The call

OKAY, I admit that was a bit of a shock to the system. GB called five minutes ago and the bottom line is… hello again, back bench!

More later, once I’ve had a chance to ruminate.

UPDATE at 9.40 pm: Carolyn reckons she’s worked out the reasoning behind my sacking. She’s just drawn my attention to a strapline on BBC News that says: “Brown: We need serious people for serious times.”




Filed under Department for Transport, Gordon Brown, Parliament

63 responses to “The call

  1. Daibhi

    More time for the blog if nothing else.

  2. At least now you can slag him off for the waste of space that we all think GB is.

    Best of luck

  3. richard

    Perhaps another post about how we shouldn’t be so bloody miserable might help you get a bit more publicity.

    Chin up though, Mandelson’s back. Hooray!

  4. Martin Cullip

    Sincerely sorry to read that Tom, but it doesn’t surprise me … you have a brain between your ears. 😉

    Perhaps it’s your upbeat outlook on life that is the problem. To forge a career in the Labour PLP you must adhere to the rule that the electorate must be made to feel increasingly miserable at every opportunity.

  5. I reckon the big man has been reading this site.

    Not even Scotland Office? Pity.

  6. Brian

    Come join us at the SNP, its the future; consider if you want to shape the future or live in the past. There is no stopping the will of the great Scottish people!

  7. richard

    Yes, at least you can now come clean about Gordon and your thoughts about whether crossrail is ever going to happen…

  8. Brian

    He’s just bitter because he didn’t make Iain Dales top 10 Left-wing blogs!

  9. Martin Cullip

    Good point Richard, and Tom can also now comment about what a disaster the M6 Toll PFI has been seeing as it has actually INCREASED traffic on the motorway it was created to reduce. 😉

    (God I wish I was allowed in pubs again so I didn’t spend so much time talking politics)

  10. If the reshuffle tells us anything, it is that good people return to Government. Have fun, go campaigning and the call will come.

  11. Sorry to hear that, but take solace in the certainty that a man who appoints Mandelson for a third attempt must have lost his last vestige of reason.

  12. Mark

    “good people return to Government”

    What like Royal toadies like Mandy Money bags???

  13. Liz

    Sorry to hear that; not least because as Railways Minister, we knew you did actually use the railways regularly, which was heartening.

  14. Adrian

    Really sorry to hear that. But I suspect Labour’s loss will shortly also be Alex Salmond’s loss 🙂

    In the meantime, get some sleep, get some life back and get read to rumble!

  15. richard

    Go on. Call Gordon a moron.

    I promise it’ll make you feel better.

  16. Andrew F

    (Deeply insensitive as this is, I just want to point out that I called it:

    But, other than that, I’m gennuinely gutted for you. I can’t help but think that this fine blog has something to do with it. Telling the truth in politics gets you nowhere. If I’m at uni in the north of England in 2010, I will come and knock on doors and stuff envelopes for you, sir.

  17. Bedd Gelert

    Just watching Newsnight now – I wonder if Alan Milburn will be clearing some time in his diary for after Christmas ? And can Alistair Campbell’s return be far away ? If Charles Clarke returns, then one suspect that Tony Blair’s return cannot be that far away…

  18. Oh dear, sorry – hope it wasn’t the blog wot dunnit. I hear the back benches can be quite good fun…

  19. richard

    I do hope that Andrew F isn’t going to University to study geography.

  20. Bedd Gelert

    Andrew F – methinks you have hit the nail on the head – Jon Cruddas calls it as he sees it, and is still thinking, in the words of that old Deacon Blue song, ‘When will you make my telephone ring?’

    And I wouldn’t recommend that John McDonnell go for any long walks in the woods either..

  21. Andrew F

    Andrew F isn’t travelling from Exeter, Warwick or East Anglia to Scotland to campaign for anyone. But he might stretch to Lancaster > Glasgow or York > Glasgow.

    He isn’t, however, going to study Geography, which he maintains isn’t a real subject, but rather what people do when they have no specific intellectual interests. He’s insulted by richard’s insinuation that he could be such a dullard.

    Andrew F could also get used to this third person thing.

  22. Very much anonymous

    Tom, I’m very sorry to hear this news.

