All change?.. not quite all..

Having resisted the pressure in the Commons to respond to the debacle at the Home Office, the results from the local elections in England were, in the end, too much to take – the cabinet reshuffle is under way, or as former Health Secretary Frank Dobson puts it “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”. One deckchair which isn’t being rearranged, apparently, is our very own Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain. Martina Purdy contemplates his 12 months in office [only 12 months? it seems much much longer – Ed] Update He’s delighted to be staying in Northern Ireland.. and in Wales of course.. More Full shuffle details here

  • slug

    Conservatives advanced well in some places where it already had councillors, e.g.Winchester, but failed to advance in other places where it didn’t, e.g. Oxford City, illustrating the difficulties of returning to places once you have no representation at all.

    Still, it does say the Conservatives are back as a powerful opposition.

    Quite a big reshuffle. SDLP-supporting Ruth Kelly is the new John Prescott, taking over his responsibilities.

  • barnshee

    Sad to see the start of I suppose the inevitable end of what was left of socialism in UK politics sad because of the lost opportunities

  • DK


    Socialism has been in decline since the fall of the Berlin wall. Like capitalism before it, the ideologies have moved on. Labour and Tory are more concerned with emphasis on personal responsibilities these days. It’s more about freedom of choice vs. protection of rights these days than working hours and employee/employer rights.

  • DK

    Hmm, my password for my last post was “labor51” – is this a council election result?

  • I think Blair’s focus has to be on the North for the next six months. Blair needs a good news story to go out on, and Ireland offers the best opportunity for that. Replacing Hain would have been an additional difficulty for the process, one that would not have been needed.

    Considering the legacy / history thing, Blair will want to be remembered as the Prime Minister who brought peace to the North, rather the one who brought hell to Iraq. Also, Ireland is the most controllable of his potential legacy ‘out-points’, whereas other issues are less controllable (such as Iraq).

    Given this state of affairs, two things happen. First, Blair gives far more attention to the North in the next six months than he has done for years. Second, as he gives more and more attention to the North, the ‘difficult’ parties will begin to sense an opportunity to bargain a hell of a lot of concessions out of Blair in return for delivering the platform he needs from which to exit.

    The result of this is that the British government position (no assembly – no wages) will begin to focus on what is meant by ‘no assembly’, and may well allow wages / the assembly to reform under circumstances that we would not currently define as ‘the assembly reforming’. That may mean a watered down version, a shadow kind of thing (edited link – moderator), or some other mish mash of fudge and excuse.

    There will undoubtedly be concessions available for Sinn Fein in this process as well, and it will be a question of getting the balance right. SF would do well not to stick too rigidly to their demand for full implementation of the GFA, because like it or not, it’s going to change over the next few months as a deal becomes increasingly imminent.

    So that’s what’s going to happen. For next Saturday night’s lotto results, I’ll post later 🙂

  • Crataegus

    Clever move having a reshuffle the day after a bad election result diverts press coverage.

    Blair will last until someone has the balls to challenge him. It was a bad night for Labour and some good councillors lost their seats through no fault of their own. In Camden they weren’t that bad and I feel sorry for those out in Dagenham. These results will make backbenchers jittery.

    UKIP a one trick pony, BNP dismay. Not sure exactly how Respect faired, but Greens showed some interesting gains. Down in Lewisham they did very well which surprised me, also tree hugging must be in fashion in Norwich where they have 9 councillors.

    Lib Dems seem adrift and going no where can’t be too pleased but doubtless relieved given the coverage they recently enjoyed.

    Whilst Conservatives made gains they have a lot of ground to make up before they are really challenging Labour. The next election is for Labour to loose, the Conservatives won’t gain a majority on their own merit.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all, I view the election results a wee bit differently especially how it will play out in the north of Ireland. Paisly is smelling the dimise of a man he hates…tony blair ….and a whiff of victory paisley’s way. ergo…Paisly will be a bigger problem for blair than before. It’s just a matter of time before paisly starts taking some credit for blairs problems.

