14 November 2006

Peter Peacock resigns

The headline is pretty much self-explanatory: Peter Peacock has resigned as Education Minister, following symptoms comparable to those of a mild stroke. It seems that his decision is based not only on current health problems, but also on fears that his job will only make them worse as time goes on.

Talk is of course moving on to his replacement, and there is speculation that this might be an opportunity for a wider reshuffle which would involve clearing out the deadwood. Regular readers of this blog will understand that by deadwood, I mean a certain Communities Minister. Mark reckons that the Deputy Health Minister Lewis MacDonald will get the job. As to the wider reshuffle: I don't think that's going to happen, as 1) McConnell has had ample time and opportunity to dump Chisholm and has not done so; 2) firing Chisholm on the back of Peacock's health problems would be somewhat craven, even for the First Minister; and 3) McConnell would then have to find two replacements rather than one.

Regarding the Lewis MacDonald speculation, Mark writes:

MacDonald is currently MSP for Aberdeen Central which is an SNP target seat - if confirmed it would suggest Labour are worried as it would be seen as a move to boost his profile and take him away from a controversial portfolio where he has been responsible for trying to manage the dental crisis in Scotland.
This is perfectly possible, but I reckon that McConnell might not want to risk the embarrassment of losing a Minister in a key portfolio at the election - to lose Iain Gray in 2003 was bad luck, but to lose an Education Minister in 2007 would be careless. The way I see it, the FM has two options. Firstly, he could go for the uncontroversial, safe pair of hands approach. This would put Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson in prime position for the job, and then perhaps put MacDonald in there (a Ministerial portfolio to boost his profile, but not such a major one as to cause embarrassment if he loses his seat). Secondly, he could use this time to put a Natbasher General in a key position. In which case, step forward, Allan Wilson.

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