The government hung by a cashmere thread
So Gordon Brown is through this storm. And he has Peter Mandelson to thank for it.
For one moment on Thursday night, the government hung by a cashmere thread. But Peter Mandelson rallied David Miliband, the moment of maximum danger passed.
The Prime Minister is a weakened figure sitting in the Cabinet this morning. He could not re-shape it the way he wanted and Peter Mandelson, Alistair Darling, David Miliband, and Alan Johnson are all stronger than they were last week. How will they use that power?
Peter Mandelson could insist on keeping his Royal Mail bill intact AND on track – a second reading in the Commons this month – even though the sole bidder still in serious contention doesn’t seem to have come up with an acceptable price for part-privatisation. Will he?
There’s a suggestion that the Prime Minister’s election battle line of “cuts versus investment” is unpopular with some senior Cabinet ministers who see it as unconvincing and disingenuous when everyone knows that serious public spending cuts lie ahead.
One other post-reshuffle question doing the rounds: are we in for a change of direction on welfare? Can Gordon Brown go cold again on the David Freud agenda having gone cold and warmed up once already?
James Purnell would probably not see the new team of Yvette Cooper and Angela Eagle as intellectual soulmates on his workfare journey.