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Jumping into the arms of her family

Andrew Neil | 10:04 UK time, Wednesday, 24 September 2008

kelly203x300.jpgSo farewell, then, Ruth Kelly. You're not the first minister to say you're resigning to spend more time with your family - and not the first to be met with cynical smiles as you say it.

The word here in Manchester is that the Transport Minister got wind that she was going to be a victim in Gordon Brown's upcoming reshuffle - so rather than being pushed, she jumped, denying G Brown the pleasure of sacking her.

cabinet438.jpgThe PM has been dithering over his reshuffle for sometime and it now looks like being pretty modest: Chief Whip Geoff Hoon, whom we interviewed yesterday, will replace Peter Mandelson as our European Commissioner when he steps down next June; Des Browne to stay in Defence but will give Scotland to Paul Murphy, who will combine it with Northern Ireland and Wales; and Liam Byrne to the Cabinet.

These are changes that nobody outside Westminster will notice and will have no impact either way on Mr Brown's prospects for holding on to his job. That will be determined by more fundamental factors: how badly the inevitable fallout from the financial turmoil affects an already weakened economy and whether voters see the PM has the man to clean up the mess - the Manchester mantra - or the man who helped cause it.

The Brown speech one day on is still getting decent reviews - the conventional wisdom is that it has bought him time - but in the wider world beyond the conference centre its impact is harder to discern. Most voters are worried about their jobs, meeting their mortgage payments, the soaring costs of food and fuel and simply making ends meet in the new austerity. But it is now dawning on commentators here that Mr Brown had very little to say about any of that in his speech - so the impact on voters may be less than the impact on the press pack.

This is the last morning of the Labour conference, which is usually a non-event, but Ms Kelly's departure has given it a little frisson and added interest to what she has to say. We'll bring you the latest and cover other speeches this morning, from Mr Brown's mini-me, Ed Balls, and the health secretary Alan Johnson, the man who says he doesn't want to be King.

Liz will be interrogating Tony Blair's former advisor Matthew Taylor and union leader Mark Serwotka over Labour's plans for public services and Giles will be putting his feet up in a Mancunian café to find out what members of the public have made of Labour's conference. So join us for our last live report from the Labour conference here in Manchester on the Daily Politics at Noon today on BBC2.


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