Martin Bright

Moving from Crisis to Catastrophe

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Perhaps James Purnell was at Hamlet last night as well. There is a kind of tragic inevitability to all this now. Until tonight there was at least the appearance of a government. Now even that thin veil has been removed. There is nothing left with which to govern.

Think of the already vacant Cabinet posts: Home Secretary, Communities and Local Government and Work and Pensions. Then imagine who, with any talent,  you would put in those posts. It's hopeless. The idea that Gordon Brown will simply fill posts with newly-elected peers is part laughable, part terrifying.

I went on Sky News tonight and said James Purnell's letter was an act of unusual honesty. Resignation letters never usually mean what they say. If that's what Purnell thought -- that the Labour Party has less of a chance of winning the next election with Brown as Prime Minister -- then it is right that he should resign. And it is right that he should give his real reasons for going. We need some transparency right now.

My politics are a long way from James Purnell's. But I have always found him a straight-dealing and effective politician. At Work and Pensions he was responsible for pushing through the delivery of the government's plans for fighting the recession. He will be a huge loss.

However, the way things are going, he could be back in government under a new leader by the end of next week.