James Forsyth

What do you have to say to get sacked by Gordon Brown?

What do you have to say to get sacked by Gordon Brown?
Text settings

One of the more remarkable things about the row over the abolition of the 10p tax rate is the level of insubordination that the Prime Minister is letting Parliamentary Private Secretaries get away with. Just look at this string of quotes from The Sunday Times

"Derek Wyatt, a junior aide to Margaret Hodge, a culture minister, said: “I’ve had virulent e-mails from my constituents saying they feel betrayed and deserted. They say they will never vote for Labour again. I have thought about resigning, yes. The government has time yet, so it’s too early to say. But I’ve taken soundings from my local party and yes, many of us do feel this is a betrayal of our core beliefs.”


Wyatt, the MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, said: “That is serious. It’s not what this party is meant to be all about. I have no time for the idea [that] this can’t be fixed.”


Russell Brown, a junior aide to Des Browne, the defence secretary, said: “We’ve got to find a way to sort out this mess. We need to take this whole fiscal package, which was meant to be revenue neutral, and put it back together again. Questions will be asked as to how the government got it so badly wrong.” 

John Mann, an aide to Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister who has herself called for a rethink, said: “I’ll be making my case very strongly and forcefully to the chancellor at the next budget. A good budget should reward work. Some people on low incomes have lost out this time and I hope we can put that right at the next budget. The 10p tax rate is not the only issue, there are also taxable allowances and finances that need to be looked at as part of the package.The fact that they can get away with these kind of comments is a sure sign of both how unpopular the scrapping of the 10p band is within the Labour party and Brown’s diminished authority. With this as precedent, PPSs will feel much less scared about sounding off about other unpopular government policies in future; guaranteeing that the press will have a ready supply of ‘Labour split’ stories.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

Topics in this articlePolitics