Kind words that mean a lot

SOME people have been leaving very nice and supportive messages since I got The Call. Some not so nice, but there you are.

If what follows were to be my political epitaph, however, I could hardly expect anything better. It was posted as a comment last night under the name “Very Much Anonymous”, and you’ll see the reason for that in the last line. I hope one day this particular individual will make him/herself known to me. But in the meantime, whoever you are, thank you.

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.



Filed under Conservative Party, Department for Transport, Parliament, Politics, Uncategorized

25 responses to “Kind words that mean a lot

  1. Tom – bad luck.

    The rail industry will of course miss you.

    But much more importantly a blogging Minister of the Crown has been a unique experiment in open government and one that many believe has been a great success.

    Perhaps a pity this view was not shared elsewhere.

    That said you have broken new ground and it will be difficult to put this particular genie back in the bottle, no matter how hard the Control Freaks try.

    On the plus side you’ll now have time to undertake that promised revamp of your site.

    Looking forward to its relaunch.

  2. richard

    Yes, and given that most people seem to agree that Labour is likely to get a fairly substantial spanking at the next election a shot at a shadow cabinet role in a radically constricted Labour party can’t be far away.

  3. LadyR


    Having also worked with you at DfT for a while, I can only echo those sentiments.

    I am very sorry that the Department is losing a dedicated, knowledgeable Minister, with whom it’s been a pleasure to work.

    Best of luck, and keep blogging!

  4. scouser


    I have only recently started reading your blogs, they are refreshing and illuminating of the Labour party. Your bloggings were a change from the polished PR blogs.

    Good luck for the future

  5. HenryG Manson

    You’ll be missed, but hopefully you’ll be back sooner rather than later. Henry.

  6. Tom, take heart from Margaret Beckett’s experience. She’s experienced heights like being temporary Labour leader, and Foreign Secretary, and lows such as being demoted to the backbenches and losing her parliamentary seat. But she always comes back.

    Politics is a long game and those who can take temporary setbacks with a smile are the ones to prosper in the end. You’ve probably got another thirty years in the Commons yet, and plenty can and will happen in that time!

  7. Archimedes

    I can only sympathise and urge you to go on being a human being and an artist prepared to express himself through blogging. Yours is one of the very best blogs: informed but discreet and entertaining.

  8. Auntie Flo'

    That’s not your political epitaph, Tom, we’ve not seen the last of you at the top of the Labour Party by a long chalk. You’ll be back.

  9. I hope you took my comment as being kind words, that’s how they were meant but they read perhaps a tad light-hearted for the circumstances in the cold light of day. I’d taken on board a few glasses to celebrate the return of Peter Mandelson and Margaret Beckett.

    Good luck, I’m sure you’ll be back. Maybe you’ll relish the chance to spend some more time with your children than you could as a minister; they won’t stay young for long (although it does sometimes feel like you’ll be a taxi driver forever!)…

  10. Bob Melton

    You went up in my estimation substantially when you told that David Grossman where to go with his silly Newsnight wristband game last year.

    I didn’t think you needed to apologise later, but you did so in a typically gracious way, which showed a good deal of class and humour.

    There are not many of the 646 who can do a reasonable impersonation of a human being, but you are certainly one of them.

  11. Interesting that you get such touching tributes from within your former Department. But not surprising giving that we have learned from the blog that what you see is what you get – an honest bloke.

    But I have to query that: ‘you have a remarkable talent to sense when you are being “fed a line”, be it by officials or by industry figures’.

    Hmm, I won’t bore you readers with trainspotting detail, but I don’t think you understood what was going on in your name, the inconsistencies, policy swings and so on.

    Yes, you were an excellent figurehead minister, did a great job on supporting exports, and spoke up for the industry wittily and well. But in my book you failed to get a grip on your directorate. This is, of course, par for the course and I don’t expect any better from your successor. But I for one hoped for more after our first meeting when you came into the job.

  12. Tom

    I just wanted to add my support. I think its an enormous shame that you’ve been recalled to the backbenches but equally I cannot think of any cabinet minister or prime minister whose ascent to the front bench has been a smooth one. Indeed many would say that its the rough moments that refine the man.

    As another commentator said, enjoy Reggie and Ronnie while you are still the centre of their world, it won’t continue forever.

    My very best wishes


  13. Rapunzel

    Tom, you’re on the six-o-clock news on Radio 4. They reckon it was your “miserable” blog what did for you! Tune in, quick.

