From "Iraqi mothers should thank us for cluster bombs" to "council tenants should get a job". A journey through New Labour's values - featuring fridge magnets, dodgy claims and parliamentary expenses.
At bamboozling speed, Hazel Blears, James Purnell, John Hutton, Geoff Hoon and Caroline Flint all joined the game of Jenga that is being played around Gordon Brown's moribund government.
One after the other, and in spite of a decade-long blind devotion, they suddenly found a reason to disagree with the Master and resigned. Look at Flint and her mind-boggling levels of political conviction. On Thursday she publicly backed Brown. On Friday she accused him of using women as "window dressing" and handed in her notice.
So, perhaps, after 12 years in power, it's time for a quick appraisal of what those professionals of New Labour added to the 'glorious history' of a "party of strong values" that still claims to represent the "low-paid working class".
Geoff Hoon. A Cabinet member since Tony Blair's first government, he was the extraordinarily obedient Defence Secretary presiding over the Iraq war. In March 2002 he said on ITV's Jonathan Dimbleby show that "the government reserved the right to use nuclear weapons" while, in 2004, he argued that "mothers of Iraqi children killed by cluster bombs would 'one day' thank Britain for their use". He certainly should -thank Britain- as he claimed thousands of pounds to redecorate his second home.
John Hutton. In March 2008, just as the economic crisis was beginning to nibble and the nation's patience with mental City bonuses was running thin, the faithful perma-minister declared that Britain needs more millionaires and that high salaries should be "celebrated". It was probably in that spirit that he "used his office expenses to pay for a degree studied by a member of his staff" and "claimed £1,340 a month in interest on the mortgage of his house in west London".
Caroline Flint. In February 2008, while Minister for Housing and Planning, she finally garnered Britain's attention as she warned the nation that "if you want a council house [you should] find a job" and told the Guardian "that unemployed tenants should also undertake skills audits".
While she was lecturing scroungers on rights and responsibility, she "used her parliamentary expenses to pay for solicitors' fees and stamp duty when she bought a new flat".
James Purnell. Known to the public for his sideburns, this champion of the working class has so far been busy with his Welfare Reform Bill, aimed at "getting tough with benefit cheats". Toying with the idea of lying detectors for benefit claimants, he warned that "there should be no free-riding". Until he was caught, of course, using taxpayers' money to purchase fridge magnets, digital cameras and, according to some papers, he "submitted rent claims of up to £2,020 each month – yet bank records prove that he paid only £910 every month".
Hazel Blears. Famous for her spectacular 12-year-old record of obedience to her political masters, her public claims that "immigration fuels tension", raised an eyebrow or two. Elsewhere, she reiterated in an interview that she'd "never come to a point when she disagreed" with her government, not even when it supported brutal dictatorships like in Uzbekistan. While all that happened, she dodged capital gains on the sale of her second home and had to repay £13,000.
These are the Labour MPs and Cabinet members who, between 1997 and now, have been toiling away for you working people.