Simon Carr:

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

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.

React Now

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

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...


Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?