Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mixed Messages from Labour

So Gordon can still surprise us. Pulling off Mandelson's return to Government was quite spectacular. Everyone expected Mandelson to be put out to grass, not brought back into the Cabinet. Now, rather than the media pulling him apart, they will be constantly looking for and stirring up conflict between him and his old enemy Mandelson. It will be like Blair and Brown all over again.

However the audacity of this move was not matched by the decision to keep poor old Jack McConnell in this country. Everyone has been waiting for his posting to Malawi for ages and I'm sure he and Bridget must have got around to choosing the curtains for the High Commissioner's residence in Lilongwe. It would have been quite the thing to split the SNP's resources and present them with a real conflict between Glenrothes and getting a majority in the Parliament in Motherwell and Wishaw.

Nor did they dare risk a by-election in Ashfield where the Liberal Democrats have gone from strength to strength in recent years, so Geoff Hoon gets to deal with the British trains rather than take the Eurostar to Mandelson's old job.

It looks again like they've encouraged the press to think something and then bottled it at the last minute.

So the bold new reshuffle has not been matched by bold strategic thinking. It's too early to say whether bringing Mandelson back will be a net gain for them or not - I suspect not. Whatever happens, we can guarantee it won't be boring in the Labour Party.

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