It seems the hand over of power has taken years, but at last it has happened. And it is clear that Gordon Brown is determined to make an immdeiate impact. This is a new administration.
His first act was to limit the power of politicial appointees. Tony Blair had given his political aides, Jonathan Powell and Alistair Campbell, authority over civil servants, a significant departure from the accepted separation of politics and administration. Gordon has stopped that. This signals a much more formal approach to the workings of Downing Street and Cabinet. Has Gordon been reading the Liverpool MPA Blog? Is our influence growing? Alas, it is more likely that he has read the Butler Report.
His Cabinet reshuffle then took a very particular form. The list of names included some intersting choices. John Denham resigned over Iraq but is now back. David Miliband’s meteoric rise continues, despite his dissenting viewson some of the key issues of recent years. Was there a deal made to dissuade him from standing against Gordon? But, aside from the names and the changes to the structure of Whitehall, there was one more interesting feature. Those who have left the Cabinet were offered the opportunity to fall on their own sword and resign first. And it was all done in the House of Commons, rather than in the full glare of the Downing Street political correspondents and the cameras. There is a degree of consideration evident here that is rarely seen in the political world.
Next, and after some significant speeches and briefings, the centrality of constitutional reform is clear. A second Cabinet meeting today will discuss this alone. The next few months will be interesting times for students of public administration in the UK.
One final remark. As Gordon moves in, three more soldiers died in Iraq – two from in or near Gordon’s own constituency. Will Gordon meet the relatives of some of those who have died in Iraq? Now, that really would be a new administration.