    I’m not a Labour supporter and I won’t be voting Labour at the next election. However, I know that most politicians of any political persuasion genuinely want to do their best to help their constituents and the people of the UK. You exemplify this.

    You have, from all the evidence available to me, been a conscienscious and hard-working Minister. You’ve handled a difficult portfolio extremely well and have built up a lot of respect on a personal level within the rail industry. I am sure that the industry’s journals will decry your treatment for weeks to come.

    You have been courteous to and respectful of your officials. You ask intelligent questions at the right time and you have a remarkable talent to sense when you are being “fed a line”, be it by officials or by industry figures.

    Your blog has opened up the political process to the average citizen more than any other. While Iain Dale and Guido write superb blogs, they don’t have the perspective that you do.

    It is my sincere belief that your party will lose the next election by a large margin. However, despite my Conservative sympathies, I distrust large majorities. I sincerely hope that you will continue with both your blog and your devotion to your job and will hold Governments of both parties to account from the back benches.

    More than that, after the next election, your party will need a core group of experienced but untainted leaders to pull it out of a very deep hole. You have the potential to go far higher within your party than you have managed to date. Please don’t let this setback discourage you.

    Why do I say this?

    Because I’ve been working for you in DfT for quite some time. Hence why I’m staying anonymous.

  23. Chris' Wills

    Sorry to hear that you’ve lost your post. (no snark)

    I don’t agree with your politics, I know that you’re shocked at that revelation :o), but you did use the railways and seem fairly straight forward.

    The goverments loss is the back benches gain.

    Any chance of you being a maverick and challenging Broon for the PM job?

    You’ld be a better PM.

  24. That’ll teach ya for blogging your web traffic. Probably makes look bad …

  25. Johnny Norfolk

    Sorry about this, but I am not suprised, you are a free thinker, eat Mc Donalds and complain about Health & Safety stupidity, Listen to other peoples opinions. maried with kids. Have a life and say what you think.

    No room in a Labour government for someone like that. Its very sad, we have less freedom today than ever and its a dissapointment.
    I feel very depressed about the whole thing.

    Please keep blogging yours is the first I look at.

  26. Bedd Gelert

    But would you really want to be in the Cabinet, if Geoff Hoon was to be your boss ?

    Wait until Ed Milband’s career takes off – I would hitch your wagon to his star pronto – that guy really is going places….

  27. Harry T.

    Sorry to hear that Tom. From my point of view you seem like a decent bloke; you care about astronomy, not too keen on H&S, write an informative blog etc.

  28. Wes Mantooth

    Ministerial car no more. Ouch.

    Ach weel at least you attempted a go at open democracy, without attracting too much vitriol.

    I echo Brian’s sentiments come and join the SNP, working within the tightest of budgets we’re still hugely more popular than your party and more left leaning!

    Incidentally, Jim Murphy as SofSforScotland, come off it! Do you see him as an intellectual behemoth capable of smiting Salmond or more gibbering cannon fodder?

  29. Madasafish

    Hard luck Tom.

    Mind you I doubt – judging for your blog – if you would be compatible with a Government containing Mandelson.

    You appear too open and honest..

    I am sure you will become a Shadow Minister as your Party will need every competent MP it has after the next GE.

    Best of luck.. and keep blogging..

    I suspect you are being done a favour. Time will tell. Being associated with this Government as a Minister could be an albatross round your neck for decades.

  30. Brian

    So… whats the chances that will be Peter Mandleson that weilds the knife ‘wot does it’ for King Brown?

  31. Vincent Mc Dee

    Tom, it seems that my comment over you risking a visit from someone else but the milkman at 4 am. due to your support for Cairns, was not so far from the mark.

    The thing is that I do not know if to commiserate you or to congratulate you, as you may end richer in more ways than one at the end, I think.

    Remember we are always in the look-out for fresh, healthy, intelligent blood, at the SNP.

  32. Tom, sorry to hear your news – the DfT has lost a true rail advocate. The silver lining is that I won’t continue to badger you about High Speed Rail.

    But I do know that you’ll continue to do a great job as a constituency MP…and blogger.

  33. I’m sure it’s a horrible feeling. Sorry to hear that.

  34. Rapunzel

    So sorry. Was hoping to lobby you for a link from Eurostar to the Highlands. Ah well. There goes lunch in Paris.

