James Purnell Quits

He has done a Geoffrey Howe. Only in these days of 24 hour media, he did not wait until he could get his chance at The Commons.

How long before an election?

From The Times

Gordon Brown was dealt a devastating blow tonight as James Purnell quit the Cabinet and told him to stand down to save the Labour Party.

The Work and Pensions Secretary’s sensational decision, given to the Prime Minister shortly before polling ended in the European and local elections, left an already damaged Mr Brown in grave peril. He told Mr Brown to stand aside and give Labour a “fighting chance of winning”.

The departure of such a talented minister in a crucial reforming role raised immediate questions over whether other ministers would follow, and whether Mr Brown had the authority to complete his Cabinet reshuffle.

He was a troughing hoon anyway and will probably lose his seat to the Lib Dems.

His Letter

Dear Gordon

We both love the Labour Party. I have worked for it for twenty years and you for far longer. We know we owe it everything and it owes us nothing.

I owe it to our Party to say what I believe no matter how hard that may be. I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more not less likely.

That would be disastrous for our country. This moment calls for stronger regulation, an active state, better public services, an open democracy. It calls for a government that measures itself by how it treats the poorest in society. Those are our values, not David Cameron’s.

We therefore owe it to our country to give it a real choice. We need to show that we are prepared to fight to be a credible government and have the courage to offer an alternative future.

I am therefore calling on you to stand aside to give our party a fighting chance of winning.

The party was here long before us, and we want it to be here long after we have gone. We must do the right thing by it.

I am not seeking the leadership, nor acting with anyone else. My actions are my own considered view, nothing more. If the consensus is that you should continue, then I will support the government loyally from the backbenches. But I do believe that this question now needs to be put.

Thank you for giving me the privilege of serving,


James Purnell

As pointed out in the comments, with the announcement of the providers for the “Flexible New Deal” coming is there a new job in the offing and was this more about ensuring that his nest was protected from any future Government?

Feathered nest or political valour? We shall see.

  1. Dan
    June 4, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    He only quit because the Flexible New Deal providers are meant to be officially announced after the election results.

    • thebigotbasher
      June 4, 2009 at 11:44 pm

      I have friends in his constituency – he may be regretting the JC+ restrictions soon.

      • Dan
        June 5, 2009 at 11:23 am

        I think you will be totally right – he has made some big mistakes… and he has made the right decision to stand down.

        • thebigotbasher
          June 5, 2009 at 2:59 pm

          Congratulations on your YMCA work by the way, I have worked in Housing Benefit and I understand how the combination of “Not for Profit” organisations extreme high rents and charges under “supporting people”, combined with the inequities of the Housing Benefit scheme itself militates against people actually being able to find a job.

          The scheme is a nightmare and its “simplifications”, such as restrictions on backdated benefit have made the position far far worse.

  2. Dan
    June 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Thank you. I think YMCA Training’s charity status could be in default. You are absolutely right: lets hope something can be done sooner rather than later to reverse this unfair system.

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