Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Mandelson could be back in reshuffle"

The great thing about the cabinet reshuffle is that it gives the lobby the chance to do what it does best - make it all up. This year is no exception except that most hacks aren't even sure if the Prime Minister is going to do anything at all before the long summer break. He would be wise to wait, because he has consistently botched his reshuffles.

Tony Blair's first mistake was to give Peter Mandelson a cabinet job, knowing that he would lose it once his home loan became public knowledge. Bringing him back again was bound to end in tears. Can you believe, then, that some hacks are suggesting the twice-disgraced ex-minister will make a third comeback?

It's difficult to remember all of Blair's absurd appointments, there are so many. My favourite was the promotion of "Junket" Jack Cunningham to the job of cabinet "enforcer". This was back in 1998, when Alastair Campbell persuaded the PM to sack all of Gordon Brown's mates. Cunningham was supposed to chair the morning strategy meeting. It soon became obvious why Campbell had chosen him: after a few days, Jack decided that he was too busy to attend - and guess who took over?

Only once did Blair try to give the Chancellor a minister he didn't want. Geoff "Buff" Hoon was told by No 10 that he was to replace Geoffrey Robinson as Paymaster General. It didn't happen. The PM couldn't sack someone who refused to take his calls!

For sheer incompetence, though, we need look no further than the last reshuffle. Blair abolished the post of Lord Chancellor, only to find out that he didn't have the power to do so. Surely he can't screw it up again, can he?

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