  • Brian Boru

    I think the BNP success reflects that the UK may be the next domino to fall in terms of having a strong foothold for the Far Right. I think it is part of a Europe-wide process where voters concerned about the immigration free-for-all and PCness are rebellion against establishment parties. While I deplore some aspects of the BNP and what members have said, I also feel that many who vote for them do so not because they fully agree with them but because they feel they are the only ones really listening to British people over immigration.

    How long before a similar party emerges in the Republic? I would consider voting for it because I’m at the end of my tether with the ‘mainstream’ parties. I abhore racism but wanting some kind of regulation of immigration isn’t of itself racism.

    Regarding the Tories I think having a young leader hasn’t done them any harm. The polls apparrently show that whereas in the exit polling on who would make the best PM between Brown and Cameron, Brown is on 36% to 30% for Cameron, that among women Cameron is on 36% (ahead I think). I was somewhat amused by Caroline Spelman of the Tories on BBC last night trying to explain this in terms of women returning to the Tories simply because of issues. It is actually because women voters go for young and handsome politicians more.

  • Brian Boru: ‘How long before a similar party emerges in the Republic? ‘

    PD’s have been around since the mid-eighties, matey 🙂

  • IJP


    The old adage is true – oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them.


    Conservatives advanced well in some places where it already had councillors, e.g.Winchester, but failed to advance in other places where it didn’t, e.g. Oxford City, illustrating the difficulties of returning to places once you have no representation at all.

    I have to say that story has a certain resonance closer to home… 🙂

  • esmereldavillalobos

    My computer broke down this week due to an infestation of viruses. I spent 2 days and many frustrating reboots trying to fix it. The guys from Microsoft and Linksys in New Delhi spent many a frustrating hour changing settings in Windows to try and get it to work differently, without success. Eventually I had to call in an engineer to fix the problem manually – the nuclear option was taken (complete reinstall) and my computer works fine again now.

    If the great Satan is to remain in opposition, a complete reinstallation of the government is needed, starting with the PM. The Blairites are fading and have lost credibility and cannot govern effectively anymore. Brown needs to engineer Tone out of No 10 now if he wants the goodwill of the country to carry him through the next election followed not by a reshuffle of the same tired old programs but a new injection of young blood (the Millibands of this world etc and his financial guy whose name escapes me again…). If not I fear that commedy Dave will be running the country soon :0

    Only good thing was the Tories did not get Colchester – phew!

  • Crataegus

    Just looking at the London results again and thinking ahead to the next European election its going to be a real dog fight. BNP and respect could take seats and the Greens look a lot stronger and should hold.

    More bad news for Labour down the line in both the European and London Assembly elections. They face a stronger Conservative Party as their own base is undermined by these other parties.

  • slug


    There are small parties that split off the Tory vote too, e.g. the UKIP.

    Its interesting how far UK politics has moved from the 2 party system. (I read on the BBC today that back in the 1960s when Labour got 28% in the Local Elections, the Conservatives got 60%).

    In terms of MPs the Lib Dems have risen a lot and the nationalists get more MPs than before, and the Greens could well take an MP next time in Brighton.

    All of which should increase the power of the Commons over the Prime Minister.

  • Crataegus


    Sorry to hear about your virus problems and the analogy is interesting.

    I agree Blair is an embarrassment and really must go. Who trusts him? He is destabilising the Labour Party for what exactly, some personal addiction to power? What on earth does he think he is playing at? He is spent; how on earth does he expect to have a cohesive cabinet when everyone knows he is on the way out.

    What is keeping him in place is the reticence of many Labour MPs to be seen to rock the boat, it is a sort of abuse of loyalty and no one seems willing to act as the stocking horse. Once some decide to act Blair will be out fast.

