He doesn't say if the Prime Minister gave a reason for his dismissal, but there has indeed been a perception that his blog has, on the odd occasion, strayed over the edge. Could it have been THIS blogpost on David Cairns that did it?
There is of course another, more machiavellian explanation. Mandelson was brought back to appease the Blairites - a high profile appointment which would be seen as very inclusive. But as the media concentrated on that, the new Chief Whip, Nick Brown, made his move against the remaining Blairites in the lower ranks. He wants to start as he means to go on. Although outwardly loyal to Brown, Tom Harris has made his Blairite sympathies fairly clear and that may well have done for him. Let's see if any other Blairite junior Ministers have been made to walk the plank to the backbenches with Tom.
The only other reason for his sacking can have been incompetence, and that certainly doesn't apply in Tom's case. THIS comment on his blog chimes with other feedback I have had, that he was one of the more competent transport ministers in recent years. His correspondent says...
I’m not a Labour supporter and I won’t be voting Labour at the next election. However, I know that most politicians of any political persuasion genuinely want to do their best to help their constituents and the people of the UK. You exemplify this.Perhaps Nadine was right, when she said at the Tory Conference, that it is impossible to be an MP and to blog without consequences. As my friend Shane Greer continually points out, perception is more important than reality in politics, and if people perceive you as a maverick, or a trouble maker, you will never climb the greasy pole. Nadine is seriously contemplating abandoning her blog. Tom, on the other hand, will have more time for his. I wish it were not so.
You have, from all the evidence available to me, been a conscienscious and hard-working Minister. You’ve handled a difficult portfolio extremely well and have built up a lot of respect on a personal level within the rail industry. I am sure that the industry’s journals will decry your treatment for weeks to come.
You have been courteous to and respectful of your officials. You ask intelligent questions at the right time and you have a remarkable talent to sense when you are being “fed a line”, be it by officials or by industry figures.
Your blog has opened up the political process to the average citizen more than any other. While Iain Dale and Guido write superb blogs, they don’t have the perspective that you do.
More than a few people have asked me over the years if I thought my blog is harming my political prospects. I would like to think not, but if I am honest I am sure it has created more than a few enemies I otherwise would not have had. So be it. People in politics cannot go round constantly thinking about the effects of every word they write or utter. That way lies stultifying boredom and political mediocrity. If the only way to get on is to grease up to your party's political establishment and parrot a party line at every opportunity then it is clear that it is pointless having a blog. Not only would it be pointless writing one, but no one would bother reading it.
I wouldn't blame Tom Harris for feeling rather angry today. It's a pity he hates football - a visit to Parkhead for a bit of shouting might do him good. When I was excluded from the first tranche of the 'A' List I don't mind admitting that I felt a bit angry too. I didn't write this at the time, but I knew why it had happened. I knew that someone who I had written something disobliging about in a newspaper column had exacted revenge and put the black spot on me. But instead of letting my anger win, I managed to exact something positive out of a potentially very damaging negative.
I hope that Tom manages to do the same.