So David Cairns, the Minister of State for Scotland has quit.
His former boss, Des Browne, holds two positions in the cabinet: Scottish Secretary and Defence Secretary.
In practice, since Des Browne has had enough on his plate to deal with – with military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan – and many of our troops coming home in bodybags; David Cairns was ordinarily performing duties of a Scottish Secretary.
Although a lowly minister and probably not well known in the rest of the UK, he was well known in Scotland. He was very much Westminster’s man in Scotland. He once denounced the Scottish public and press as ‘McChattering classes’. He was never Scotland’s man in Westminster.
It is then a surprise to see him quit.
At the start of July this year he was backing up the Scottish Secretary, Des Browne, in his belief that Scotland never had it so good.
Only two months ago.
As he himself said in his resignation letter:
As someone who has never uttered a public word of criticism of our Labour Government, far less ever cast a vote against it in the years that I have been an MP, the concept of loyalty to my Party and our Leader is at the very heart of my political beliefs.
So he backed Des Browne in saying Scotland has never had it so good – in the middle of a global credit crunch and fuel and food prices through the roof! – and has never voted against Labour since he became a MP in 2001. You might say a career politican then.
So why would he resign?
Well, for one thing the office of Secretary of State for Scotland is about to be scrapped. He was about to be made redundant in any case.
He was also in charge of Labour’s gaffe prone election campaign in Glasgow East, where one of Labour’s safest seats in the UK fell to the SNP.
I very much doubt he wanted to be associated with losing the Glenrothes by-election too.
Losing that by-election – as looks likely – may well have finished his ministerial career anyway.
As his ministerial career under Gordon Brown looked to be finished anyway, it makes sense that he would leave now.
As one of the first ministers to resign and ask for a leadership election he may well be gambling that a new boss might pick him for the new team.
Even if not, he may be hoping that his actions to distance himself from the Labour Government might help him retain his Inverclyde seat at the next election. He has a majority of 11 000 but as Glasgow East proved no Labour seat is Scotland is currently safe. David Cairns is now no longer Westminster’s Yes man and that will surely help him retain Inverclyde.
The fact that he announced his resignation just before Iain Gray publically unveiled his new shadow ministers ensuring that press attention would be diverted to him, pretty much indicates his feelings towards the current Labour set-up.
I suspect he won’t be campaigning too hard in Glenrothes now.
A bad result may be the end for Gordon Brown.
That would be good news for David Cairns.