Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brownites Claim First Scalp as Kelly Quits

Brown's iron grip on the cabinet and government tightened today as die-hard Blairite, Ruth Kelly, announced she was to quit the cabinet and stole the thunder of his conference speech. 

Kelly's announcement could not have come at a worst time for Brown as it makes his conference speech very much yesterday's news.

As Brown tries to head off a leadership challenge and assert his authority over a divided government, Blair's Progress group of plotters look to have been out manoeuvred for the time being.

The transport secretary used the code of stepping down "for family reasons" when in reality she joins a number of ministers who are fed up and know the game is up. The only question remaining is did she jump or was she pushed?

Others may follow. Chief whip, Geoff Hoon, is another who could face the chop and sent packing to Brussels to replace one of the New Labour architects and uber-plotter, Peter Mandleson.

However Miliband's clever high profile posturing has probably secured his future in the top echelons of a dying government.

Brown used his speech to the part faithful and unfaithful to give himself breathing space and to reaffirm his Blair credentials but in a Brown sort of way.

At the moment he's sucking up to his banking pals in the US, so that long-awaited cabinet reshuffle will have to wait until his return, perhaps timed to steal the thunder of the Conservative Party conference. 

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