The final pieces of the reshuffle jigsaw. These came through just a minute ago:
© The Financial Times Ltd 2014 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
Fortunately I’m off on a long weekend, racing up the M1 away from all the action in Westminster. But I couldn’t resist some parting thoughts.
- The resurrection of Mandelson is a reminder of Gordon Brown’s strengths. The prime minister is skilled at surprise, set-piece attacks. Think back to the Bank of England independence move, his first few weeks at No 10, his first cabinet, and a few of his early Budgets. All this of course highlights how poor and leaden he is at defence – an arguably more important skill for a prime minister.
Faces from the very early days of New Labour are now back to the fore. Nick Brown returning to the post of chief whip. Peter Mandelson in the post of business secretary once again. Margaret Beckett as housing minister (I can reveal). Even Derek Draper is knocking around Labour headquarters once again.
No doubt it’s meant to represent solidarity – and silence Blairite critics within the government. But to the public, it may smack of retreat.
Alastair Campbell’s diaries have numerous references to Gordon Brown’s dislike of Peter Mandelson and vice-versa:
“TB (Tony Blair) also spoke to Peter M and said he wanted him to meet GB tonight and sort a few things out. He said if they did not work together he would have to take drastic action, because he was not prepared to let them bring the whole show down.”
We have heard on good authority that Damian McBride, the prime minister’s controversial press adviser, will now be taking a back seat. He will remain at No 10 and continue to advise the PM.
But the official spin doctor job is going to Justin Forsyth, special adviser to the PM on international development. Forsyth is an expert on poverty, having previously been campaign and policy director for Oxfam. Incidentally he is said to be a very nice fellow. Not sure he has much experience of dealing with Fleet Street though.
|About this blog||Blog guide|