Hazel Blears fingered by Gordon in expected Commons purge

It may not be the best metaphor for the perky red-headed Communities Secretary, but it looks as if the biggest scalp about to taken in the expenses scandal will be Hazel Blear’s. Gordon ditched the Speaker privately but Ms Blears has had no such luck. He called her flipping sale “totally unacceptable” although “she has not broken the law, she has not broken the rules of the House of Commons.” This surely seals her fate in Gordon’s expected summer reshuffle. So falls the populist biker politician who only 10 days ago (“YouTube if you want to”), would not have ruled herself as a future leader of the Labour party. Scorching critic Peter Oborne in the Mail lists other members of the cabinet and shadow cabinet deserving the sack, Darling, Smith Purnell, Nick Brown ( Labour); Grayling, Gove (Conservative). This still seems unthinkable. And yet… nobody knows where this is heading: the slide could run on and on and seems beyond Gordon Brown’s power to control at the moment. His bumbling bureaucratic style is frankly not much better than Mick’s. Incidentally, some of papers failed to give the Blears story full weight, as it took one question and two supplementaries to drag it out of Brown. It also shows the perils of live blogging, unless you’ve got brilliant shorthand. ..

Can errant MPs receive natural justice? I doubt it, though they have only themselves to blame. The Speaker might even have saved himself as late as yesterday, if he had behaved impartially to his critics and said on Monday what he said on Tuesday.

To return to the question – what sort of Speaker do we want? Vernon Bogdanor thinks the new Speaker must lead reform and explain the role to the people direct..Mike White notes the divide in MPs’ opinion and hints at minimalism himself. Youngish radical Jonathan Freedland is an all-singing, all -dancing constitutional reformer – and that’s only the range of opinion in the Guardian…. If you’re interested in a new CV for Speaker, lead reformer or ornamental chairperson, follow the Times, put Vince Cable’s name against the job and ask yourself – just the right man or a waste of his talents?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London