Woodward looses out in mixed fortunes for our former SoSs

It was a patchy day for the Grand Lodge of NI Secretaries of State. Can you believe it, in the list of cabinet rank quitters (7), they actually forgot about Paul Murphy. Can you believe that? Nice man, too nice maybe, Paul must win the award for most obscure cabinet minister ever. He was the comeback kid nob Paul Murphy?ody ever noticed both times. Very unlike his successor/predecessor. There they go, out the swing doors of the Welsh Office and back again, out again. Murphy – Hain –Murphy – and guess who? Yes Hain again! Are there only two Labour MPs in Wales? I’m glad PH has been restored though, after his little difficulty with (deputy leader’s election) expenses. At least he’s got profile. Sadly for him, Shaun Woodward was denied the promotion to Home Secretary he’d worked his socks off for, in spite of several day’s serious smootching around the studios on Gordon’s behalf, sounding more like his own butler than a minister (I’m guessing about the butler, I’ve never met him, just to be clear).. A Tory renegade in one of the great offices of state was a risk too far, even for Gordon at bay. Shaun will continue to take his ease at Hillsborough, one of two stately homes he occupies, or on Gordon’s knee. A tricky balancing act that one, falling off every time Gordon needs to throw a stapler at a retreating minister. There was a delicious moment late last night on Sky when Shauns claimed Brown had led the world at G20. The normally super cool but by now exhausted Adam Boulton just blew up. “I’m sick of hearing that” Adam exploded,” it isn’t true. There was Obama and they didn’t get a second tranche” With the very greatest respect Adam,” replied a hurt Shaun, “Iam trying to answer your question” We were to hear that oleaginous “with huge respect” and the very greatest respect” scores of times more as he defended (pretty unflappably I must admit) the stickiest of wickets. But it did him no good. By contrast John Reid wrote himself out of the whole script in advance. And wasn’t it splendid to see my personal favourite Grand Master Peter Mandelson become ( almost ) deputy Prime Minister with the moniker First Secretary of State? I knew you’d all be pleased.

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