16 September 2008

The Turbulent Priest

Father David Cairns, the MP for Inverclyde, has quit as Minister of State at the Scotland Office, lamenting his inability to square his lack of confidence in the present administration with collective responsibility. It is likely that he will not be the last to leave.

With Des Browne moonlighting between the MoD and the Scotland Office, the majority of what little work took place at the latter landed on Cairns's desk. He was the fall guy for bad By-Election results ever since Dunfermline & West Fife. He's clearly decided that he can't take defending crappy performances anymore and has walked.

Now, he was, of course, closely aligned to Siobhain McDonagh, who was sacked for seeking a Leadership Contest on Friday, so the resignation could be viewed in that context. But the fact is this: Cairns is far higher up than McDonagh. He was, with Browne's dual role occupying him, the UK Government's voice in Scotland. And he's decided to stop speaking. Brown now has a vacancy to fill, and in Scottish terms an important one, just weeks before the Glenrothes By-Election. And it's overshadowed the unveiling of Iain Gray's Shadow Cabinet - and we're still waiting for the junior spokespeople there. Not that it matters: Gray is off the front pages for the next few days, through no fault of his own, and to his credit, his reaction to David Cairns was the best one he could make.

But the most devastating aspect is this: Cairns was the scapegoat for every bad result, and made ham-fisted attempts to defend the indefensible at every stage. He was in a key position but he was nothing special.

And he, of all people, has called Gordon Brown crap.


ASwaS said...

On the other hand, Brown gets the advantage of a fresh face in the run-up to the by-election. Sure it'll only mitigate things a bit, but I'm a benevolent sort.

Jeff said...

Depends on the fresh face I suppose. I always got the impression that Cairns did a lot more good than bad in the GE campaign.

That aside, do you think there was any spite behind Cairns announcement coming as it did 15mins before Gray announced his shadow team?

It's no secret that the now ex-Minister wanted Jamieson to win after all...