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Worcestershire Sauce

Michael Crick | 18:03 UK time, Friday, 17 April 2009

Several papers suggested this morning that Jacqui Smith's job as Home Secretary is on the line after a succession of problems - the Damian Green debacle; public outrage over her Parliamentary expenses; and several controversies involving police incompetence, or apparent heavy-handedness, or both. Her political authority has been falling rapidly.

So I went to Redditch in Worcestershire this afternoon, to see what her constituents think. Redditch is the most marginal seat held by a Cabinet minister, ranked 45 among Labour's most risky constituencies, with a notional majority of 2,163 under the new, slightly revised, boundaries.

Many shoppers and traders in the market place were disgusted by her expense claims. Some think she has also done a poor job as home secretary, though few people are familiar with the details of the problems which have beset her.

"She should go and get a job in Tesco,' one constituent remarked. 'But they'd have to train her up!"

What struck me, however, is how many constituents, usually unprompted, said she was an excellent local MP, and several of them cited cases which Jacqui Smith has specifically pursued for them.

And even the Lib Dem leader on Redditch Council, who stood against Smith in 1997, admitted she is a good constituency member. A quote which I can easily see appearing on Jacqui Smith's leaflets at the next election.

So watch my piece tonight, particularly the good-natured spat about Smith between women as they bought their weekend strawberries. One of my best voxpops in ages!

(Watch it here.)

Alas, we didn't have time to visit the National Needle Museum located in Redditch. Just as well perhaps. They might have accused us of stitching them up.


  • Comment number 1.


    The Westminster Filter is a phenomenon. It filters out purity and lets through contamination. Quite a piece of kit!

    Of course there are incidences of Jacquie Smith supporting SOME constituents; but did she ever go against the whip or party policy, so to do?

    The defining attribute of all MPs, seen daily on our screens, is the POLITICAL NON-ANSWER. It is blatant, insulting and arrogant (and connived at by media jockeys). Jackie belongs in Westminster, so do they all, but none should be allowed anywhere near our lives or our governance.

  • Comment number 2.

    A stitch in time saves nine.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    this present Labour obsession with secrecy and spin has dragged into the gutter a once proud party. Smith as Home Secretary should resign forwith as she is first in line for Brown's axe.

  • Comment number 5.

    Post One Spot On Barrie not me or anyone else can/could beat that. Regards 2 JJ

  • Comment number 6.

    AM I NOW - OR HAVE I EVER BEEN . . . (#5)

    Blimey dAllan - you know how to flatter a bloke and scare him witless at a stroke! Compliment well received, but I hope you don't think I have any link with Jaded Jean!
    I admit that in the odd unguarded moment I might have made murmurings of quasi-approval, but I am still hoping that when the Terror Squad smash down JJ's door, they will leave mine un walloped (and the same goes for my person).

    I wonder if I volunteer for the Tony Blair Interfaith Foundation, I shall be spared?
    Hey! I just cracked the code!!!
    Anthony Blair Interfaith Foundation = ABIF.
    Move over C S Lewis. All is revealed!

  • Comment number 7.

    Jacqui Smith Queen of the Tesco Supermarket.

    She's better to bow out than to be sacked or moved down the food chain come the next reshuffle.

  • Comment number 8.

    Barrie have I scared you or have you scared yourself. Truth and Accuracy is nothing 2 be frightened of. I mentioned JJ because she is an equal up 2 the Task.

    Fear is A Key but not only but also A Tool

    Both Usefull

  • Comment number 9.


    Why is Obamaville calling CO2 a 'health risk'? It is an odd choice of words - to what end? Next he will be saying that torture is only culpable if it has not been labelled 'harmless' by experts.

    Oh well, there is still a nice doggie at the Whitehouse.

  • Comment number 10.

    1. At 7:06pm on 17 Apr 2009, barriesingleton

    Spot on. Ignoring the mirrors, it is interesting to note that while most filters serve to render smoke less harmful, it seems there can be a variant where they serve to add even more obscure fog, thus allowing yet more toxins to seem through un-noticed.

    Though a tad hard to square with a job spec. of finding out what politicians would prefer the world not to know.

    Ms. Smith must be truly horrified that, on top of all else we have learned from other sources these last few weeks, she is in fact so well loved and deemed competent by those who really know her (like all those who 'know' PM Brown, I guess, if perhaps from slightly different positions).

