Friday, July 27, 2007

Gone by lunchtime

David Benson-Pope has resigned from Cabinet just in time for the midday news. Good. What he did - implicitly telling a Chief Executive to fire a public servant on political grounds - was a gross violation of the CEO's independence in employment matters, and a clear threat to the political neutrality of the public service. Such a person simply can not be allowed to hold a Ministerial warrant.

The question now is who will replace him, both in the short- and long-term. Environment is small enough to be easily passed on to another Minister, but Social Development is a massive responsibility and needs both a safe pair of hands and someone who can devote their full attention to it. Unfortunately, Labour's safe pairs of hands are all tied up devoting their full attention (with varying degrees of success) to other portfolios, so this is going to require an actual reshuffle and juggling of portfolios to fix.

As for Benson-Pope, I don't think this is a sin he can come back from, and his Ministerial ambitions are effectively at an end. It will be interesting to see whether he decides not to run again at the next election, and so free up space for more new blood, or whether he is content to spend the rest of his political life as a backbencher.