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Thursday, November 11, 1999 Published at 09:52 GMT

UK Politics

Mowlam: 'I'm fed up'

Peter Mandelson replaced Mo Mowlam as Northern Ireland secretary

Mo Mowlam is reported to regard her new job as Cabinet Office Minister as "meaningless" and says she feels stitched up.

An article in The Mirror quotes anonymous friends of the former Northern Ireland secretary who paint a depressing picture of life for one of Britain's best-known ministers.

"She fears she has been stitched up," one friend told the tabloid. "She believes her career has stalled."

Dr Mowlam complains her new role is "meaningless" and wastes her time in endless meetings.

An unnamed minister is quoted saying: "She accepted her time in Ulster was coming to and end but she wanted a proper hands-on job.

"She's very down about what she was given by Tony Blair and how it has worked out.

"She doesn't see it as a job with influence. She spends most of her time sitting on cabinet committees to little effect."

Dr Mowlam replaced Jack Cunningham as Cabinet Office Minister in Tony Blair's reshuffle last month. Her job is to co-ordinate government policy across departments.

Mr Cunningham equally used the post to argue for government policies in radio and television interviews - earning himself the mock title "minister for the Today programme" as a result.

In contrast, Dr Mowlam has not appeared on the BBC Radio 4 flagship show since she left the Northern Ireland Office.

Speculation that the prime minister might replace her as Northern Ireland secretary had plagued Dr Mowlam since the July reshuffle, when she clung on to the job despite unionist opposition to her.

But months later, Mr Blair decided to bring back former trade secretary Peter Mandelson to government and gave him the posting.

Pundits had predicted Dr Mowlam would become health secretary in the reshuffle, but that job went to Alan Milburn instead.

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