Friday, June 29, 2007

an impressive shuffle

Early thoughts on the cabinet reshuffle - I'm wary of seeming too enthusiastic at this point as I know we've been disappointed before, but:

- I think it looks great. A proper, careful reconstruction of the cabinet along serious, sensible lines, and some great appointments.
- Delighted with Miliband at the FO, as he's not implicated in prior foreign policy decisions and appears to have a thoughtful, practical approach and a real interest in what he describes as patient diplomacy. A good position in which to establish himself, and much better than Beckett. I would have liked to have seen Straw back in a way, but he has too much previous, I think, and Miliband is certainly a better bet than Benn, who I feared might get this.
- Jacqui Smith as Home Secretary is a welcome bolt from the blue. Hopefully she'll be an antidote to the macho posturing we've had from the likes of Blunkett and Reid. Again, I would have liked Straw (because of his opposition to ID cards) but I'm more than happy with this. I think a lot depends on how the likes of the Daily Mail treat her, as they're usually unbearable to Labour women, but her time as Chief Whip suggests she's got the necessary toughness to see them off.
- I'm not a great fan of Hilary Benn, but I suspect he'll do a good job at Environment.
- Great appointments at International Development (Douglas Alexander) and, particularly, at the post of Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN. Mark Malloch Brown is an independent thinker and a sign too that Gordon Brown is thinking big. Excellent. Good to see John Denham, a man of principles, back too.
- Happy that Des Browne has kept his job at Defence, too - he was heavily criticised over the Iran Hostage crisis but I thought he handled himself well and did a good job of making sure that crisis didn't escalate.
- I'm not an Alan Johnson fan, particularly, but I think he'll do well with health. I'm a little concerned by Ruth Kelly at transport, just because she's never much impressed me. I thought Peter Hain was unluckly to lose Northern Ireland, but I'm glad he was promoted. I'm bewildered to see Hazel Blears as community secretary, I have to say.
- I'm a big fan of Ed Balls and Ed Miliband so delighted to see them at Cabinet Office secretary and Children, Schools and Families respectively.
- Likewise Yvette Cooper, who was excellent on Question Time last night, will make a fine housing minister, although I wanted Cruddas to get this. He's been unlucky not to get a cabinet job, although I wonder at the rumours that he may have turned one down. Perhaps he fancies himself as a new backbench leader of the left?

Anyway, I particularly liked the lack of sparkle, ceremony or show. I've hardly seen Brown since he became PM. What a refreshing change. I almost feel like a proper Labour voter again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Despite not being a big Brown fan, National Insurance is an income tax is far as I'm concerned, I have to second pretty much everything you've said. I am delighted with Miliband at the FCO. I'm might be more right leaning than you but he strikes me as the sort of person who will take care not to rub people up the wrong way and push them into corners. I'm suspicious of Yvette Cooper however - mostly because I believe she's married to Ed Balls and not knowing much about her it kinda smells of nepotism. I will admit I am a bit of a John Reid fan so I am a bit disappointed to see him not back in the cabinet, although I'm not sure where he would fit in. I could see him going off pastures new soonish, NATO perhaps?