Dame Rosie Winterton DBE has been relieved of her duties as the Labour Party’s Chief Whip in the latest cabinet reshuffle. She has held the position for six years, holding Labour MP’s together (at least on the floor of the House of Commons) under the leadership of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Jeremy Corbyn. The job, even at the best of times, requires savvy, empathy, humour, influencing skill, problem-solving ability, creativity, diplomacy, broad shoulders and iron will. Rosie, who I have known since we were at University, has all of these in spades. She is trusted and admired by MPs on both sides of the aisle. Rosie will be sorry to lose a job she loved and must be feeling cast adrift and rudderless today. (I haven’t spoken to her: I imagine her phone is ringing off the hook, people are piling into the office she must now vacate, and flowers are being delivered on the hour, every hour). She’ll be fine though; better than fine, for she is more than a title, and a position. Through very different phases in the life of the Labour Party, Rosie has been loyal to whoever is leader, to party and Parliamentary process, and to the ideal of democracy. She has been focused on making things work, bringing a very practical and pragmatic approach to her public service. I hope she enjoys the many toasts that will cheer her on to the next stage in her political and personal life, and that the next recess will bring a long holiday somewhere sunny. (She is MP for Doncaster Central. However much she loves it, her constituency is not bathed in warming sunlight in November). I hope she knows that MPs of all stripes will continue to seek her out for advice, succour and scuttlebutt, and that her doughty common sense and political wile will continue to allow her to shape and lead the future of the country and the party she has championed since schooldays. I hope she is able to spend time thinking about what SHE really wants, and how to make it happen, inside the House of Commons, and in the outside world. Now she can use her considerable skills in her own service, and free from cabinet-level duties she can perhaps do more for the future of the party, the parliament, and the country. She has an enviable ability to walk long distances, at speed, wearing very high heels. She has tireless energy. She is clear-sighted, charming and clued in. There will be no stopping her. You go girl x.
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