08 May 2006

The Time Out Chair of British Politics

He's done it again, folks. Tony Blair is punishing people. This time, it's Jack Straw that gets the "chair."

You see, Tony Blair has a curious way of dispensing with unruly Cabinet secretaries, and it forms a neat little pattern. Sure, various people have been shuffled around over the years, most recently last week. But there's one demotion in particular that means you are no longer in favour.

Congratulations, you've just been named Leader of the House of Commons. You will lose all substantive responsibilities, and simply be a paper-pusher/scheduler.

Let's look at previous demotions:

The late Robin Cook was the unruly foreign secretary (and Straw's predecessor), who began to chafe under Tony's cronyism with one George W. Bush. Thus, Cook became Leader of the House, where he could do little damage. Ultimately though, Cook resigned that position in opposition to the Iraq war, and gave a damn long speech about it too. Turns out people can ruffle your feathers even from politically weak positions.

Then there John Reid, now Defence Secretary, and Peter Hain, who was concurrently Secretary of State for Wales. They were really more warm bodies to fill the job, and Hain has since been made Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as well.

Then came Geoff Hoon, the bumbling idiot who served Secretary of State for Defence, yet who couldn't defend himself on the Commons floor. He became a liability, and was forced to push paper.

Now Jack Straw gets the chair (and Geoff Hoon got demoted again, probably just for kicks). Straw's problem (I guess) is that he was starting to steal the spotlight. He recently did a UK tour with Condi Rice where they apparently had great success, even though the country loathes the Iraq war that they both pushed. Word on the street is that Straw is too close with Gordon Brown (aka Heir Apparent), and thus got shoved away. Don't worry, he'll be back.

Honestly, I think that next up for Leader of the House is none other than TB himself.

No comments: