Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

The Cabinet: Who's Who

Nick Brown (l), Peter Mandelson (c) and Ed Miliband are all in the new Cabinet. Pictures: PA

Prime Minister - Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown became prime minister in June 2007 at the age of 56, having been the chancellor throughout Tony Blair's 10 years in power.

Although the two men were inextricably linked after being elected as Labour MPs in the early 1980s, their relationship changed when, in a much commented on, but never explicitly confirmed, deal struck in a London restaurant in 1994 Mr Brown agreed to give Mr Blair a clear run at the Labour leadership in return for a promise that he would step down and hand over power to Mr Brown at a later date.

Despite their public togetherness, especially at election times, there were frequent tensions between the two camps behind closed doors.

Mr Brown's decade as chancellor - the longest in modern times - also witnessed a steady transformation in Mr Brown's image from a studious bachelor to a happy family man with two children.

Chancellor of the Exchequer - Alistair Darling

Alistair Darling, appointed chancellor in June 2007, has long been close politically to Gordon Brown, but rose steadily through the ranks under Tony Blair.

His previous role had been in trade and industry, and before that, he took on the sensitive transport portfolio when Stephen Byers resigned.

He was also responsible for delivering Labour's social security reforms during a spell in charge of the Department of Work and Pensions.

In each of those jobs he has been considered a safe pair of hands - often portrayed as a competent, if rather dull, minister by the media - and has been rewarded each time with promotion.

Secretary of State for Justice - Jack Straw

Regarded in Westminster as a competent and reliable minister and one of the better Commons performers in the Cabinet, Jack Straw became the justice secretary in June 2007.

It was a step back up for Mr Straw, who ran Gordon Brown's Labour leadership campaign, having been demoted from foreign secretary to Leader of the Commons in Tony Blair's post-local elections reshuffle a year earlier.

He had become Foreign Secretary in 2001, but was somewhat overshadowed in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September suicide attacks on the US by Tony Blair's "shuttle diplomacy". He was seen to have grown into the job during the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Mr Straw spent Labour's first term as a tough-talking home secretary, dealing with the Pinochet affair and his party's determination to be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".

Chief Whip - Nick Brown

One of Gordon Brown's closest allies - and often blamed by Blairites for briefing against Tony Blair at the height of the tension between the two camps - Nick Brown returns the to the role of chief whip he filled when Labour was elected in 1997. He was moved to agriculture minister in 1998, reportedly as a "punishment" for cooperating with a biography of Mr Brown by Mirror journalist Paul Routledge. He certainly had a torrid time in the brief, coming in for some very personal attacks by members of the farming community during the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis.

He returned to the back benches but remained close to Gordon Brown, reportedly playing a role in Mr Brown's behind-the-scenes campaign to succeed Mr Blair as PM. In her autobiography, Cherie Blair describes him as a "bit of a political thug".

A consummate political fixer, who before entering politics worked as slogan writer for soap powder giant Proctor and Gamble writing and a legal adviser to the GMB union, Mr Brown is likely to come down hard on any backbench dissenters.

Leader of the House of Commons - Harriet Harman

Harriet Harman is considered one of the great survivors of modern politics, having steadily rebuilt her career since being sacked from Tony Blair's first Cabinet in 1998.

She returned to the government in 2001 as the first female solicitor general and took on greater responsibilities four years later as constitution affairs minister, seeking to tackle issues that included reversing voter apathy.

She narrowly won a six-way battle to be elected Labour's deputy leader in June 2007, at the age of 56. New leader Gordon Brown immediately appointed her as party chair in place of Hazel Blears.

Often portrayed as an ardent Brownite, her deputy leadership campaign made much of the fact that she served as Mr Brown's deputy when Labour were in opposition.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary - Ben Bradshaw

For many years a middle-ranking minister, Ben Bradshaw finally made the jump up in 2009.

A former journalist, he was the BBC's Berlin correspondent when the city's infamous wall came down in 1989.

First elected as MP for Exeter in 1997, he spent four years on the back benches before serving as a minister in the Foreign Office and Department of Health.

He has also been an environment minister and served as deputy leader of the Commons.

Secretary of State for Defence - Bob Ainsworth

A long-serving minister without a particularly strong public profile, Bob Ainsworth was promoted to Cabinet rank, to the surprise of many Westminster observers, in 2009.

The former Coventry City councillor was elected to Parliament in 1992 and became an opposition whip in 1995.

When Labour entered government in 1997, he continued in the whips' office.

