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The BBC's John Pienaar
"We have seen a growing sense of resentment amongst ministers who felt they were not getting the rate for the job"
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Liberal Democrats Chairman, Malcolm Bruce
"If Tony Blair was worth the rate for the job, why didn't he acknowledge it in the begining?"
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Monday, 11 June, 2001, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
Blair settles some old scores
New solicitor general Harriet Harman
Harman comes back from the wilderness
By BBC News Online political correspondent Nick Assinder

Tony Blair has used his post-election reshuffle to pay off a few debts, settle a few scores - and hand ministers and himself a whopping pay rise.

The prime minister lost no time in exerting his new-found power by launching one of the most comprehensive set of cabinet changes seen for years.

He brought back loyalists who had been consigned to the political wilderness for the past few years, including Harriet Harman and Alun Michael.

He even gave his long-serving and un-elected political secretary Sally Morgan a seat in the Lords and the job as minister of state in the cabinet office.

Former minister Keith Vaz
Vaz was bound to go
And he finally sacked those ministers, like Keith Vaz and Kate Hoey, who had been causing him embarrassment.

He also cleared out the whips' office of all of the remaining old Labourites.

And, finally, he announced he would be taking an increased salary of 163,418 compared to the 116,339 he has drawn until now.

Cabinet ministers will see their pay packet rise from 99,793 to 117,979 a year.

Failed to shine

His series of highly controversial moves started with the rehabilitation of former minister Harriet Harman, who becomes solicitor general.

Ms Harman was sacked in 1999 after becoming embroiled in controversy over her decision to send her children to a selective, grant-maintained school.

Mr Blair attempted to weather backbench fury over her move, but finally gave way after she also failed to shine as a minister.

The fact that he sent his own children to selective schools complicated matters - and he was determined to bring Ms Harman back when he felt he could get away with it.

He followed that appointment by giving former Welsh First Minister Alun Michael the job of environment minister.

New rural affairs minister Alun Michael
Michael gets junior role
Mr Michael had, it was said, been foisted on Wales by Mr Blair during a hugely-controversial selection procedure.

He later stepped down ahead of a no confidence vote.

Mr Blair has now repaid that debt as well.

Only the defeated candidate for London mayor, Frank Dobson, appears to have been overlooked.

Weilding the knife

Meanwhile, the man who ousted Tory Michael Portillo in 1997, Stephen Twigg, was rewarded with a junior job in the office of new Commons leader Robin Cook.

The prime minister also once again proved that he is not frightened of wielding the knife.

Prime Minister Tony Blair
Blair opened the purse strings
In a breathtaking move to consolidate his position, he sacked 22 ministers, many from the old Labour wing of the party.

Out went the likes of Joyce Quinn, Kate Hoey, Janet Anderson and her partner Jim Dowd and even Tory turncoat Alan Howarth.

And then, in a move immediately branded by Tories as a sign of arrogance, he announced an end to the pay freeze on ministerial pay.

This was a reshuffle carried out by a man who clearly feels supremely confident about his own position and who is determined to use every ounce of the power he has been handed by the electorate.

It followed his wide ranging reshuffle of the most senior cabinet jobs and completes his transformation of the government into a full-blooded Blairite machine.

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11 Jun 01 | Vote2001
Vaz out, Harman in
11 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Vaz inquiry widens
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