And so the local elections were as bad for Labour as was expected. Beaten into third place on share of vote by the Lib Dems and losing councils that would previously have been unthinkable, like Camden. Worse yet, the performance of the BNP in Barking is hugely worrying.
So, in the face of this distinctly unsettling scenario, what is our esteemed Prime Minister doing? He’s having a reshuffle. Yippee. The rumours are that Prescott will have some of his responsibilities stripped away and that Clarke is clinging on by his fingernails. Tell us something we didn’t already know or could have guessed. The big problem for Bliar is that his options for shuffling people around departments is fairly limited and that it’s hardly likely to energise a party that’s holed under the waterline now.
I’ve never understood the principle of cabinet government really: a Prime Minister hands out jobs to people who shouldn’t be let within a mile of most departments. Let’s be honest, looking at his background, you’d hardly think Charles Clarke should have been Home Secretary, would you? But there he is, like so many others, parachuted into a department attempting to steer policy in an area with which, quite frankly, he is out of his depth. It almost (and I said almost) makes you hanker for ol’ Blindy Blunkers. It’s not just Charles Clarke though, and it’s not even personal; he’s clearly a good thinker and able in some respects but why is he doing a job he has no background or qualification for?
Perhaps this is just an example of a general problem Britain has: we think that a manager can manage anything. Unfortunately, that simply isn’t true and it looks as if we as a nation are paying the price for this error in reasoning. I imagine that the health and education systems may be in a different state if we actually tried to have people managing them with front-line experience and knowledge. But maybe I’m wrong.