Jacqui Smith – again!

(Jacqui Smith showing the size of her Parliamentary majority)

I just had to laugh at this story in the Times.

Yes, it’s our hapless Home Secretary again…

I know one thing, I’d hate to be in any position of responsibility in any government department if the backbiting and sniping that goes on at the Home Office is anything to go by – and why wouldn’t it be?

People who work closely with Smith are now openly casting doubt on her track record and her chances of surviving an expected summer cabinet reshuffle.

A close aide denied that Smith had expressed concerns about losing her cabinet job or that she was backtracking on key policies. “As far as she’s concerned, the prime minister decides her future, not whispers from the Tories. She’s pretty robust. Anything like this just makes her more determined to get on with her job.”

“She’s not very good,” said the insider. “She doesn’t absorb briefs very well. She’s not regarded as a brilliant minister. Of course she’s very nice and she’s popular.

“The gossip is that, if there is a major reshuffle, then she might end up in the department of left-handed affairs. She’s a lightweight.”

Another senior official who reports to Smith said: “She has certainly been concerned about this. She picks up the same gossip as everyone else.”

She’s dispensible, too.

She has the lowest majority in the Commons of any government minister so she may not even be an MP after the next election so it matters little whether she goes sooner rather than later.

Cameron’s part in all this has been viewed by many as rather limpwristed and lacking in attack, but I think he’s boxed clever suggesting to Ms Smith’s neighbours to go to the national press if they think this matter could be of public interest. That way he’s cleared himself of any charges of gaining cheap political points or harrassing a member of the government.

Also notable is how many reporters of this story are using the word ‘sleaze’ in straplines and peppered about willy-nilly in various articles and comments columns.

It’s actually quite remarkable how the word ‘sleaze’ has been used so widely and so often and it’s almost as if judgement has been passed already and it’s simply now a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

Will she go?

I think so.

Had this happened a few years or even one year ago she might have survived it, but the past 6 months has seen a change in public mood since the uncertainties of the housing market, unemployment and the general economic gloom have shaken many out of an apathetic tolerance.

No-one expects government ministers or, indeed, MPs to be perfect, but there is an increasing expectation that they have to be seen to be earning their salaries and submitting fair and justifiable expenses.

It’s not really considered a defence any more to say that you’re following the rules as Ms Smith has stated:

“I followed the advice I was given and I have followed the rules.”

All well and good, but if your integrity is still in question after you’ve followed the rules but emerged as less than 100% honest, is that going to ensure your future credibility?

Shit sticks.

Meanwhile, other interested parties are joining the fray.

…former MP Martin Bell has written to Mr Lyon (neatly labelled Parliamnet’s sleaze watchdog in this BBC story) to demand a formal probe.

In his letter to the parliamentary standards commissioner, Mr Bell claims there is clear evidence that the rules have been broken.

The former Tatton MP, who defeated disgraced Conservative former minister Neil Hamilton in 1997 on an anti-sleaze ticket, says: “It is my understanding that the commissioner is required to investigate any complaint where there is any evidence that a rule has been broken.

“Clear prima facie evidence exists in this case – indeed it is growing stronger by the day.”

And Martin Bell knows a thing or two about sleaze having fought the Hamiltons in a General Election…

To sum up – come the next election I think that Ms Smith and Mr Timney will be joining the ranks of the unemployed and few people will be too upset if that happens.

Unlike Mandy and Blunkett I don’t think she’ll get a second chance.

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3 Responses

  1. To be honest, JS brings this sort of thing upon herself. She gives the police whatever they ask for, irrespective of what that may mean to our liberty or right to privacy. The she maximises her expense claims in the certain knowledge that whilst it may be inside the rules, it is clearly against the ‘spirit’. To any normal person, it is fairly clear what your principle home is and MP’s must not be allowed to choose.

    If you want to be a cabinet minister, you must ensure that everything you do and say is beyond reproach.

  2. Heh…sometimes she gives the police laws
    to enforce that even they don’t want.
    http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=1118

  3. […] already amply shown herself to be utterly cack-handed, and Parliament seems to be going all-out right now to prove itself as venal and money-grabbing as […]

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