Monday, May 07, 2007

Reid begs the questions

Last September, in a rousing speech to Labour's conference that had him spoken of as a potential Prime Minister, John Reid said he intended to "play his full part" in helping Labour renew itself in government following Tony Blair's departure. It was a speech that was open to several different interpretations at the time and seems even more so now that Reid has revealed that the only part he will in fact play will be as a backbench MP.

So what's going on? As ever with Reid, there are quite a few theories, and they can be summarised thus.

1. He is genuine. He is coming up to 60, wants to take a break from government, and wants Gordon Brown to have the freedom to bring in his own people as he said yesterday.

Probability rating: 2/10. Reid is a politician to his fingertips, and it just doesn't square with what he said last autumn.

2. With the forthcoming break-up of the Home Office, Reid's role is about to diminish and Gordon was unable to offer him anything bigger by way of compensation. There is some speculation that he might have asked for a combined Defence and Homeland Security brief

Probability rating: 6/10. Gordon would have been happy to keep Reid in Cabinet in one of the two Home Office briefs, but not in a beefed-up role.

3. He has been forced out by some impending tabloid scandal. This is the theory currently running on Iain Dale.

Probability rating: 4/10. Reid has a fairly colourful past but it's unclear to me whny him resigning would make a tabloid newspaper any less likely to print something.

4. He is staging a canny tactical retreat to distance himself from what he sees as the impending disaster of the Brown premiership so that he can live to fight another day after the next election.

Probability rating: 7/10. There is no love lost between Reid and Brown and his decision not to serve could be likened to Iain Macleod's under Douglas-Home in 1963.

My conclusion, then, is that this is an act of deep disloyalty on the part of Reid which will weaken Brown and weaken Labour in the run-up to the next election.

If he ever does attempt a comeback, the Labour Party should remember that.

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Justin said...

Is he maybe doing a Milburn and leaving to spend more time with a private equity company?

Richard Bailey said...

Having sprung briefly back to life, I have made comment on my blog. I am with you on Option 4. Build bunker in own constituency. Survive Brown's tyranny. Decapitate at earliest opportunity. Rescue Party.
Trouble for Reid is that Miliband will beat him to it.
If, as I suspect, he knows that, then his principled stand is to be admired.

Dirk Nachbar said...

If you add up the probabilities, you get more than one. Are those events not exlcusive?

James Higham said...

Not too old for N4?

skipper said...

I'd like to think it was 3 but 2 looks like most likely to me.

Anonymous said...

i originally thought number 4 and then questioned this when Mr Dale posted his story, though I feel he is probably just trying to wind us all up. Genuinly I think John Reid feels his reached his peak in the party, won't now become leader at all and will be a useful supporter of the Government on the backbenches.

VFTN said...

There is a lot of gossip that something in his personal life is behind this decision but no-one seems to be able to offer any hard evidence in the blogosphere or print.

Tom said...

I'd have him down as a fixer for the Blears campaign myself, at the behest of their mutual dark master.