Would she be better for Brown inside or outside the tent?
There’s a piece in the Mail on Sunday today raising the possibility that the Prime Minister may be considering sacking Harriet Harman.
According to the paper, “…his anger boiled over at a private meeting in No10, shouting: â€˜Who the hell does that woman think she is?â€™ Sources say Mr Brown swore more than once during heated exchanges with aides on how to silence Labourâ€™s Deputy Leader. At one point, he is also said to have discussed the possibility of demoting her from Commons Leader. One MP said: â€˜Gordon is sick to the back teeth of Harman. He has always found her very difficult and he has had enough of her disloyalty. If she thinks she is untouchable, she had better think again.â€™
Some party insiders are believed to think that the PM is planning a limited Cabinet reshuffle after June’s Euro-elections, and the Mail quotes a former Minister as saying that Brown “…cannot realistically kick her out of the Cabinet. That would play into her hands, with more freedom to boost her support among party members. â€˜But he may find another way to clip her wings and demote her. Harriet has no eye for detail so he could burden her with a job which is completely detail-driven and let her sink.â€™ “
Naturally a spokesman for the PM has denied the loss of temper and said there is no intention of sacking her – but what are we to make of the report? Would it be better for Gordon to have Harriet, to use Lyndon Johnson’s phrase, “inside or outside the tent?” – and if outside the tent is just too dangerous, is she at real risk of being sidelined to a new role and swamped with detail or will Brown decide it would just be too much trouble? Brown may be taking Labour to a heavy defeat, but he still has the scope to shape the race for his successor, who just might, with an L-shaped recession, make it to No 10.
In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley interviews Mandelson, who says of Brown: “I like him. I respect him. But I’m not afraid of him…” and that “I would say I came back into the government to be embraced and loved by my party.”
Elsewhere in the Sundays…
Independent – new torture claims emerge
Sunday Times – pay freeze looms for private sector workers
Observer – Mandelson goes to war on Labour mail rebels
MoS – Derek Simpson used Â£399 a night Waldorf suite
Finally, it’s emerged that one of Corpus Christi’s winning University Challenge team was no longer a student, and this being a betting site, how do we assess Cheryl Cole’s chances of climbing Kilimanjaro? Is there a market on it? – maybe a portion of the betting profits could go to Comic Relief.