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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2007, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
What to make of Brown's Cabinet?
Analysis
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

Gordon Brown wanted his new Cabinet to shriek the words "new" and "change" at the country and, to use his own words, he has certainly done his utmost to achieve that.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown has re-shaped his cabinet

The first woman home secretary in the shape of Jacqueline Smith will lead the fight against crime and ticks two boxes - young and female.

The appointment of 41-year-old David Miliband as the youngest foreign secretary since David Owen in the 1970s sends a message of change in the government's tone on foreign affairs.

He is widely thought to have been sceptical about the Iraq war (although he voted for it) and the UK's attitude to events in Lebanon last year.

That is backed up by the appointment of former UN diplomat Lord Malloch Brown as a foreign office minister.

He was highly critical of President Bush and the Iraq war and also represents the first example on Mr Brown living up to his pledge to form a government of "all the talents".

Meanwhile, John Denham, who quit his frontbench job over the war has been brought into the Cabinet in a clear sign that Mr Brown does not hold his resignation from Tony Blair's ministerial team against him.

Fewer women

The promotion of Mr Brown's right hand man Ed Balls comes as no surprise but also helps add youth to the frontbench as does the appointment of his wife, Yvette Cooper as housing minister who can attend cabinet.

Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband joins his brother in cabinet
Another dynasty-in-the-making has seen the new foreign secretary's brother, Ed Miliband - also a close aide of Mr Brown's - given a ministerial job further reducing the average age of the Cabinet.

Despite the promotion of Jacqui Smith and Baroness Scotland as attorney general, the Cabinet has lost Margaret Beckett, Patricia Hewitt, Hilary Armstrong and Baroness Amos.

It all means there are fewer women in the Cabinet than under Tony Blair, five compared to eight, but there are more in the lower ranks.

There were a number of other newish faces in senior jobs, Andy Burnham and James Purnell in particular have been given Cabinet posts.

Others have been re-shuffled in a more traditional sense - simply being moved from one post to another. And, as expected, there were senior jobs for his ally Alistair Darling and trusted deputy leadership contender Alan Johnson, a key Blairite.

New departments

The other significant change the prime minister has made, and which he intends to send out the message of newness and change, is in the so-called machinery of government.

Alan Johnson
Mr Johnson is trusted pair of hands
He has split up old departments of trade and education and created new departments for children, schools and families; for business, enterprise and regulatory reform; and for innovation, universities and skills.

The aim is to indicate where he believes the priorities lie in each of those areas but, as critics have already suggested, it is still not known what any of that will mean in practice.

What is certainly the case is that, as the new Cabinet filed into Downing Street for their first meeting under the new prime minister, it looked like a radically different team.

That is partly because of the big names who have gone - John Prescott, Margaret Beckett, John Reid and, in one sense, Gordon Brown himself.

But it was also a result of the promotions of key, youthful Brownites (and they are all Brownites now) to the most senior jobs.

It is may well be the case that there will be bigger surprises to come when Mr Brown announces the "other ranks" on Friday.

It is there that he is expected to implement his promise to go beyond party politics to include "all the talents".

There may be no Liberal Democrats, after leader Sir Menzies Campbell vetoed that, but there are likely to be senor figures from the business world, at least, on the frontbench.




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