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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Martha Kearney's week
By Martha Kearney
Presenter, BBC Radio 4's The World at One

There's a useful political expression called "Take out the Trash" which a colleague reminded me of this week.

John Reid
John Reid has already escaped the axe

It means clearing the decks of difficult announcements and policies, often done on those notorious "good days to bury bad news".

The producer was wondering if we'd been seeing a bit of that lately in this strange limbo period before Gordon Brown takes over on 27 June.

There was the "HIP replacement" humiliating climbdown on Home Information Packs by Ruth Kelly and the controversial White Paper on nuclear power.

You could even say that David Miliband was literally taking out the trash with his strategy document on waste management out this Thursday.

Even if political waste management is the strategy before Labour gets its new leader, it is clear that the government is even less in control of events than usual.

'Blue sky'

The lengthy transition is creating the appearance of a power vacuum.

If he is as brutal as the speculation suggests, then Gordon Brown will be left with a serious problem of gender balance

The Home Secretary is usually the most vulnerable to being the victim of events.

One Permanent Secretary used to usher new ministers into their beautiful penthouse office: "what do you see out of the window Home Secretary?"

"Blue sky"

"Well any morning now a big bolt from the blue could come hurtling through that window."

Through John Reid's window this week came hurtling the news that three men on control orders had absconded - an issue we examined on Thursday morning.

"Terror Suspects on the Loose" is not a headline any minister would relish but John Reid has one crumb of comfort.


He does not need to fear the "big clunking fist" of Gordon Brown punching him onto the backbenches as he is already planning to leave the Home Office when Tony Blair goes.

For other ministers in difficulties the sense of being on probation for their jobs must be acute.

The list of candidates in line for a reshuffle or the sack grows longer every day.

Many of the "dead men walking" happen to be women - Tessa Jowell, Patricia Hewitt , Hilary Armstrong, Ruth Kelly and maybe Margaret Beckett.

If he is as brutal as the speculation suggests, then Gordon Brown will be left with a serious problem of gender balance because there are not that many younger female ministers pushing at the cabinet door.

Mr Brown has certainly had plenty of time to decide on his new team.

All of Westminster is playing the game: who will be recycled under Gordon and who will be taken out with trash.

Control orders flawed, says Reid
24 May 07 |  UK Politics
Home info packs delayed to August
22 May 07 |  UK Politics
Bin charges 'to boost recycling'
24 May 07 |  UK Politics


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