Peter Hoskin

Balls to be sent Home?

Balls to be sent Home?
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It's reshuffle rumour time, I'm afraid, with a few of today's papers carrying stories about whom Brown might ditch and promote in the aftermath of the local elections.  Much of it centres on Jacqui Smith, who appears to be the favourite to get the chop.  And there's also some chat about Hazel Blears getting demoted in the wake of her YouTube smackdown of our Dear Leader.

Myself, I can't see Blears getting moved - Brown could well do without alienating her even further, especially as doing so would probably infuriate plenty of others in the Labour Party.  But sacking Smith would be a far less politically dangerous move.  The Home Secretary is far from popular with either the public or, so it's said, her colleagues.

But who would she be replaced with?  The names of Alan Johnson and Shaun Woodward are being bandied around, but the markets seem to be falling behind none other than Ed Balls.  According to Ladbrokes, the odds that the current Schools Secretary will become Home Secretary before the end of the year have shortened from 7/2 to 11/4.  

Others in the Cabinet will be looking at this through the prism of the post-Brown era.  Does a promotion for Balls help him out in any leadership contest?  Or will the "poisoned chalice" of the Home Office job finish off his chances?  The British public waits with bated breath...