  14. Sorry that you lost the position Tom, despite disagreements on some things.

    Keep on writing, and keep on debating.

    Matt Wardman

  15. Sad news indeed and even sadder for the prospect of future Ministers blogging while in office.

  16. Alex Brodie

    Glad you got the axe. Exactly what you deserve after your totally idiotic “why is everyone so bloody miserable” gaffe. Looking forward to you being further found out and sacked from your job as an MP. Bring it on.

  17. mordecai

    There is a character in the book of Esther called Haman.

    He is summoned to the presence of the king, expecting to hear good news regarding his career in politics. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite go his way.

    I wonder? What were you thinking when you were told the PM wished to speak with you?

  18. What a wonderful testimonial Tom. Was the same ever said of Mandelson when he was forced to quit? Therein lies the answer. Good luck.

  19. joe bonanno

    Sorry to see you go.

    Coming from the private sector myself, I find it amazing that a government forms a team supposedly of its best people and then a few months down the line completely changes it.

    In a FTSE board would the shareholders really stand for the Finance Director becoming the Marketing Director, the Personnel oops Human Resources Director being replaced by the Sales Director etc etc ad nauseam? And all in the name of ‘freshening up’?

    Of course none of this is for the good of the country and all of it for the good of Captain Snot.

    Now that you’re on the outside looking in I’m sure you’ll agree with the rest of us that you are looking at a bunch of self-serving chancers.

    Ignore those who would like you to join the SNP whose sole policy/ sole clue for Scotland is a rank calculation of whether they can screw a bigger subsidy out of the English taxpayer or the EU.

    Now that the scales have been ripped from your eyes and you see the bankruptcy of the New Labour Project – cross the floor – where’s the future in being a backbencher in a party doomed to 15 or 20 years of (feeble) opposition. Rhetorical question.

  20. Dirty Euro

    You seem to have taken it well. Why did he get rid of a scottish man?

  21. Johnny Norfolk


    Perhaps you can understand how we now feel about the labour government. You have worked hard and from the comments you are respected for doing a good job. So why have you been treated like this. We have worked hard and saved never taking any benifit etc. Yet we are treated like naughty children with fines for this and fines for that. Why does the government hate hard working tax payers. You are now in a position to perhaps answer this.

    I regret the way you have been treated as you are a fair man, in fact your own man like we are and that does not fit in to the dictatorship where independent thinking is not wanted. I could never support Labour and the way you have been treated confirms this. However I hope you keep your head held high, and move on. You should always be true to yourself as cream always floats to the top in the end.

    We need more people like you not less. I am sure your time will come again. I fully endorse Iain Dales piece about you. Take a visit to the North Norfolk coast and clear your head/ The Hoste Arms in Burnham Market would give you a great break.

    Perhaps we should start the Bloggers party where there is room for all.

  22. Tom

    I’ve enjoyed this blog immensely, and by being a member of the government who was quite open with your thoughts you improved the standing of that government in my eyes considerably. I’m sorry to hear you go, and wish you all the best. Keep posting though!

  23. Tom

    I am genuinely very sorry to see you go. You were – are a friend to the railway without being blind to the usefulness of other modes. Many of my friends and colleagues would have preferred to see you rise to the Cabinet rather than being on the back benches. Never mind, you can still be a force to be reckoned with and if you wish, my company can still keep you up to speed with our People Mover developments on the rail transport side.

  24. bob elliots ghost

    Having had the pleasure of meeting you in your official capacity, one of a number of ministers I have met in various roles over the years, I have to say that your ability to grasp the essence of a case and to respond empathetically makes you stand out from the crowd.

    We will, I hope, see more of you and hear more from you. Like John Parry I hope you will keep your hand in with regard to transport; I say that both as a campaigner for more and better railway provision, and as a Labour supporter desperate to see us win a fourth term who believes that Britan deserves better than a high speed rail equivalent of the M25, as promised by the Cameroons.

  25. Richard


    I am sorry you were sacked. I work in the railways and I thought that you did a good minister.

    You’re a bit too generous to the person you quote who apparently works at the DfT. They spent far too much time attacking Labour and saying how they thought Labour would be smashed at the General Election for my liking.

    I am a long time Labour member and supporter and think it is far too early (despite the terrible polls) to predict the result of the next election.

    After all, whoever thought New Labour would be nationalising banks (let alone George Bush’s Republicans)?

    To paraphrase, eighteen months is a very long time in politics………..

    What do you think of Mandy’s return, Tom?

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