I wouldn't say it is uncommon, but in all these -- the books get written about ministers briefing against each other at reshuffle time. It is absolutely true that when we came to write stories about who was going to be in the Cabinet our sources would be other ministers and our sources would be the whips who knew whether a young junior minister was doing well or not. They would keep a record of how well they were doing.
But the way existing ministers were performing in their departments would be commented upon privately by senior civil servants, in a gossipy kind of way, but in a way that put out into the ether that a certain minister wasn't doing a great job or a certain minister was absolutely brilliantly on top of his brief.
Sometimes I don't think it has been recognised that that is another part of the political world that has an interest in telling us how people are doing.