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Odd couple was a blunder

The New Labour administration’s first welfare ministerial team was a “dating agency from hell mistake”.

Tony Blair admits the pairing of Harriet Harman as Social Security Secretary and Frank Field as welfare minister was a “severe mismatch”.

He writes: ” Harriet was not really a policy wonk and this portfolio required a lot of wonkery.

“Frank was not really politically astute and it required a lot of political astuteness. Frank used to lock himself away in his office to ’think the unthinkable’ but the problem was not so much that his thoughts were unthinkable as unfathomable

“They would sit in the Cabinet Committee disagreeing with each other, which was more than mildly disconcerting. The upshot was that we tried to steer policy out of Number 10, but it was hard. And, of course the policy area itself was incredibly hard. The results were less than satisfactory.”

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