Tom Watson to stand down!

Blimey. Labour ministers are dropping like flies today. First Jacqui Smith, then Bev  Hughes and now my old mate Tom Watson – aka the man charged with sorting out lobbying.

Why now? Has dealing with lobbyists tipped him over the edge?

The offical line seems to be that Watson wants to spend more time with his young family. Another theory is that he thinks he can be more helpful to Brown as a backbencher given the febrile mood in the Labour Party. Meanwhile, the Tories have long been holding out for a smoking gun linking Watson to McBride…

What does Watson’s sharp exit mean for lobbying? For a start, I wouldn’t expect that Tom will be pondering the finer details of the public administration select committee’s report in to lobbying as he sits on the back benches. Rather, task will be passed on to someone else (who?) and any announcement will be pushed back even further.

It’s hard to avoid the consluion that radical reform of the public affairs industry is being kicked – even further – in to the long grass.

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