Wednesday 3 June 2009

A reshuffle surprise

It is always a mug's game to try to predict a reshuffle - even one where much of it seems to be breaking 48 hours early. It is a sliding square puzzle where one wrong move throws the whole picture. And I am out of the Westminster loop on paternity leave, where leaving Sky News burbling quietly in the background while sleep deprived would be to risk insanity.

Still, I am unconvinced that what seems to be emerging as the conventional wisdom makes sense. So let me offer a wildcard suggestion, based on absolutely no inside information whatsoever.

LabourList last night showed that the betting odds for Home Secretary and Chancellor had Darling favourite for the former and Ed Balls for the latter. Most of the speculation has seemed to be about Alastair Darling at the Home Office, Ed Balls at the Treasury, and the question of whether Peter Mandelson might become Foreign Secretary (which might also mean David Miliband at the Home Office).

John Denham is probably best qualified to be Home Secretary, having been an authoritative and independent chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

But with so many women leaving either the government or the Commons, an all male line-up in the major offices of state could well seem a politically regressive move.

A peerage for JK Rowling to lead the child poverty charge is probably a long-shot.

So what are the other options?

Steve Richards notes in his column that Ed Balls has unmatched credentials to be Chancellor, while also being a highly controversial choice as Gordon Brown's closest political ally.

But I have not seen anybody mention one other young Cabinet minister who also knows economics and the Treasury inside out.

Step forward Britain's first woman Chancellor ... Yvette Cooper?

1 comment:

TTGZ said...

Surely placing Mandelson as Chancellor would be the wisest move? It would silence blairite rebels, place the 2010 General Election front and centre, take the fight right to Cameron's weak spot (Osborne), and would have the requisite "shock" factor that reshuffles depend on to display original thinking and leadership?

It may also be more likely than the mainstream press are aware of. Mandelson keeps saying he wants to stay on in his "economic portfolio" - nb not his position as business sec - when rejecting claims of seeking foreign sec.

Also, who do you think was the one who leaked to the times to try and scupper Balls as Chancellor. My bet would be that he has his eye on the job.