Ruth Kelly

THAT will teach me not to listen to the Today programme in the morning.

I arrived in the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and joined Ben Brogan of the Daily Mail at his table. His first words were: “This is bad news about Ruth.”

Immediately I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. “What do you mean?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to hear the answer. I was right – I didn’t.

I returned, unfed, to my room to make some calls. By the end of them I really wasn’t any the wiser. But the shocking, utterly unexpected truth was plain: Ruth Kelly will stand down as Secretary of State for Transport at the next reshuffle – probably within a fortnight. If nothing else, her announcement will ensure that rumours of an impending reshuffle will now be proved correct.

Ruth was a great boss. She was funny and clever and always encouraging to her ministerial team. When I got into a spot of bother over this blog back in June, her first response was to ask if I was coping okay (she has since confessed to being an avid reader of this blog, so I can add good taste to her list of attributes).

She was also incredibly highly thought of by the transport industry; she gained its respect by mastering her brief and getting to know the issues facing the industry at a dazzling pace. As the country’s first female transport secretary since Barbara Castle, she brought something of that old warhorse’s political judgment and passion to her role.

Even before she became my boss at the department, I liked her. When I first started blogging, with “And another thing 1.0”, I wrote a piece defending her right to choose a private school for one of her children. That decision made her vulnerable to criticism, of course, but I would rather trust the judgment of someone who puts their commitment to their family ahead of political dogma than someone who doesn’t.

Every parent of young children will understand and respect the decision Ruth has made. There will, undoubtedly, be much frenzied speculation about her true motives. On this occasion the media would do well to avoid reading between the lines and to accept that on this occasion, a successful politician has taken a principled and courageous decision to put her family, and her children, first.

I really will miss her as a boss.

And now I’m heading home to Glasgow. Thank you and good day.


Filed under Department for Transport, Labour, Parliament

18 responses to “Ruth Kelly

  1. Johnny Norfolk

    Trouble is Tom you forgot she is part of ‘The Lancashire Mafia’ Honest people come from there.

  2. Blackacre

    The question, then, is why she never got those qualities you mention across to the public.

  3. Quentinthecrisp

    Why are ‘they’ keeping you out of the loop. Tom.

    Wouldn’t a good boss have the courtesy to tell her closest colleagues she would be stepping down.

    The by-election IS on 6th November , yet no-one appears to have told you.

  4. I quote

    ‘but I would rather trust the judgment of someone who puts their commitment to their family ahead of political dogma than someone who doesn’t’.

    So where does all the guff about ‘fairness’ fit into this argument. As in parents who can’t afford private schools?

    As ever, a most illuminating blog Tom.

    AND she went out on a high with electrification!

  5. richard

    I think the timing is distinctly suspect.

    Did she not want to spend more time with her children last week? Did she feel that she really couldn’t wait three or four more days until after the shine had gone off of her glorious leader’s speech?


    Also, the idea that Gordon is planning a major cabinet reshuffle during the Conservative party conference is frankly stupid. Dave and his crew will spend the whole time making reshuffle jokes and Ministers will get wall-to-wall questions about their job prospects instead of having the chance to do down the Conservatives.

  6. Andrew F

    Hm, well, I suppose the natural successor would be Rosie Winterton. Boring Brown isn’t likely to promote a junior Undersecretary into the cabinet. Plus, there’s a boat-load of big names competing for limited spaces already – Flint, Murphy, etc.

    But if it is Winterton, you’ve got to be a contender for for minister of state. You’re more interesting than the other Transport chap, and you’re young enough to climb the ministerial ladders. I guess it all depends whether you’re considered more trouble than you’re worth. Either way, I don’t think you’ll be staying where you are: I reckon you’ll be either minister of state for Transport or a backbencher.

  7. John

    That McNutty chap or Liam Byrne are tipped to replace Ruth Kelly.

  8. Robert

    We have known for a long time she was not happy with some of Gordon’s themes. But she also knew that people are not going to be voting Labour and she might want to start looking for a job soon.

    But who cares anyone who had Labour at heart would have left months ago

  9. richard

    Lest we forget, Ruth Kelly only has a 2000 majority. A swing of 2% is all it would take for her to lose her seat.

    Even if she manages to rat-run over to the (nominally) safe seat of Bolton-East at the next election she’ll still probably be out of parliament, assuming the Conservatives manage a 10% national swing.

  10. Martin Cullip

    “I wrote a piece defending her right to choose a private school for one of her children”

    Of course she would, she was privately educated herself at a very good local school, my Sister went there too. Kelly is well aware that Labour run state schools are less than ideal.

    Her education is paying off here as she has recognised the irretrievable nature of the Labour Government and jumped before the ship sinks and takes her with it. What’s more, she does so with all her integrity intact.

    A new lucrative career beckons and best of luck to her for her prescience.

  11. Jim Duggan

    So, let me get this straight.

    She apparently told the PM months ago, but never bothered to tell one of her junior ministers within her own department?!?

    Don’t you feel a bit peeved about that?

    Or have you blown the gaffe, inadvertently, that this wasn’t as pre-meditated as everyone is trying to make us believe?

  12. dearieme

    More Socialists who thinks that crap State schools are good enough for the plebs but not for themselves.

  13. michael, Islington

    I was directed to this site by Iain Dale and I have not been disappointed. As several of your posters insinuate: you talk bollocks.

    The story doesn’t stand up. She doesn’t stand up. You don’t stand up.

    Stop wasting your time blogging.

  14. Johnny Norfolk

    Tom I would like to see you respond to John Redwoods blog today about Ruth Kelly and transport policy.

  15. John

    I wonder how many awards for commenting Michael, Islington has won, not as many as you have for blogging I bet.

  16. Jane

    I agree with all you wrote – I too have always admired Ruth Kelly and will be sorry to see her go. I am perturbed at how her leaving the government was made known and having read all the newspapers and blogs, the consensus is that Downing Street made a mess of it again! They really are deplorable – trying to demolish David Miliband’s reputation, probably behind press briefing on Ivan Lewis’s misdemeanour which occurred a year ago and was resolved at that time. In all, they need to be made aware that in protecting the PM from dissenters they are destroying the reputation of the Labour Party. I know which is more important?

  17. dreamingspire

    Naw, don’t buy it. Who was it told FGW to ‘get a grip’? The Chancellor, not the SofS. I could go on and on, but its not worth it – better things to do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s