Sunday, November 06, 2005

The past week

Things have been hectic and so I've missed several big events this week. In no particular order:

David Blunkett has resigned. Again. One has to wonder what on earth made Tony Blair reappoint him in the first place. Presumably when Peter Mandelson resigns next time Blunkett will be appointed as a European Commissioner. It would be a very appropriate appointment. One is repeatedly rocked by scandals and deeply unpopular with the British people and the other is a now resigned minister.

What's especially telling is the appointment of John Hutton as his replacement. This previously invisible man has been chosen, rather than one of the supposed rising stars of the Labour Party (or Mr Invisible himself, Alistair Darling). Why David Miliband was not offered the job, or if he was why he did not accept it, is a sign of weakness. Work and Pensions is a tough job and a minister who could get on top of it would show their abilities, enhance the strength of the government and potentially improve their chances of being an alternative to Gordon Brown. Instead Blair shows the government is full of weakling ministers and appoints a non-entity.

Question Time on Thursday saw David Cameron go head to head with David Davis in what I hope is the prelude to a head to head debate between the two main party leaders at the next general election. Although neither delivered a clear knock-out blow I think Davis came out slightly stronger than Cameron, but the real losers were the Davis supporters in the audience with their planted questions and jibes. The Davis campaign team must be desperate if it's resorting to such tactics.

Closer to home, students' union across the University of London have been reeling from the resignation of University of London Union President Stewart Halforty. Although Stewart's and my politics do not coincide, I've always got on with him and am very sorry to see that he feels forced out by forces of inertia and opposition. Whoever is elected to succeed him will need to have a firm mandate to radically reform the organisation and make it fully accountable to the students of the University of London. Otherwise successive officers will be unable to achieve anything due to forces working against them.

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