Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gordon goes for youth

Gordon's first enforced reshuffle is now almost complete and it is clear he won't be doing either of the things that I urged in my previous post - abolishing the almost-meaningless post of Welsh Secretary along with the other territorial posts, and bringing back a heavyweight from the Blair years to bolster his flagging administration.

Instead, he seems to have taken the opportunity to underline one of the key themes that marked his first attempt at Cabinet-making last July - that we are now in the throes of the transition from one Labour generation to the next.

James Purnell, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, the three main beneficiaries of today's changes, are all in their 30s. All have been spoken about at one time or another as potential leaders of the party, and to paraphrase Tony Blair, clearly they are the future now.

Brown had the opportunity to bring back Alan Milburn, or David Blunkett, or Charles Clarke, and he passed on it. It means they are almost certainly now not returning to the Cabinet table.

I know very little about Andy Burnham, and I am indifferent to the charms of James Purnell, but Yvette Cooper is someone I have always rated highly. Regular readers of this blog will know that I regard her as the premier politician in the Balls household, and the likeliest to make it to the top of the greasy pole.

It is reasonably well-known that Blair spitefully delayed her promotion to the Cabinet as a way of getting back at Ed Balls, but what is less well-known is that her early career in government was hampereed by chronic fatigue syndrome. To successfully come back from that is no mean feat in itself.

The predictable choice of 59-year-old retread Paul Murphy to the Welsh Office appears to fly in the face of the accent on youth, but it just may be the case that this is intended to be a relatively short-term appointment.

I still believe that a restructuring of the territorial posts into a "Department for Devolution" is on the cards at some point, if only for the reason that the current situation is pretty indefensible.

A couple of other aspects of the reshuffle have thus far passed relatively unnoticed, so I shall briefly mention them. Stephen Timms, a member of the Blair Cabinet who was unaccountably excluded by Brown, returns in Caroline Flint's old role of Pensions Minister.

And finally....there's a new role in the Cabinet Office for blogger Tom Watson, the man who once said he would never return to government, although it later became clear he was taking the michael.

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8 comments:

Tom Griffin said...

"The predictable choice of 59-year-old retread Paul Murphy to the Welsh Office appears to fly in the face of the accent on youth, but it just may be the case that this is intended to be a relatively short-term appointment."

It might be a logical move if Brown is waiting for the devolution of policing in Northern Ireland.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

delayed her promotion to the Cabinet as a way of getting back at Ed Balls

I have been wondering about Balls - his meteoric rise seems to have spluttered a little.

lettersfromatory said...

As I was saying on my blog this morning, Gordon Brown's obsession with very inexperienced ministers has caused him a lot of misery so far - he cannot just surround himself with politically naive individuals, regardless of how much 'potential' they have.

timbob said...

So no comback for Alan Milburn or Steve Byers...I wonder if they'll stand again at the next election??

Paul Linford said...

Interesting question timbob.

Byers seems to quite enjoy being a backbench thinker, but I suspect Milburn still harbours ministerial ambitions. He is, of course, still young enough to become leader, or to serve in a senior role under another leader, so the fact that Brown appears to have barred the way back for him need not necessarily be terminal to his career.

Snafu said...

"Heavyweights from the Blair years"!?!

I didn't realise Tony Blair had any!

PS Anyone with Stalinist tendencies will surround themselves with lightweights...

Anonymous said...

Read all abouyt it. Mr Fawkes has been found out as a tyory party stooge. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/politics/threelinewhip/jan08/whoisguidoworkingfor.htm

He left the tory party disclaimer on this email banged to wrties.

Anonymous said...

It is no on the mirror and the telegrpah Guido a is secret stooge of tory party HQ He has been found out due to a letter he sent which had a tory party legal disclaimer on it. Guido is Tory party black op.

http://maguire.mirror.co.uk/2008/01/has-guided-fawkes-outed-himsel.html

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/politics/threelinewhip/jan08/whoisguidoworkingfor.htm