    But it must be true. I am frankly in awe of the political maturity of Redditch, such that a brief stroll through a Tescos nets not just so many aware of their Westminster rep's travails, but have only recently enjoyed fruitful tete a tetes at the weekly surgery. Whodathunk?

    Almost worth my checking out one of the best voxpops yet. Though perhaps uneasy at the self-promo, as with Justin R's 'this is a really good one' advance big-up of his piece. I know these are blogs and all, but shouldn't the glowing critique be from others, and afterwards? But much must be the pride to see the quote one delivered on the election leaflets come the day. I am sure the BBC, chests bursting with pride, will provide full support, too. With all other parties appreciating the endorsement is sincere.

    Speaking of which, and as Barrie has raised it too, one has to give top kudos to this from another colleague, which works on so many levels, from science to subbing, and deserves some kind of award for its services to another under-appreciated politician and a clearly poorly served subject:

    Obama to regulate 'pollutant' CO2

    Susan Watts, look out!

    Shame no comments enabled. I was... am in awe.

  • Comment number 11.

    Jackie Smith made cannabis a class B drug again, made looking at extreme pornography a crime, advocates national ID cards, prevents photographers from taking pictures, wants suspects to be held for 42 days without charge, wants the fingerprints and DNA of people with no criminal record kept forever by police. The dodgy expense claims and the police killing innocent people aren't important, Smith is the embodiment of the nanny, surveillance, police state.
    If she doesn't get kicked out I'm heading to Redditch at election time to spread anti-Smith propaganda.

  • Comment number 12.


  • Comment number 13.


    "Ms Jackson concluded that these impacts would fall disproportionately on people who were poor or in ill health, and on INDIGENOUS GROUPS."

    That would be the 'Red Indians' huh? The ones who got no mention in Obama's inauguration speech. The ones who lived in a respectful symbiotic relationship with Mother Earth, on land to the West of the Atlantic, until . . . Another apology perhaps?

    I don't know weather to laugh or weep first.

  • Comment number 14.


    I hope the dozy media will manage to realise that the Alice Mahon event is more about Westminster governance than NewLabour or Brown. All the parties work on the same (lack of) principles; NL just happen to be the most desperate right now.


  • Comment number 15.

    It can be a strange place, Redditch.

    The road system is most peculiar. The even place some direction signs after the turning rather than before.

    Did you notice that they have even painted some of the social housing in shades of grey?

    Nevertheless the people seem to be quite happy and friendly. On my many visits I have always found them, like you did, pleasant and helpful.

    I suppose if you can't find you way out of a town you have to make the best of it.

  • Comment number 16.

    Smith is a follower of Aston Villa Football Club. She deserves all the flak she gets.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well, I hope being O/T is OK if a compliment is in order.

    We may not always agree, but I applaud the Newsnight mods for being closer to the spirit of accepting one's right to write a tad more than others who shall remain named, Mr. Robinson.

  • Comment number 18.

    As a taxpayer. a businessman. a struggling mortgage payer and a Redditch resident I am appalled at the antics of Smith and her fellow M,Ps. How can we possibly rely on this lot to. Labour or Tory, to get us out of this mess when they are so obviously preoccupied defending there own indefenceable excesses? It is unfortunate it takes the Press so long to pick up these excesses .the website has been publicising such infomation for months including the wasting of billions of taxpayers hard earned pounds as a result of the unneccessary Government repossessions taking place.

  • Comment number 19.

    Why nothing on the latest story of the NHS killing machine - as reported on tonight's PM?

    Jeremy should ask Brown why, for example, we are more likely to find more care and consideration at the hairdresser's (or from the plumber, the mechanic, the AA man and so on) than in a British hospital. And he should ask why 'Health and Safety laws' for the protection of clients are more policed in the above trades than in an NHS hospital?

  • Comment number 20.

    Why is it those fiddling their expenses and hoovering money from the people of this country at the moment all seem to be Catholics?
    Ruth Kelly, a member of Opus Dei, actually left 88 known sex offenders teaching the children of this country!
    Living proof maybe that the nearer you get to the centre of world wide paedophilia the more sexually deviant you become. Lets not forget Harringay council, baby p and Victoria Climbe, and the fact that Blair was made a night of Malta, why?
    What treasonable act did he perform for the Vatican? Getting Gordon to sell them the country's gold at a knock down price?
    Maybe Islam isn't the country's most dangerous theological problem after all.

  • Comment number 21.

    You forgot to mention her promotion of 42 days detention without charge - against advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.


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