    You won’t join the SNP, will you?

  35. Paul Martin


    So sorry to hear this. I’ve greatly enjoyed working with you and genuinely feel that the rail industry has lost a great champion and friend. The whole industry has seen you as the most effective Rail Minister in memory and we feel that your achievements richly deserve promotion in government rather than what has happened.

  36. Patchouli

    Just caught up with this news; gutted for you, Tom. The only consolation I can give is that there are a heck of a lot of people who are more depressed than you must feel.

    Maybe you are a casualty of the demand from the usual suspects to cull the numbers of Scots in the government?

    Geoff Hoon…what a Kinnear.

  37. Blue

    Hi Tom, i’m sorry to hear the news. I do hope, however, that you will continue to support the government and not lose your drive to be involved in politics.

    A return to the back benches is not ideal for anyone, but you can still be an effective MP there.

    At the end of the day, i’d look at the fact that you. will be able to deal with the ordinary issues that are bothering people again in your constituency and spend more time (perhaps!) with your family.

    I’m sure there’ll be a chance to serve in the future. Alternatively, i think you would make a good chair of a select committee!

  38. Paul

    Tom – I’m sorry. If the government don’t understand that actually having people who – you know – can actually connect with voters on a personal level and gain their respect as an equal rather than as part establishment, then we are in a significantly worse place than it appears at the moment.

    You’ll be back – we need you.

  39. I trust you’ll keep up the blogging, and use your newfound freedom wisely. It’s very rare for politicians’ blogs to garner praise from outside their own party, but you’ve certainly earned those plaudits, much as I disagree with you on substantive matters of politics.

    Best of luck.

  40. Cod Roe

    So one waste of space out of transport and the railway, the question is will an equally large waste of space come in to replace him?

  41. Jeremy Candfield


    Deeply disappointed. The railway needs and respects your common sense, wisdom and obvious commitment. You have left a hard act to follow; we will miss you.

  42. Auntie Flo'

    Dear Tom,

    I am so sorry – and angry – to hear that you have lost your job at the Dft.

    Despite your support for so many policies and things that I oppose (New Labour, the invasion of Iraq and airport/ runway expansion in particular), you are one of the few New Labourites I have any respect for.

    Your blog is brilliant, an exemplary democratic model for all of your colleagues. You’re a rare politician among the left, Tom, one who is prepared to listen and to consider other points of view – even if you then brush them aside as so much twaddle 🙂

    I’m angry at your sacking, thaty Brown is such a fool and prepared to damage our country by retaining and restoring the worst elements of his government while letting the best go.

    My view is that Brown sacked you out of fear, because you were becoming far too popular among us great unwashed out here.

    Never mind, Tom, as an anon has already said, I’ve no doubt you will have one of the formative and top roles in rebuilding the Labour Party – not New Labour – after nulab’s impending crushing defeat at the next election. I’ve no doubt that you will be re-elected during that election, because you’re as much a man of the people as a Party man and your constiuents will recognise that.

    Keep your chin up – and keep blogging.

  43. The reason he *should* have sacked you is your failure to sort out the conniving and idiotic civil service dinosaurs at ‘DaFT’ – tales of departmental mish-mashes have kept readers of Roger Ford’s Informed Sources giggling for ages.

    And letting the Tories have a more credible rail policy that New Labour was, perhaps, an oversight.

    However, we both know that your performance had little to do with this; politics is all in, er, politics!

  44. Brian Brivati

    I just caught up with the fact you have been sacked by GB. Very sorry to hear this. Iain Dale introduced me to your site a while back and I have enjoyed it. You will be back in real time front line politics before long, I am sure, and please continue to take a lead in web politics – Labour needs you. best wishes, Brian Brivati

  45. Shelldrake

    I’m sorry to see you go. I hope the cut in salary doesn’t affect too much your re-election campaign. I know at least one MP who was hoping to move up off the back benches because he needed the pay boost to fund his marginal seat campaign. I guess that’s all part of politics.
    I think DfT will be the poorer for your going. I’m still not convinced that 1,300 new carriages is 1,300 new carriages but that might be me being thick. I’m not entirely convinced by DfT’s response to the ROSCO CC report. I’m not entirely convinced that short franchises are the way forward and I’m not entirely convinced about dual-mode IEP but that’s what debate is all about.
    What I was pleased to see was Ruth’s conversion to the merits of electrification and I fear that now the rail industry will have to ‘start over’ in convincing the new ministerial team.
    Perhaps once you’ve found your back bench spot you could share your thoughts.
    And, if it’s any consolation, few remember Gwyneth Dunwoody as a minister but there are few railwaymen that have forgotten her.

