Bye bye Jacqui...
Well, that was hardly unexpected was it? Jacqui Smith’s time in nominal charge of the Home Office have been an unmitigated humiliation for her, and a bit of a disaster for the country as a whole. She would surely have been demoted in the coming reshuffle anyway, so her statement that she wants to stand down isn’t much more than an acceptance of reality.
It therefore doesn’t really affect Brown’s reshuffle dilemma. But then, that’s a big enough problem on its own. He needs to use it to distract attention from Labour’s calamitous election results (I predict that they’ll certainly finish behind UKIP in the Euros, and will struggle to breach 20% of the poll in either election). However, what is there that he can do?
Darling will surely go. His problems over expenses are just the icing on the cake. But does Brown really want to replace him with Ed Balls. Balls about as popular, even (or especially) within the Labour Party, as a horny dog at a Miss Lovely Legs competition. He’s also a poor media performer, being a much more effective back-room boy. To sum up – the appointment of Ed Balls as Chancellor would be a retreat so far into the bunker that there would be little chance of emerging.
So, Balls to be Chancellor then. Which means that Cooper has to move, but that’s incidental. The other really big move will concern the Foreign Office. It’s no secret that Mandelson is desperate to be Foreign Secretary – Herbert Morrison and all that. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his price for continuing to support Brown as PM wasn’t a spell in the FCO. So Miliband D has to go – to where? Education? Hell of a demotion. Home Office? Possibly. Does Johnson move? Will there be a ‘dramatic’ return for Blunkett, or Milburn, or Clarke (fat chance)?
Does any of this matter? Not for long, probably. If the election results are as disastrous as I expect them to be, there will almost certainly be movement towards a denouement. If Darling is sacked, he will surely be tempted to do a Geoffrey Howe. Things could get very interesting over the next week or two.
Oh, one more thing. While we’re talking about the transcendent uselessness of the Telegraph, can I draw your attention to something I picked out in the immediate aftermath of David Davis’s resignation?
On one thing though, the Labour boys are completely wrong.
“Uncontained glee too at the appointment of Dominic Grieve, who, he predicts, will be made into "mince meat" by Jacqui Smith.”
No. He won't. Jacqui Smith couldn't make mince meat out of meat, with a mincing machine.
I may be wrong, but does anyone remember Jacqui Smith making mince meat out of anything other than her own career?