Simon Carr:

The Sketch: So why are all these women going? To speculate is human

Share
Related Topics

What's going on? Who knows? Who wants to know? Everything could turn out as everyone thinks or it could easily be the opposite. Cold blooded observers say we could just wait a week and we'd know, but waiting a week is not in our nature. Febrile speculation on the flimsiest information – that's our nature.

So why were all these women announcing their departures? Pat Hewitt. Beverley Hughes. Tom Watson. Not Watson, I stand corrected. Jacqui Smith. Yes, the Home Secretary yesterday re-announced her pre-announced announcement before the Prime Minister could de-announce her. Hazel Blears has been denounced tout court. "Totally unacceptable," the Prime Minister has said of her.

So, how unacceptable is "totally"? In vulgar cabinet terms, is Hazel in or out? She is the Secretary of State for Communities (it's why we have such strong communities, like Westminster); yesterday it was her question time. But she didn't answer any questions. That is, she didn't even try. She let Margaret Beckett do all that while she sat on her bench looking slowly left and right, like an ingenious automaton.

Did that mean she was out and Margaret was in? Mrs Beckett is a ministerial autocrat – she wouldn't let Geoff Hoon speak on Europe when he was her European minister. "Why are you doing this Margaret?" he asked her piteously as she allocated questions to anyone but him. "Because I can, Geoff," she replied. Was she doing the same to Hazel now?

But then there was talk of "the list" that's going around and Hazel's name was on it, yes, on it. But was it a good list or a bad list? And if it was a good list, why was she so persistently, so ostentatiously not taking questions?

Down in the Chamber they were moving on to "regional spatial strategies" but no one was listening. Mary Creagh was showing off the contents of her BlackBerry to her neighbour. In the gallery we were gossiping about – I'll write that again – we were evaluating the strategic implications of reshuffle options. No one was trying to pretend to be engaged in the questioning.

Jacqui's definitely on the way out but it wasn't clear who'd said that she was. "Sources." Did that mean Jacqui Smith herself? Or No 10? Was she on the same list as Hazel? But what was it a list of? Problems solved? Jacqui looked wonderfully cheerful presenting her Borders Bill. She laughed at Desmond Swayne, for instance and she'd never tried to do that before.

Darling to Home, Miliband to the Treasury, Mandelson to the FO, and Balls to... the lot of them. No, that can't be it, it's everyone's last chance. So, Balls to the Treasury, Miliband to Home, and Darling to the Geoffrey Howe position two sword lengths on the back bench.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine