James Forsyth

If Smith wants to get on with the job, she’ll have to face the press first

If Smith wants to get on with the job, she’ll have to face the press first
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There are certain positions in government in which you can be hidden away, protected by your colleagues. Home Secretary isn’t one of them.

Jacqui Smith has to work out how she is going to handle her return to public life. I’m sure there will be those advising her to carry on as if nothing had happened, to make an announcement on a serious subject and dare the press to question her about her husband’s viewing habits. But this would be a mistake. The press are going to ask her about this scandal pretty much regardless and for her to be questioned about porn movies after an announcement on anti-terrorism would just highlight why so many people think her position is untenable.

Another approach, taken by the Prime Minister this morning, is to claim that this is a “personal matter”. As Pete suggested earlier, this approach won’t work as the whole point is that the taxpayer was charged for the movies, making it a public matter.

Smith would be far better off tackling this head on. She should try and clear the air by sitting down for a one on one interview; no one would push her that hard on this subject. But judging by Smith’s furious reaction when asked about her expenses on the Today Programme last week, she’ll just try and brazen this out.

P.S. Nick Robinson reports that Jacqui Smith expects to be cleared on the second home front. If she is found in breach, then I expect she’ll have to go from the Cabinet completely. But, even if she is in clear, the word is she’ll be moved from the Home Office. One rumour doing the rounds is that James Purnell could be moved into the post. There is also talk of a job swap between Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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