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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson

Date of birth

17 May 1950

Political profile

Only seven years after entering parliament, Alan Johnson has entered the cabinet as Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, following the surprise resignation of Andrew Smith.

He has previously been a junior minister at the Department for Education & Skills, where he helped pilot the contentious Higher Education Bill through the Commons in early 2004.

When Alan Johnson entered the Commons as John Prescott's constituency neighbour in 1997, he was already a senior figure in the Labour Party.

He was a member of the National Executive and he had been General Secretary of the Communication Workers' Union, a post he had risen to having started his career as a postman.

He had been selected for the safe seat just three weeks before the election when the incumbent stepped down at short notice.

He was tipped for early promotion, since his Blairite credentials were well established - he had been the only senior trade unionist to support the revision of Labour's Clause IV, which had welded the party to the principle of public ownership.

After a brief stint as parliamentary private secretary to Dawn Primarolo, he was appointed to a junior ministerial role at the Department of Trade and Industry.

He steered the Postal Services Act through its Commons stages.

After the 2001 election, he became a Minister of State in the same department, with responsibility for employment relations.

He is regarded by Downing Street as an ideal go-between to manage the government's links with the unions.

A committed moderniser, he is also a supporter of proportional representation for Westminster.

But the June 2003 reshuffle saw him take up a completely new brief as higher education minister.

Contact

020 7219 6637

childsh@parliament.uk

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