    What qualities does the PM exhibit? Selfless devotion to the good of the party or utter self interest, palpable contempt and arrogance? Tenacity certainly, but perhaps a bit like the guest at the party who doesn’t know when to leave.

    A colleague is contemplating sending a large tin of Brasso to No10 . Great at removing tarnish from brass necks.

  • Crataegus


    You are right about UKIP. I find it difficult to assess UKIP, they don’t seem to have a solid base. In Camden people like the Greens were out on the street, they were trying hard to get elected as Respect were in Tower Hamlets and the BMP were definitely active. Against a strong and rising Conservative Party I think UKIP will stall but against a failing Labour Party Greens and Respect could move forward. Regrettably the old Liberals are in slow decline.

    With the exception of the BNP I would like to see all the smaller parties make progress just to increase variety and increase the diversity of representation, but I think it will be a while yet before Greens take a seat in Westminster. Down in Brighton Pavilion they are doing well and they have substantial and growing support in Norwich South parts of London such as Lewisham, Oxford, Lancaster and around Leeds. But moving from where they are to a position of majority is a big leap. A few more elections like last night and they may achieve the critical mass in some constituencies. I would imagine their biggest opportunity for major advance would be the next European election and from last night the question is do they look like adding seats. I would imagine their seats in London and the South East look more secure. Eastern would look stronger but although but enough to take a seat? On a good night they could take 5-6 seats but they would need to improve on last night.

  • ecce romani

    Just a thought but ruth kelly would have been a fun choice for the Ni job and hain could have been dispatched to the perma tan grave yard for shite politicians

  • esmereldavillalobos

    The machiavellian theory would suggest that PM is trying to be as unpopular as possible so when the time comes there is a “Thank God he’s gone, thank God we’ve got Gordon!” boost for New Labour. Highly unlikely for someone so image obsessed but you never know…

    Crat, I saw no evidence of UKIP or the greens in East Anglia during the campaign or the British Nazi Party either thank goodness. The Lib Dems are in the unfortunate position of having to cope with a young vibrant tory leader (albeit with no policies) at a time when the best man for the job (Kennedy) is persona non grata. No change was a good result for the Lib Dems given the events of the last 6 months (CK, Oaten, Hughes et al). I predict status quo until after the next election where they may hold the balance of power – a new leader (?Opik ?Huhne) will then be needed to push on into real 3 party politics in the 21st century.

  • Crataegus


    Ming is simply a caretaker, and I think he is a safe pair of hands. He gives others in the party time to prepare for the next leadership challenge. If he had not been elected it may have been Hughs and I think that would have been a real mistake. As for Kennedy the press pack were out to bring him down and when that happens it is best to go gracefully.

    I would imagine Ming will be a lot more helpful about handover than Blair and he knows his time is limited.

    I like Opik, seems a decent guy. Anyone with an interest in Astronomy is OK with me.

    I agree that the Lib Dems are in a difficult position but especially as the seats they hope to gain are more likely to be Conservative than Labour. I hope there is a hung government next time round and the Lib Dems use it to obtain PR.

    I can’t see the Conservatives replacing Labour on last Thursday’s form, but since then it would seem that Blair is hell bend in destroying the Labour party to satisfy his own ego.

    With regards Greens they were certainly active in Camden, but small party with small base so I suppose it depends where they were targeting. I wish them well, may not entirely agree with their purer than pure approach, but have to recognise that they are sincere and are ideologically driven. Caroline Lucas is a very capable lady as are others in that party. Their intentions are good and they have a constituency. In a democracy it should be properly represented as alas should some other less benign views.

  • kensei

    “I abhore racism but wanting some kind of regulation of immigration isn’t of itself racism.”

    This is one of these lines that is endlessly trotted out but I can’t help that, actually, there is racism behind it. On every sensible measure immigration is a good thing, particularly in the Republic which needs more workers to grow. Why don’t you want them comning?

  • kensei

    last one didn’t come out right, should “can’t help feel that there is some racism behind it..”