Will Hain do for Brown?
You might expect a Cabinet resignation, sparked by a police inquiry, just seven months into a new Prime Minister's first term, to be a meltdown moment. Objectively, the elements of this story tell a terrible tale of incompetence, casual contempt for the law, and complacency at the heart of the Labour party. In the past hour we asked the question that should be a shocker but has become routine: has the Prime Minister been interviewed by the police? (Answer: No). All this on a day when the Treasury goes into reverse on CGT, Labour MPs vote for more money, and pandemonium grips the markets. This should be a dire day for Gordon Brown.
Hain: Did "Bottler" Brown Dither Too Long?
When Peter Hain did "the right and honourable thing", as Gordon Brown put it, and resigned, the Prime Minister acted fairly swiftly to reshuffle and freshen up his Cabinet. The Cabinet changes took less than five hours and the full ministerial reshuffle, 14 appointments in all, under six hours. In that time, three ministers under 40 were promoted to key Cabinet jobs and the gender balance tilted a little, with another woman joining the Cabinet as a full member.
Where now for Gordon Brown?
I wrote yesterday that Gordon Brown's New Year relaunch is in tatters. Now he's in the uneviable position of having to relaunch the relaunch. How should he go about it? We've already witnessed Brown's new approach to personnel - that is, to draft youthful faces into the cabinet. Now his comment piece in today's FT indicates one of the central planks of his policy approach - the reform of financial systems:
There are important differences between the cases of Peter Hain and those of Gordon Brown's deputy, Harriet Harman, and Labour's Scottish leader, Wendy Alexander, who are still awaiting the verdicts of the Electoral Commission. Harriet Harman. The most obvious difference is scale. Peter Hain failed to declare over £100,000 whereas Harriet Harman's deputy leadership campaign accepted a much smaller sum, £5000, from a proxy for David Abrahams and Wendy Alexander accepted just £950 from a Jersey-based businessman who was not a "permissible donor".
Some thoughts on the Hain resignation
Firstly, it should have come sooner: why did Hain wait for Police involvement before deciding that clearing his name was more important (and more time-consuming) than his two Ministerial posts? However, I'll still nod in respect to the man for taking the decision. It had to be taken, and it was the right one. Labour ministers have shown an extraordinary bouncebackability since Mandelson so he won't be out for long, but he can't fight this and do his two jobs at the same time. Late, but right.
A life as a comedian beckons for Paul Flynn MP - Is Peter Hain his idol ?
I you need cheering up at this depressing time of the year, read Paul Flynn's account of why we should be sorry that Peter Hain has lost his job. The almost comical list of Peter Hain's achievements does go on and, if it is to be believed, Peter Hain should be made a saint, given a nobel prize and should be given a statue on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square. Perhaps the most comical of Paul Flynn' assertions about who will not be sorry about Peter Hain departure are
Ken's fightback backfires
Like many Londoners, I have been reading and watching the steady stream of allegations being levelled at Ken Livingstone, the London Development Agency, and his inner circle of Advisers, with fascination: It really has been like watching a train crash.
DECLINING BRITISHNESS IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND?
OurKingdom: The National Centre for Social Research has just issued its new British Social Attitudes Report. This is taken from its 13 page pdf summary press release.
Only 13% of people born and living in England, and 3% of people born and living in Scotland, describe themselves as ‘only’ or ‘mainly’ British. Meanwhile, nearly half of those born and living in England say that they are ‘equally English and British’, and only one in five born and living in Scotland describe themselves as ‘equally Scottish and British’.
It’s 5/1 that Hain will get back to the Cabinet in 2008
Is this worth betting on? William Hill are offering odds of 5/1 that Peter Hain will be back in the Cabinet by the end of 2008, and 3/1 that he will return there by the end of 2009. ‘Mr Hain was a 7/1 shot to be out of the Cabinet by the end of this January and 2/1 to be the first Cabinet Minister to lose his position - so many political punters are celebrating his departure’ said Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe.‘However, given past situations with, for example, Peter Mandelson, it is far from impossible that Mr Hain could be back in the Cabinet in a comparatively short space of time.’