Monday, March 30, 2009


Smith should not Resign over the Porn Films but....

Does Gordon always scowl so fiercely when his Home Secretary is at the Despatch Box? I'm betting he will be for quite a while, if he doesn't actually sack her after a decent interval has elapsed since his routine expression of full confidence in her. Much worse to my mind is the other cloud hanging over her. The citing of her bedroom in her sister's London place as her 'main residence' while claiming big bucks for her constituency home may be within in the letter of parliamentary expenses law but it sure as hell is not within its spirit.

Now we learn of the blue movies watched by her husband.I have nothing against anyone watching such material as I cannot see what harm it does anyone outside the tiny religious few who would prescribe our sexual and viewing habits. The fatal flaw is that it makes her husband look sleazy and his wife extremely embarrassed by association. I feel truly sorry for her as the red-top hyenas tear at her reputation and authority; she is quite innocent of any blame and her husband has stepped up to apologise anyway.

The Guardian today does not call for her resignation but it does cast doubts on her suitability for her post. It defines the 'really urgent story' to be:

about a low-grade minister in a high-grade job

It's always hard for us on the outside to judge how good ministers are: some clearly have force and competence while others just seem to be good at acting competent while we have to await civil servants' memoirs to find the real story. As far as I can discern Jacqui Smith is not very effective as a communicator; that's not the whole job obviously but it's the most important one. I don't think she should resign over trhe porn films; the housing question might prove to be another matter. Nor would I be surprised if Gordon quietly reshuffles her to the back benches in the summer.

As The Guardian says, she has become a 'liability'. What emerges more graphically for me though, than anything else from this sad episode is how urgently parlaimentrary esxpenses need to be reviewed and brought in line with most other custom and practice in the public and private sectors.

I agree with your final comment Bill but I am afraid she has become a liability now and she will surely have to go.

I have posted about this myself here.
MP's expense now in the public domain. Check over at to see plenty of comment.

And I'm afraid there's only one way of interpreting the evidence.

The current climate reminds me very much of the last days of the Thatcher regime - when the Tories went down in a tide of slime, sleaze, and corruption.

The same thing is happening again - but many/most of the present government seem oblivious to the fact.
Not sure she is innocent of ANY blame Bill - she, after all, was the one who signed off for the expenses. Does she employ the same rigour when checking the increasing number of suspects arrested without evidence? As the powers of a Home Secretary increase, the least we can surely hope for is one who is competent?

I think Nick Robinson carried a good post on this, though, when he looked at the yawning gap between the public and political perceptions of Smith and others.
The Robinson article is interesting but does come across as slightly pathetic in tone.

"Working mum, devoted husband, nice sons, job in jeopardy". Tough. Due to Labour's incompetence there are millions of people in this position with tougher lives than her's.

MP's are not paid a huge amount, but it is liveable wage. She has milked it for 12 years, really cheating the spirit of the rules by claiming for a home that just isn't her's and employing her husband at relatively huge expense(for a secretary).

She looks damaged beyond repair. Her presence in the Government is now an open goal for the Tories.

Being incompetent is one thing. But this will finish her for good. I will laugh as she loses her seat next year.
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