election) but more losses would have lost serious momentum, especially as Glenrothes is probably a shoo-in for the SNP. Finally, having Mandy back in the fold re-establishes at the centre of British politics, the most creative political intelligence and the williest strategist since Nicholo Machiavelli. What other surprises will this reshuffle bring I wonder? How will the party react? Given Mandy's long list of enemies, not well, I would guess.

Surprise about Des Browne. What had he done wrong?

I though Ruth Kelly was leaving at the next GE, so there won't be a by-election.

The BBC is saying Tony McNulty has moved to the DWP but that James Purnell is staying where he is. Hmm...
Thanks Sam. My silly mistake- I've added a note.
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