A week is a long time in politics

jimtoggleJim O’Neill says every political career ends in failure, and speculates that some of Theresa May’s cabinet appointments suggest several opportunities for failure already.


With the unexpected, at least to him, departure of David Cameron from No 10, I thought I would revert to my first real job, as a history teacher, to look at what had happened to Prime Ministers since the end of the War. There is a maxim in politics: all careers end in failure. This list looks like it broadly confirms it:

  • Clement Attlee 1945–51.  6 years in No 10. Could not sustain a narrow majority after party splits.
  • Winston Churchill 1951–55. 4 years. Old age and illness.
  • Anthony Eden 1955–57. 2 years. Suez.
  • Harold Macmillan 1957–63. 6 years. Illness.
  • Alec Douglas-Home 1963–64. 1 year. Incompetence.
  • Harold Wilson 1964–70 and 1974–76. 8 years. Illness.
  • Ted Heath 1970–74. 4 years. Miners’ strike.
  • Jim Callaghan 1976–79. 3 years. Winter of Discontent.
  • Margaret Thatcher 1979–90. 11 years. Poll Tax.
  • John Major 1990–97. 7 years. Tory disputes over Europe.
  • Tony Blair 1997–2007. 10 years. Iraq.
  • Gordon Brown 2007–10. 3 years. Recession and banking collapse.
  • David Cameron 2010–16. 6 years. Brexit.
  • Theresa May 2016–?

So now she has set up her new Cabinet. She had better get it right. On average she has only 6 years in Downing Street. Harold Wilson said “a week is a long time in politics”. So here we go.

Mrs May has shown as comfortable with a stiletto as she is wearing stiletto heels. Out go Osborne, Gove, Morgan, Whittingdale, Letwin, Crabb and Villiers. And in comes the Private Eye Cabinet. I am glad that I have a subscription. The next four years is going to be fun in its pages.

First to be brought on board was multi-millionaire Phillip Hammond who, with the exception of a short time as shadow Chief Secretary over a decade ago, has no experience of the Treasury. So, is this going to be goodbye austerity, hello austerity? We are going to have to wait to see. He says he will make his policy clear at the Autumn Statement. That’s what I like – decisiveness.

And then we have Boris as Foreign Secretary. She is surely having a laugh. Boris has already insulted most of the important foreigners that he will have to work with, including Hillary Clinton and most of the leaders of the European Community. Mind you, Boriswatch should be fun!

Then we have Amber Rudd as Home Secretary. After the insults she heaped on Boris during the Brexit debates, will they even be able to speak to each other at cabinet? David Davies, serial resigner, in the new job of Brexit Secretary. Totally unknown in Europe, he will first have to establish his credentials. Just saying no won’t work, as Margaret Thatcher found.

And as for Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary, he made a mess of being Defence Secretary when he allowed his neocon friends access to the MOD. I can see the vultures gathering around! Other lowlights include Andrea Leadsom at Environment, a woman who does not believe in climate change and supports fracking, Priti Patel at International Development, putting a vampire in charge of the blood bank, and finally leaving Hunt at Health, probably because she could not get anyone else to take it.

All the rest are deckchair shifting, and looking after your pals. So Theresa May has wielded a scythe and brought in the Punch and Judy show. Hang on to the sides folks, the next four years will be a wild ride.

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15 thoughts on “A week is a long time in politics

  1. And yet people like you continue to insist Scotland is better served under this level of lack of leadership than any Labour within an Independent Scotland has the potential to develop or recruit. I don’t know what that says about you personally but it says a lot about your confidence and regard for your Labour colleagues in Scotland eh Jim? As well as your total indisputable utter contempt for Scots and their abilities in general.

    And still you claim to be an educated man? Really? If so then it can only mean you’re agenda driven and motivated by the corruption of self service.

  2. Ah history. But historians don’t base their evaluations on a “week”, even a long week.
    There are trends in politics which should worry Labour. The most important is the long decline in votes garnished by Labour and Tory Parties. The present lot got only 25% of the electorate ( 10% in Scotland) to vote for them, pretty poor but way more than Labour managed.
    Jim disparages the Tory Cabinet reshuffle as a bit of a joke—-quite right too. But compared to what’s happening in Labour it looks a tad more professional. The Tories have a new Leader, not much blood spilled, Labour are a shambles in comparison and can expect opposition as far ahead as can be seen.
    Time for Scotland to look to its own interests, now.

  3. OMG Jim, what’s happened?

    No mention of the SNP?

    If you keep on like this people might actually think that you oppose the Tories!

  4. Mike, there are a number of answers to your question.

    It depends what you mean by “is Scotland better served under this level of lack of leadership”.

    Obviously a Labour Gov would be best for ordinary people all over the UK, as history shows, but in a democracy you lose some. So we’ve got the Tories and, BTW, I get the impression many SNP politicians are ok with that.

