Gordon's First Cabinet
My view on Gordon’s Cabinet members, as they’re announced.
|Chancellor||Alistair Darling||A shoo-in for the role, he’ll be a safe pair of hands, friendly to the Chancellor.|
|Foreign Secretary||David Miliband||A bit of a surprise. It’ll be spun as giving the rising star one of the great ‘offices of state’, but you only have to look at the low profile of Margaret Beckett in the past year to see he’s being slightly sidelined from Gordon’s priorities.|
|Home Secretary||Jacqui Smith||The big surprise. The former Chief Whip gets a massive promotion. The first female Home Secretary and her gender may have played a big part in the decision. She’s not run a department before, so not sure what Brown’s up to here.|
|Health Secretary||Alan Johnson||A poisoned chalice, but at least he’ll be more popular with the public – and probably health professionals – than Patricia Hewitt|
|Education Secretary||Ed Balls||Gordon Brown’s “representative on Earth”. Not a great surprise, but presumably a step on the ladder to Chancellor.|
|Universities, Skills and Innovation||John Denham||A return for the able former minister who resigned over Iraq. I’m not convinced that splitting Universities from the Education Department was a good idea.|
|Environment||Hilary Benn||He might have hoped for something better than this if he’d done better in the Deputy Leadership campaign. Well-liked, but should have done better.|
|Business and Enterprise||John Hutton||Essentially the Department of Trade and Industry. A safe, but ultimately quite dull, pair of hands.|
|Communities||Hazel Blears||The ‘chipmunk’ is popular in Conservative circles, simply because she’s such a liability. Personally, I can’t stand her, so this fairly insignificant role is fine by me.|
|Transport||Ruth Kelly||The Opus Dei member can’t cause much damage from here. Low-key.|
|Treasury||Andy Burnham||A second Treasury role in the Cabinet. Another rising star.|
|Work and Pensions & Wales||Peter Hain||Lucky to still be in the Cabinet after a poor performance in the Deputy Leadership campaign, and a general sense of incompetence whenever he’s on TV.|
|Northern Ireland||Shaun Woodward||A major surprise. A big jump to go from Minister for Digital Switchover to Secretary of State for N.I. A chequered past – there’ll be plenty of headlines about the former Tory.|
|Culture, Media and Sport||James Purnell||No surprise at all, really. He’s worked in the department before and is a rising star.|
|International Development||Douglas Alexander||Good friends with David Miliband, who he’ll have to work with at the Foreign Office. Perhaps he could have claimed a bigger department, but he’s also the party’s general election coordinator (in his spare time!)|
|Defence & Scotland||Des Browne||Perhaps the only bit of continuity in Gordon’s cabinet. Not sure if the armed forces will be pleased or not!|
|Justice||Jack Straw||Jack loves his constitutional reform, and he’ll get to manage it from here.|
|Chief Whip||Geoff Hoon||An interesting return for Geoff Buffoon. An important enforcer role within government – he probably won’t be turning up on the chat shows.|
|Commons Leader||Harriet Harman||Giving her three jobs is a strange decision, but it means that her salary will come from the Government, not the Labour Party, which might be significant given their financial woes. I assume she won’t be trusted with House of Lords reform (you can bet she’d cock it up) so Jack Straw will probably take this bit of the role with him.|
|Cabinet Office||Ed Miliband||Well-regarded Brownite, likely to take charge of Gordon’s special cross-government projects.|
|Lords Leader||Baroness Ashton||Never heard of her.|
|Attorney General||Baroness Scotland||Or her.|
Waiting nervously to hear their fate…
Yvette Cooper, John Denham, Tessa Jowell
12:20 Blair steals the limelight after all
Tony’s been busy. As well as resigning as an MP, he’s found time to talk to the police again about the Cash for Honours inquiry.
11:54 The winner takes
it all little
An anonymous contributor to Iain Dale’s blog makes a good point: “It strikes me that it may be better to lose a labour deputy leadership campaign than it is to win it.”
Traditionally there’s a couple of Lords in the Cabinet. Who will they be? I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of them wasn’t a Labour card-carrier. Incidentally, Peter Hain apparently keeps the Wales brief. Lucky them. Not.
Tessa Jowell will – according to the BBC – remain in government, but not in the cabinet. Will Gordon give her a role managing the Olympics or casinos, or move her elsewhere?
11:30 Jobs for the Boys?
As a footnote, does Gordon Brown’s cabinet send out a message about his relationship with women? He seems to have put his male friends (and potential rivals) in some of the big jobs very easily, and the women (with the possible exception of Home Sec) seem to be filling in the gaps a bit.