Hello Mandy!

So the reshuffle did happen today after all – and as I predicted below, it wasn’t big. Neither Alistair Darling, David Miliband nor Alan Johnson got moved – all too sensitive. Jim Murphy hasn’t been promoted, as I thought. And James Purnell is staying put. So far, so predictable.

But Peter Mandelson! That caught the lobby correspondents off balance. Nick Robinson is “gobsmacked“, Sam Coates didn’t see it coming, and Michael White is “astonished“.

Interestingly, the man he replaces is business secretary John Hutton. On Mandelson, a Cabinet minister told Robinson: “He’s New Labour to his core, pro-business and tough on the unions. It will light a blue touch-paper under the government”. Er, people said the same things about John Hutton.

The unions won’t be pleased. They hated Hutton, but Mandy isn’t much better for them. I may have been wrong about Hutton not going, but his replacement is more of the same. The Brownite-Blairite divide remains. And since Brown was apparently too weak to move against the Blairites, Brown seems to have tried to make the most of it by appointing a man of experience and talent – and who is as responsible for New Labour as Brown is.

Meanwhile, I’m itching to know about Caroline Flint, whose demise I predicted. Benedict Brogan at the Mail and Jim Pickard at the FT are saying Margaret Beckett has returned as housing minister. Has she got Flint’s job? We shall see…

Update, 18:15 Friday 3 October: Jim Murphy has been promoted from Europe minister to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, while Margaret Becket has replaced Caroline Flint as housing minister. I was wrong on the first count and right on the second. But Murphy’s ‘promotion’ is to a job which is, of course, much reduced in these devolved days. So it’s less of a surprise; nobody expected Murphy to get the boot.

The difference between Murphy and Flint is that Flin, by all accounts, wanted to go. Not one Blairite has suffered from this reshuffle, despite one – Murphy – being a plotter by all accounts. Whatever Brown’s reshuffle says about Brown, it does not say he is strong. The flip side is that Blairites and Brownites may be prepared to unite under him.

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One Response to “Hello Mandy!”

  1. Enoch Was Right Says:

    Well done with some of the predictions. I think Defence was the only job Hutton would have taken. But I assume you mean Secretary of State for Scotland not Work and Pensions as the rest of your post implies it.

    When will someone have the courage to get rid of these ridiculous offices which have less importance post devolution. I gather that Team Brown did not realise it would take legislation. Shades of Blair circa 2003???

    Mandy’s return is unexpected but it has not been entirely off the cards. I got a hint of it a few weeks ago but dismissed it as fantasy/nightmare stuff. I love the Guardian headline “Business enthusiastic for Mandelson”, you might as well right “Bloodsuckers enthusiastic for blood transfusion units.” Both give what is wanted.

    If I were Barroso (which I am not), I would be furious. Baroness who?

    The cabinet (including those who attend) is looking rather large these days (better pissing out than in). I note that (according to the Guardian anyway) that Liam Byrne is just attending Cabinet as “enforcer” but is not technically a cabinet meeting. It a bit late to say it but it’s worth a cull…

    Since Brown become PM alongside various revamped departments (BERR et al), there have been the creation of two (I think) departments Innovation & Skills, and now Engergy & Climate Change. Can we have a sweepstake on the next new department. The Most obvious would be a Department for the Nation/Regions/Arse End of Somewhere but the Spectator’s money is on Veteran Affairs. I wonder whether the Department for Economic Affairs will much a much-anticipated comeback in these troubled times…

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