    If your concern is the calibre of May’s Cabinet personnel, I agree – they look second-rate to me. But the SNP has been in power for 9 years and only 2 of them are worth mentioning: Swinney and Sturgeon. And they’re not top level either. That’s democracy too. If you only get 2nd-raters and 3rd-raters standing, the best you can do is get the 2nd-raters into your Cabinet.

    If you what you mean is: “would Scots be better off if Scotland deserted the rUK”?

    Obviously not. The economic forecasts before indyref predicted that and the economic facts and evidence after indyref proved it. Even Sturgeon acknowledges the truth of that, otherwise why the always imminent but always receding indyref2 and why the “summer relaunch”?

    Would Labour dominate an “independent Scotland”?

    Maybe, But we want what’s best for ordinary people, not constitutional change for its own sake or for the sake of the Labour party. So we campaign for the living breathing people of Scotland, not some maudlin nonsense about grievance and kilts.

    As for Jim’s “lack of confidence and regard for your Labour colleagues in Scotland and total indisputable utter contempt for Scots and their abilities in general and his claim to be an educated man and corrupt motivation”, that’s just baloney.

    My advice to you, if you want a reasonable discussion with reasonable people, is cut all that stuff out. It doesn’t do you or your cause any favours. Stick to the facts and we can have an exchange of ideas. Keep up the insults and you’ll get dismissed as just another moaner.

    1. “If you only get 2nd-raters and 3rd-raters standing, the best you can do is get the 2nd-raters into your Cabinet.” Sound like Labour Party Scottish branch

    2. “Obviously…Labour Gov….best…ordinary people all over the UK, as history shows”—-really? I don’t think that.
      I worked in the last two deep mines in East Ayrshire, and like many, waited for a Labour government to deliver—new infrastructure and industrial investment—new jobs, new hope for the employment of our kids. We got nothing but infrastructure which cost vastly over the odds, and is now falling to bits.
      Oh, wait—we also got open cast mining, by a company which had Labours Brian Wilson as a Director. That Company left huge dereliction on sites it was supposed to have left a financial Bond for re instituting the land. It hadn’t done so. It also didn’t pay enough into the employee’s pension fund, so pensions are now much reduced.
      Labour did look after the interests of Non Doms—financiers, bankers, the City of London—anyone with money. Casino Capitalism and voodoo investment instrament’s—served to induce a financial crash which wiped out many SMALL businesses and the future earnings and savings of many ordinary workers.
      The Bankers and Financiers sailed on however, blissfully indifferent to the fate of others.
      Brown and Darling are reputed to be ensconced in their plush boardrooms, these days. Is that true? Mandleson, like Blair, is vastly rich, by what means we wont ever know.

      1. [“Obviously…Labour Gov….best…ordinary people all over the UK, as history shows”—-really? I don’t think that.] Yes, I had to snort at that sentence as well. We all have targets painted on our chests and backs thanks to Labour, but Blair still claims we are safer because of his war.

  5. A week is indeed a long time in politics and its goodbye Angela Eagle do enjoy your retirement from politics.

  6. “Obviously a Labour Gov would be best for ordinary people all over the UK, as history shows.”

    I know you don’t actually mean that because you don’t even like your own leadership never mind the kind of leadership that’s commits high treason lies to the nation and takes us to war illegally.

    And of course your “History” is subjective. For example your earlier history was all about raising the expectations of the majority the blue collar working stiffs and the hard pressed families. Your recent history is one of betrayal in every sense and description of the term. You are now the PLP of Tory establishment with a ground root level of support which still believes in social justice and is frustrated by not being represented by their Tory PLP.

    “Obviously not. The economic forecasts before indyref predicted that and the economic facts and evidence after indyref proved it. ”

    See this only indicates that you’re either the worst kind of stupid compulsive bare faced liar or completely and utterly suffering from terminal self delusion and deceit.

    Whats been proven beyond all sane argument is that every project fear calamity that was projected to happen to an Indy Scotland has happened as a direct result of remaining with the union. Every single one without exception. The economy is a joke the UK has lost its final triple A rating. The global forecasts show that the UK will suffer the most in the developed world. The pound is now the international toilet paper. 6 trillion in debt.

    Both the Blue Tories and the Red Tories consistently tell us there is no spare money for welfare benefits or the NHS yet they are happy to sign a blank check on the obscenity and insanity of worthless WMD systems.

    Sorry Alex but I don’t believe you even attempted to try to be reasonable That post of yours contained neither reason logic reality honesty or even sanity.

  7. “the blue collar working stiffs”

    Mike, why are you such a snob?

    1. Only a snob would think a snob would use an expression like that. That there is a description of myself bet it doesn’t apply to you though eh?

      1. Andy is a capitalised “Knob”.
        Bigger, shinier, and more obviously a knob.

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