After a short stint in John Prescott's Environment, Transport and the Regions in 2001, he moved to the Home Office, where he was responsible for drugs policy.

In 2003, he became deputy chief whip, a job he held until 2007, when he became a defence minister. He became defence secretary after Des Browne resigned.


International Development Secretary - Douglas Alexander

Douglas Alexander moved to the Department for International Development in June 2007 at the age of 39 after a year as transport secretary, a role which he had combined with that of Scottish secretary.

He joined the government after the 2001 general election, when he became minister for e-commerce at the Department of Trade and Industry.

In June 2003 he also took on the role of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and was given the junior role of Europe minister in the 2006 reshuffle.

The Paisley South MP is a professional politician, whose rise in Labour ranks has been relentless, from the moment he started to work as a researcher for Gordon Brown in 1990.

Energy and climate change - Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband has long been a member of Gordon Brown's inner circle of special advisers. He was previously the parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office.

His older brother, David, is also in the Cabinet, as the foreign secretary, making them the first brothers to sit in the Cabinet for nearly 80 years.

At the age of 37, and only two years after becoming an MP, he was drafted into Gordon Brown's first Cabinet in June 2007, with responsibility for the beefed-up Cabinet Office, which co-ordinates policy between departments. He also had the job of writing Labour's next election manifesto.

His latest promotion sees him take charge of a newly created department, taking over energy policy from the business department and climate change from Defra.

Children, Schools and Families - Ed Balls

Gordon Brown's closest political ally, Ed Balls was appointed to the newly created position of schools and children secretary in June 2007 at the age of 40.

As Mr Brown's chief economics adviser, he entered Parliament as MP for Normanton at the 2005 general election.

He won his first ministerial post at the reshuffle in 2006, when he was made economic secretary to the Treasury.

It is the first Cabinet with a married couple, as Mr Balls's wife, Yvette Cooper, is work and pensions secretary.

Cabinet Office - Tessa Jowell

The 2009 reshuffle saw Tessa Jowell, a keen supporter of Tony Blair, return to the cabinet.

She had previously been a member as culture secretary, but was later demoted to Olympics minister - a role which means attendance, but not membership, of cabinet.

Despite her latest promotion, Ms Jowell is also remaining in the Olympics job.

She has been MP for Dulwich and West Norwood since 1992.

A former social worker, Ms Jowell is a long-serving minister, having held employment and health briefs, among others.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary - Hilary Benn

Hilary Benn was moved from international development - a post he had held for five years - in Gordon Brown's new Cabinet in 2008, having enjoyed a rapid rise since being elected to Parliament in a by-election in 1999.

Politics is in Mr Benn's blood. He is the son of Tony Benn, the long-serving former Cabinet minister and icon of the Labour Left, while his grandfather and great-grandfathers were MPs, too.

He is used to answering questions about the influence on his political life of his famous father and describes himself as "a Benn, but not a Bennite", a reference to the fact that, unlike his father, he is a committed Labour moderniser.

Before his development and environment posts, Mr Benn had been a prisons minister. He stood in the Labour deputy leadership contest in June 2007, but finished fourth out the six contenders.

Foreign Secretary - David Miliband

David Miliband was appointed foreign secretary in June 2007, becoming - at 41 -the youngest person to hold the post for 30 years.

He was promoted to the job after establishing his reputation while environment secretary at a time when "green" issues dominated British political debate. His promotion to one of the great offices of state appeared to justify his decision not to stand against Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership, as some diehard Blairites had urged.

An MP since 2001, he became school standards minister a year later before being promoted to Cabinet Office minister and then to communities and local government minister. Previously, he was head of Tony Blair's policy unit.

He is the son of an eminent left-wing academic and brother of another Cabinet member, Ed Miliband.

Secretary of State for Health - Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham was appointed after the mini-reshuffle of June 2009, following the European elections.

He first entered the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury at the age of 37 when Gordon Brown took office in June 2007, moving to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 2008.

His previous posts include junior health and immigration minister. He has also been Parliamentary Private Secretary to former Home Secretary David Blunkett and has worked as a researcher for Tessa Jowell.

The Merseyside-educated Cambridge graduate has spent virtually his entire working life with the Labour Party, aside from a brief spell as parliamentary officer of the NHS Confederation.

Home Secretary - Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson is a former postman whose round famously used to include Dorneywood, which was the grace-and-favour country house in Buckinghamshire used by John Prescott when he was deputy prime minister.

He moved from education to health in June 2007, at the age of 57, having narrowly lost out to Harriet Harman in the election to be Labour's deputy leader.

