Gordon Brown today confirmed the appointment of three opposition MPs to advise his "government of all the talents". Conservative MPs Patrick Mercer and John Bercow will advise Labour ministers, along with former Liberal Democrat Chairman Matthew Taylor. This is the second wave of non-Labour party appointments by Mr Brown, following previous appointments including former police chief Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, former CBI Director-General Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, and Baroness Neuberger.
Mr Mercer (MP for Newark), a former homeland security spokesman under David Cameron before being was sacked following comments on black soliders, will provide advice to security minister Lord West of Spithead; Mr Bercow (MP for Buckingham) has agreed to review services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs, an area where he has a long-term interest; and Matthew Taylor, MP for the Cornwall constituency of Truro and St Austell, will advise the government on land use and how the planning system can support sustainable rural communities.
The appointment of Mr Taylor (loyalist of and former Chief of Staff to Charles Kennedy who was deposed as Liberal Democrat Party Leader following increased reports about his drinking), is especially interesting, given the persisent rumours of a possible threat to the leadership of Sir Menzies Campbell by either Nick Clegg or by Mr Kennedy himself. Sir Menzies however welcomed Mr Taylor's appointment, stressing he had been privy to the agreement. Of course he was.
Whilst having respect for the achivements of John Bercow, I've got to wonder at the appointment of Pat Mercer, who tied himself up in interminable knots following his comments about racism in the army being akin to the abuse of redheaded soldiers. Whether his taking up the position with the Auld Enemy is the result of a continuing fit of pique at being unceromoniously shelved following the ensuing scandal, or if he simply wants to prove a point to the leadership for any future reshuffle (a post-Election one, for example) who knows, but this certainly seems a strange way of going about it.
As for Labour, the unrest muttered on the part of several Labour MPs previously tipped for Government posts has not gone unnoticed by the author. Whether these MPs have been promised promotion following any prospective election (i.e. once Brown no longer needs the PR value of his "multi-talented" Government and can get back to what does best, namely laying down his personal diktat, refusing all discussion or debate around it, and taking out anyone who doesn't agree) we shall have to wait and see.