Fraser Nelson

Smith’s departure emphasises Brown’s helplessness

Smith's departure emphasises Brown's helplessness
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I suspect Jacqui Smith has done a Ruth Kelly - she knew she was going, so why wait to be knifed? Why not go at a time of her choosing, and take control? She doesn't need to make an announcement. She just needed to let it be known that she will resign, and sooner or later it would reach someone like Joey Jones from Sky News, who broke the story.  

This gives her a bit of dignity, and will frustrate Gordon Brown who would have liked to announce this himself. The reshuffle is one of the few weapons left in his arsenal - with Labour's poll rating now below room temperature, he is about to lead the party into what will doubtless be its worst-ever defeat. And he'll look more helpless now; given he can't control his own reshuffles in a timely way.

Home Secretary is perhaps the worst Office of State, a place to dump your worst enemy. So I suspect Brown will put there one of his potential rivals for the leadership: Alan Johnson, David Miliband or James Purnell. Johnson would refuse, whereas Miliband and Purnell would accept - I reckon - judging the experience would be good should they ever need to make a leadership bid (now, or post-election).

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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