Monday, April 10, 2006

Gordon's Cabinet

Some interesting speculation today from Tim Hames about who Gordon Brown will appoint to his Cabinet, assuming of course he emerges victorious over uber-Blairite challenger Alan Milburn.

Hames's ingenious suggestion is that Brown should appoint people he doesn't really get on with to the main offices of state in order to demonstrate that he is not the control freak everyone thinks he is.

Hence in Tim's fantasy line-up, Jack Straw gets to be Chancellor and John Reid Foreign Secretary, while Charles Clarke hangs onto the Home Office.

It might be good politics on Brown's part - but surely somewhat implausible in view of the Brownite - Blairite tensions and what will be Brown's understandable desire to put his own stamp on Government.

I do however agree with Hames that Brown will not make the mistake of making his closest ally, Alistair Darling, Chancellor in that it is important for the markets to know that the Chancellor is his own man. Or woman...

Here, for the record - and also because it's a bit of fun - is what I reckon Prime Minister Gordy might do:

Prime Minister: Gordon Brown
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Secretary: Hilary Benn
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Patricia Hewitt
Foreign Secretary: Alistair Darling
Leader of the House of Commons: Charles Clarke
Constitutional Affairs Secretary: Peter Hain
Lord Chancellor: Baroness (Harriet) Harman
Party Chairman: Alan Johnson
Education Secretary: David Miliband
Health Secretary: Yvette Cooper
Defence Secretary: John Reid
Work and Pensions Secretary: Ruth Kelly
Environment Secretary: Stephen Timms
Transport Secretary: Des Browne
Trade and Industry Secretary: Douglas Alexander
Culture Secretary: Dawn Primarolo
Leader of the Lords: Lord Kinnock
Communities and Local Government Secretary: Hazel Blears
International Development Secretary: John Denham
Chief Secretary to the Treasury: John Healey
Chief Whip: Nick Brown

I'm not going to go through each choice one-by-one explaining my rationale but I for one reckon this line-up is considerably more dynamic than the existing one, which I suspect will be Brown's main intention in seeking to maintain continuity while at the same time giving the appearance of a new government.

Of the 11 casualties, seven would be voluntary retirements (Blair, Prescott, Straw, Beckett, Armstrong, McCartney, Amos) while four would be sackings (Falconer, Hoon, Jowell, Hutton.)

Reid would keep his job, both as a unifying gesture to the ultra-Blairites (likewise Miliband, Blears) and because he's simply the best Labour defence secretary available. The return of Denham would be designed to draw a clear line under the Iraq War.

In terms of machinery changes, the Wales and Northern Ireland offices would become part of the DCA (as originally planned by Blair,) while the ODPM would be renamed Local Government and Communities.


skipper said...

Like your list Paul but it occurs to me Miliband might well be given the Education job in a reeshuffle wqhich cannot be delayed all that much longer. Same goes for some of your other picks. Of course, an incoming Gordon could decide to leave them where they are, so this point does not invalidate your your predictions.

Turbulent Cleric said...

No job for Blunkett?

Richard Bailey said...

Clinging onto Blairites would be a real cop out and a show of insecurity. I like ruthless clean sweeps and strength albeit I really don't like the thought of being governed by that lot.
I take it Scotland would join Wales etc?
I am absolutely not having a go, Paul, but I do love those "return of Denham would draw a line under Iraq" ideas, as if anyone beyond Westminster cares. It wasn't until I left Westminster that I realised that normal electors just find such games as thoroughly vain and pointless.
The only thing that draws a line under Iraq is the withdrawal of troops.

Paul Linford said...

Skipper - Agree Miliband could figure strongly in next reshuffle but my list basically assumes a Gordon takeover no later than May 2, 2007, so anyone who gets moved to a new job between now and then will probably stay in it.

Cleric - Blunkett would probably have been Brown's main challenger had he not got mixed up with Kimberely Quinn but I think his frontline career is over now and Brown will be under no great compulsion to bring him back

Richard - yes, my expectation is that the Lord Chancellor's role will be de-coupled from the DCA, with the latter becoming a kind of "Lord of the Isles" in charge of all devolved institutions, together with Lords reform and possibly electoral reform.

Interesting point about whether the public takes any notice of symbolic political gestures like bringing back ministers who resigned over certain issues in order to draw a line under them. My guess is that, for those who oppposed the war, the return of Denham would be seen as a positive and inclusive gesture. I did consider whether he might also bring back Clare Short, but I think he would probably take the view that it would be too divisive in view of the personal nature of her attacks on Blair.

skipper said...

Afterthought of mine is that it would be nice, and appropriate maybe too, for Neil Kinnock to come back in some form. His talents have not been used at home and the true credit due to him for dragging his party out of the unelectable category has never been accorded. I always hope- as I knew him vaguely during the eighties and like him - that he will learn to curb his waffly expository style but he continues to give credence to the 'Welsh Windbag label and to Tebbitt's cruel jibe that his 'muddled talk reflects his muddled thinking'.

Paul Linford said...

It's a travesty that Kinnock never got the chance to serve in a Labour Cabinet, and I can think of no good reason why Gordon would not want to put this right. It would recognise the part he played in the creation of New Labour but would also be widely welcomed by Old Labour - the perfect unifying gesture.

dan said...

no place for ed balls?