Peter Hoskin

Brown’s reshuffle headache

Brown's reshuffle headache
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Oh dear.  With each day that passes, it gets clearer that Brown's June reshuffle may cause him more trouble than it's worth.  For instance, this passage from today's Mail caught my eye:

"A senior Labour figure said: 'You can't plan a reshuffle around those who have transgressed on their expenses because that would quickly involve a whole lot of people.' Mr Darling is also resisting any attempt to move him amid Whitehall talk that the PM would like to replace him with his most trusted ally Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband is fighting for his job behind the scenes in the face of a campaign by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who has long dreamed of taking his post.

An ally of Mr Miliband added: 'David doesn't want to move and he's not the only one.'

A source warned that Mr Brown might find several cabinet ministers prepared to wreck his reshuffle rather than accept a demotion or sideways move.

'Gordon is going to find that playing Fantasy Cabinet on the back of an envelope won't make it happen.'"

And then there's the Hazel Blears situation.  If he ditches her, as he's expected to, then folk will just ask - rightly or wrongly - why ministers such as Alistair Darling, James Purnell and Geoff Hoon haven't got the boot too.  But if Brown hangs onto the Salford chipmunk, then he risks looking weak - both in terms of his authority within the Labour party, and in his response to the expenses scandal.  Again, another example of the lose-lose politics that our Prime Minister's mired in at the moment.