Friday, 5 June 2009

Open thread: Latest - Caroline Flint resigns

I suggest Next Left readers and contributors use this thread for news, comments and reaction to the detail of the reshuffle, the local elections and the leadership crisis, rather than have dozens of new posts. Though there may be new posts if contributors want to look in detail at something in particular.

9.15am: For starters, Alan Johnson to the Home Office, John Denham as Health Secretary and Alastair Darling staying as Chancellor appear to be the headline rumours. Yvette Cooper looks to be being promoted, perhaps to DWP.

John Pienaar (Radio Five Live) has just said "you can feel the momentum moving back to Gordon Brown". Nine hours is a long time in politics.

10.30am: Sky News is reporting the resignation of John Hutton. We do not know if this is about Gordon Brown's leadership. Indeed, Sky is reporting that it is for family reasons and that he is leaving Parliament. Hutton was famously opposed to Gordon Brown becoming leader in 2007. Notwithstanding my earlier post about James Purnell, if John Hutton were to call for a change of leadership then the charge of a Blairite move could have more credibility. There are clearly "Blairites" on both sides of the argument, which might make it a good time to ditch these last generation labels.

Developing ... Nick Robinson - recipient of the earlier Hutton message prior to the Blair-Brown transition - says John Hutton is supporting the Prime Minister's continued leadership. So this is a missed opportunity for the anti-Brown forces when it comes to the Cabinet.

10.50am: There are many calls for calm heads, but not everyone will be listening. Douglas Alexander warned against forming a circular firing squad in interviews this morning.

But John Prescott on LabourHome
does not confine himself to attacks on Hazel Blears and James Purnell in his rather spectacularly irate posting last night.

But whilst I knew we were short of money I didn’t realise we also lacked the will to fight these elections. The people responsible for this non-campaign – and make no mistake there was no campaign - were Harriet Harman, Caroline Flint, Douglas Alexander and yes, our former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears. I kept asking the party what was the strategy, what was our message, what was the campaign? I became so concerned I actually wrote to Harriet. Her reply was less than satisfactory. These apparently were the ‘messages.’

For the many v for the few
Grow your way out v cut your way out
On your side v on your own
Substantial leadership v insubstantial salesmanship

And that was it.

11.45am: John Hutton resignation statement - "This is not the place to go into my reasons for leaving".

12.15pm: Jonh Denham is Communities Secretary. I suspect Yvette Cooper might well now get Health.

1pm: Yvette Cooper will be Work and Pensions Secretary. The identity of the next Health Secretary remains a mystery. Perhaps Harriet Harman?

Nick Robinson is saying "this is not the reshuffle the Prime Minister wanted". True. But it is not the reshuffle that the media anticipated or wanted either. David Miliband and Alan Johnson are coming in for a lot of flak from the Spectator writers at the Coffee House, which is now calling for the left to take up the cudgels.

Andrew Sparrow reports on Ken Livingstone's to make this a factional issue against the "splitters" of the right. Meanwhile, Nick Robinson is referring to Peter Mandelson as effectively deputy Prime Minister. He might not endorse the Livingstone theory.

1.30pm: Both Caroline Flint and Liam Byrne have been at the Department of Health before.

2pm: You can save yourselves time listening to the TV and radio, as Paul Waugh has been leaked a Labour 'lines to take' briefing document which he publishes in full on his Evening Standard blog.

2.30pm: The Conservatives have won Lancashire County Council. Labour has lost 18 seats, though gaining 2 from the LibDems. The BNP have picked up their first county council seat, as Labour has lost all of the county council seats in Burnley, losing one to the BNP and five to the LibDems.

The Conservatives have also won Staffordshire.

Labour has lost Derbyshire - though the Conservatives are not sure if they can wrest the council from no overall control.

2.45pm The BBC has projected a national vote share of 23-38-28-11 (L-C-LD-Other). It is Labour's worst ever, and yet it is also similar to the 2004 results.

3pm: Stephen Byers has given a BBC interview saying that the Sunday results will show "whether Gordon Brown is a winner or a loser". He would not be drawn any further, saying it was not possible to assume what the results are. Is this, therefore, a signal that any backbench action is postponed until Monday or Tuesday. And does that delay suggest that the rebels may not have the support in place that they had anticipated?

5pm; Gordon Brown is on the front foot with his press conference.

The news is breaking of Caroline Flint's departure from the government. She belied rumours by giving a very loyal interview at 10pm last night. Will this change?


Stuart White said...

Some Next Left readers might have their attention elsewhere at the moment, but here are the latest results from Oxfordshire (usually a safe Tory county council): many seats still to declare, but current state of the parties:

Tory: 17
Labour: 3
Lib Dems: 2

Headington and Marston, scene of a hotly contested recent city council election, which Labour won, and where I trudge the streets for Labour, is still to declare.

Calix said...

Interesting to read an Independent article by Stephen Foley on a US perspective of the cirsis in Westminster - 'Ditching Brown looks crazy from here'. It's easy to forget just how assured and authoriative Brown was with world leaders recently and, as the article points out, really the economic crisis is what should matter. Brown still has a status overseas and people look up to him. Foley concludes the article by stating:-

The US has just ditched a
dumb leader for a smart one.
The UK looks from here as if
it might do the opposite.

When you're in a political storm it's easy to lose all sense of perspective. But, political actions carry a momentum that it's impossible to comprehend unless you're in the heart of them. I always remember the collapse of Gorbachev when he was the most popular world leader by far overseas.

Stuart White said...

Headington and Marston update: results now in! The Lib Dems pick up one of the two seats, Labour gets the other. The Labour winner was Roy Darke who won the city council seat back in April. Busy days ahead for Roy. Many congrats!