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Reshuffle sets up two camps

Prime Minister Tony Blair’s post-election reshuffle has seen a consolidation of Brownites at the Treasury with the top Department for Work and Pensions posts filled by Blair supporters.

Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson says there are now two distinct camps, with a Blairite DWP and Brownite Treasury as Blair tries to set up a legacy of pensions and benefit reform.

Anderson says the reformers in the DWP – led by new Secretary of State David Blunkett – will have to deal with a greatly reduced majority as well as opposition from Brown’s Treasury when pushing ahead with whatever is proposed in the Turner report.

Heavyweight Blunkett has been quick to pile into the debate on compulsion, saying there will be no solution off limits, in contrast to previous hints from Brown ally Ed Balls that any legislation would have to wait until a fourth term.

Scottish Equitable pension development director Stewart Ritchie says the shadow of Gordon Brown has lurked behind pensions since 1997 and it remains to be seen whether this will change with Blunkett’s appointment.

In other moves, Blun-kett’s predecessor Alan Johnson now heads the newly created Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry, which replaces the Department of Trade and Industry, whose former Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt becomes Health Secretary. Des Browne takes over the post of Treasury Chief Secretary and Stephen Timms moves from Financial Secretary to the Treasury to pensions minister, with Brownite John Healey taking his job at the Treasury.

Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson says: “There is now a very Blairite DWP and very Brownite Treasury. The DWP will be seeking to push ahead with reforms and it will be very interesting to see how this relationship develops.”

Michael Philips proprietor Michael Both says: “Blunkett has an authority that his predecessors lacked. It remains to be seen whether he will be genuinely helpful or just use his position to bash the industry.”


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