Friday, May 05, 2006

snakes and ladders

As is always the case when a government takes a battering - whether deserved or otherwise - in local elections, the reality is that tons of really good, conscientious people find themselves immediately thrust out of office. I think one can for the most part be optimistic enough to assume that they will be replaced with equally generous and committed people. But it's awful to think of the more than 300 Labour councillors - none of whom should have been punished because of Blair's wars or Prescott's infidelity - waking up this morning to find their jobs turned over to other people.

Over at the big table, of course - where you will find plenty of people who actually are responsible for Labour's fall from grace - little changes. Faces are shunted around a table. Not many big promotions for the younger crowd, no imagination. Clarke goes, Prescott stays with diminished responsibilities. And most importantly, Jack Straw, who has clearly been dicing with political death for ages by repeatedly stating that a war on Iran was inconceivable, has been swatted by Blair and deposed as Foreign Secretary. Cleverly, he's been made leader of the house, which should stymie any chance of his emerging as an ethical voice against the prospect of another disasterous war.

Elsewhere Ruth Kelly, predictably, is demoted while Patricia Hewitt retains her post. Poor old Peter Hain, surely due a more senior role by now, is left in Northern Ireland. It's good to see a promotion for Douglas Alexander, good to see no major promotion for David Milliband, and bizarre to see bloody Hazel Blears being given party chairmanship.

And thoroughly, utterly depressing that Blair still sits at the head of the table. But not much we can do about that for a while, is there?

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