Saturday, June 6, 2009

On the Bloody Morning Afterwards

The local election results were every bit as bad for Labour as people expected.  Labour lost 273 of the seats it was defending, lost control of 4 local counsels, and came in third in vote share behind the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.  Interestingly, the Tories' share of the vote dropped from the last time these seats were contested and if these results hold through the general election then the Conservatives will have a smaller majority in Parliament then expected.  However, I imagine that many of those who voted for the right wing third parties will vote for the Tories in a general election.

The Prime Minister announced a reshuffle of his cabinet but it did not go like he wanted.  Allistar Darling remains as Chancellor and Alan Johnson moves over to become the Home Secretary.  Lord Mandelson who takes over an enlarged business portfolio.  Brown was unable to place his closest ally Ed Balls in as Chancellor and Balls remained as minister for Children, Schools, and Families.  Caroline Flint, the Minister for Europe, left the Cabinet yesterday and on her way out charged sexism and said female ministers are treated "like windrow dressing.  Six ministers left yesterday, and 4 have left during the previous week.  The new Labour cabinet will have 4 women and 5 members of the House of Lords; an unusually low number of women and an unusually high number of peers for a Labour government.

The reshuffle appears to have temporarily strengthened Brown.  However, by not being able to place Balls in as Chancellor, the Prime Minister demonstrated that he has the ability to hold power but not exercise it.  Brown also quieted down some of the Cabinet threats against him by putting potential successor Alan Johnson in as Home Secretary.  Most of Brown's opponents are now disaffected former ministers and rebel backbenchers.  It does not appear that they have enough power to force Brown to leave immediately.

All of that could change on Sunday when the results from the European Parliamentary election are announced.

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