That Cabinet reshuffle

The media consensus is that Blair’s last-ditch reshuffle of his Cabinet was “brutal”, and so indeed it was. Two days ago, for example, he refused to accept Charles Clarke’s offer to resign; today he sacked him. But for me the really interesting aspect of the reshuffle is the way it has brought to the fore young Blair loyalists like David Miliband and Alan Johnson. Regular readers will remember that some time ago I surmised that Blair doesn’t want Gordon Brown to succeed him and is therefore trying to ensure that there is a credible younger candidate in place to challenge the Chancellor when the time eventually comes for him (Blair) to stand down.

One way of reading today’s reshuffle is that it has been designed with that objective in mind. And to be fair to Blair (though I have no desire to be), he might be motivated by something other than spite. He may want Labour to continue in power after he’s gone, and suspects that only a younger man stands a chance of defeating the new bicycling Tory leader.

Later: Then there’s the interesting question of why Jack Straw was demoted? I was puzzled by this — he seemed to be doing ok, relatively speaking. But Ewen MacAskill has has sussed it: Straw said a military strike against Iran was inconceivable. Blair thinks differently. So Straw had to go. Ye Gods!