  46. Disgusted of Nuneaton

    I for one am Glad Tom is sacked. As the Minister for Railways, he has led the change at the DfT of Nuneaton losing its fast off-peak Virgin rail service to/from London from December. Mr Harris has always pulled the strings on this major issue and Virgin have simply abided by his decisions. Thank god you’ve gone, Tom. Nuneaton will be glad to see the back of you.

  47. Zorro

    Commiserations Tom. Not really much more to say apart from I hope the blog did not contribute…

  48. Frank Davis

    I’m sorry to hear this, Tom. Currently you’re the only Labour MP that I like. The only one I can think of, leastways. And from the comments upthread, it seems like you were good at your ministerial job. I really hope that Labour get slaughtered at the next election – but that you survive.

  49. Chin up, old boy.

    Between the blog and your work at DafT, you have more friends on leaving this job than when you started it; which is probably as fair a comment on your commitment as any.

    Good luck, Tom.

  50. Andrew Webb

    Soory to hear that you’ve lost you job Tom.
    But at least its for the good, the DfT/Virgin Trains plan to cut Trains to Nuneaton will be given a good look-over.
    I wasnt holding my breath that it would have happened if you was still in the job.
    I wonder what Geoff Hoon will do if I contacted him………..

  51. Blackacre

    Tom, sad news. Says it all about the Labour Party that they can drop a nearly sensible human like you and re-re-recruit a weirdo like Mandelson. This is one of the reasons they will lose next time round..

    In the mean time I hope you become a constructive critic of your party.

  52. Ed Tartooth

    So why did Brown sack you?

  53. McGaffer

    Sorry to hear about loosing your job. Sad news given you have the best left blog on the web.

    As someone who grew up in your constituency (before moving down to the bright lights etc) under John Maxton, your blog has reassured that its still being looked after well, but more than that I felt it has given a real human insight to the job of being an MP and a Minister, which I think people forget is the most important thing after all, its not all cold, cynical alculated decisions. All the best in the future.

  54. Chris Wilson


    Sorry to hear that your not staying on as Railways Minister. You’ve been one of the best RailwaysMinisters. I’ll keep reading the blog though – always good value.

  55. Martin Barber

    Let’s hope we can now have some common sense (and environmentally responsible thinking) brought to the table regarding the mauling of high-speed rail services in the Trent Valley area of the Midlands. Otherwise, Labour will surely pay the price at the next election in the constituencies like Nuneaton.

  56. Donald Duck

    Why replace someone a “can do” person who appears to knows his portfolio area inside out, clearly has a passion for it, understands the limitations yet has a determination to make improvements, questions things that have taken too long or asks why something…

    Hmm. Sorry, I’ve answered my own question. GB doesn’t like questions or being held to account does he? Whilst his mobiles fly around the corridors of power, you can start planning how you and you more knowledgeable and rational colleagues are going to pick up the pieces ready for (2014/2015?) John. Good luck and regards,

    Mr Duck.

  57. iain smith

    Does this mean you will be joining in the anti-Brown revolt among backbenchers?There must be many Labour MPs mad as hell about Mandelsons return.Could you give us some indication of the strength of feeling among the backbenchers right now,and assess the chances of something happening following the Glenrothes by-election,if as expected Labour loses?

  58. iain smith

    P.S at least GB had the decency to sack you in person!

  59. Pingback: Unrequired Reading {6.10.08}

  60. Dang


    Just to echoe the comments, in my dealings with you I have found you to be a genuinely engaged Minister who clearly understood his brief. A thoroughly nice chap as well.

    Excellent job, excellent blog, and who lives in Nuneateon anyway?

    Best of luck for the future.

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