Hazel Blears is not the first Cabinet Minister to appear at a protest against their own Government's policies. John Reid and Jacqui Smith beat her to it. But it does take some brass face to appear on a picket line at a hospital you are at least in part responsible for closing. She protests that she is doing it in her role as a constituency MP, but that argument just doesn't wash. Many believe that if she felt so strongly, rather than just having private little chats with Patricia Hewitt about 'heat maps' concerning hospital closures in marginal seats, she should resign.
Paul Linford disagrees. He writes: I have always regarded Hazel Blears as a just another shameless New Labour careerist, but perhaps there is more to her after all. She has certainly gone up in my estimation this week, and more importantly, I suspect she will also have gone up in the estimation of thousands of Labour members with votes in the party's deputy leadership election.
And there we have it. Could this be the real reason for Ms Blears putting her nose above the parapet? Well, if so, she need only look at THIS thread on LabourHome to see the reaction of some Labour members. They are not impressed. Not impressed at all.
I suspect that Ms Blears is rather more worried about her political future closer to home than the Deputy leadership. She's taken a calculated gamble, and the gamble is that local Labour Party members will view her move positively and help her be selected for her much redrawn seat. Hmmm. Not so sure.