So, one of the three great offices of state, whose previous incumbents have included Peel, Palmerston, Asquith and Churchill, is now in the hands of one Jacqui Smith.
It must be jolly hard for Gordon Brown. Ten years of skulking in the Treasury, surrounded by a small group of acolytes saying “Yes, Gordon”, and hiding whenever any problem with a human dimension comes up, must make it rather hard to know who to put into all these jobs suddenly in his gift. Suddenly there are problems which cannot be solved with a spreadsheet here, a stealth tax there, a little raid on pensions or a bit of orchestrated back-stabbing.
I doubt he knows much about the Home Office or the post of Home Secretary. You can picture him reciting the words to himself as he pored over a list of names, in the hope that inspiration will come. “Home”. “Office”. “Secretary”. Jacqui Smith must have seemed the obvious choice.
I am not saying that it is not a job for a woman. If I had wanted to shake up the Home Office (and who does not?) I would have put Hazel Blears in there, instead of giving her one of those fuzzy non-jobs – communities secretary or something. Blears would have gone in like a terrier down a hole, and all those hopeless pen-pushers who see the Home Office as a sort of rest home would have fled screaming through the opposite door. Driving away the present Home Office staff would be a policy achievement in its own right. Will Jacqui Smith do anything so useful?
Anatole Kaletsky said in the Times today that if Brown is to succeed, he must live in the real world of ordinary people. True – but he does not have to appoint them to senior positions in his Cabinet.