After that, he was promoted to home secretary in 2009, following Jacqui Smith's resignation.

He had been the first former union leader in four decades to become a Cabinet minister when he was given the post of work and pensions secretary in 2004.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills - Lord Mandelson

The comeback king of British politics, Mr Mandelson was drafted into government for the third time in a surprise move by Gordon Brown.

Credited, with Mr Brown and Tony Blair, as being a co-creator of New Labour, he was made trade secretary after New Labour swept to power, but was forced to quit in 1998 after The Guardian newspaper printed details of a secret loan of £373,000 from his ministerial colleague Geoffrey Robinson.

But in a move that shocked many in Westminster, he was brought back less than a year later by Mr Blair, as Northern Ireland Secretary. He was forced to quit a second time in January 2001 over allegations of misconduct over a passport application for Dome supporters, the Hinduja brothers.

In 2004, he was appointed EU Trade Commissioner where he continued to have a high profile, including differences with the French president.

He was called back into government by Gordon Brown - with whom he was believed to have had a long-running feud - in the October 2008 reshuffle.

The innovation and skills brief was added to Lord Mandelson's portfolio when departmental responsibilities were changed following the June 2009 local elections.

Leader of the Lords - Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Janet Royall was educated at the Royal Forest of Dean Grammar School and Westfield College, University of London, where she gained a BA in Spanish and French in 1977.

She was an adviser to Neil Kinnock in the 1980s and in 2003 became head of the European Commission Office in Wales.

A year later she became Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, in Gloucestershire, in 2004. She became chief whip in the Lords in 2008 and took over from Baroness Ashton as Leader of the House of Lords.

Communities and Local Government Secretary - John Denham

John Denham took over this large and varied government department in 2009.

Previously, he had served as secretary of state for universities, innovation and skills - the bulk of whose responsibilities were absorbed into Lord Mandelson's business department.

An MP since 1992, before 2007 he had most recently built himself a reputation as the influential chairman of the home affairs select committee in Parliament.

Before that he had served as a Home Office minister, but was one of the three ministers to resign rather than back the government policy to go to war in Iraq.

He is a former campaigner for Friends of the Earth and War on Want.

Northern Ireland Secretary - Shaun Woodward

A defector from the Conservative Party who was once said to be the only Labour MP with a butler, Shaun Woodward took on Northern Ireland in the June 2007 reshuffle at the age of 48.

As a Tory, he oversaw PR activities at Conservative Central Office and was a front-bench opposition spokesman under William Hague.

But he was sacked in 1999 for supporting the repeal of Section 28, which prevented the promotion of homosexual lifestyles in schools, and then switched allegiances.

He was appointed under-secretary for Northern Ireland in 2005 and later held the same position at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, with responsibilities for the switchover to digital TV.

Transport Secretary - Lord Adonis

Lord Adonis has long been at, or near, the centre of government, without always holding a frontline job.

He is best known as a former head of Downing Street's policy unit and Tony Blair's education adviser, informing many of the flagship policies under Labour, such as specialist schools and city academies.

Lord, born Andrew, Adonis, was a long-serving education minister who joined the Department for Transport, before promotion to the Cabinet in Gordon Brown's 2009 reshuffle.

Prior to politics, Lord Adonis was an academic and a journalist.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury - Liam Byrne

Having become an MP in a by-election in 2004, Mr Byrne enjoyed a rapid rise within government.

He served as a minister in the Department of Health and Home Office, where he oversaw the immigration brief.

In 2008, Mr Byrne became Cabinet Office minister, attending cabinet meetings.

In the 2009 reshuffle, he replaced Yvette Cooper at the Treasury.

Work and Pensions Secretary - Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper - one half of the Cabinet's first married couple with children schools secretary Ed Balls - became work and pensions secretary in June 2009. Before that she was Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

A Scottish-born former Independent journalist, she became MP for Pontefract and Castleford in 1997 after stints as an economic researcher for Labour leader John Smith and adviser to US President Bill Clinton.

She has three young children and splits her time between the family homes in north London and West Yorkshire.

She had a rough ride in her former role as housing minister, where she had the job of launching the controversial Home Information Packs (HIPs) scheme.

Welsh Secretary - Peter Hain

Peter Hain's comeback to the Cabinet is one of the most remarkable in recent years.

He resigned as Welsh secretary and work and pensions secretary - having held both jobs at once - in January 2008, over the late declaration of donations for his failed 2007 Labour deputy leadership bid.

An MP since 1991, Mr Hain has also served as a minister for trade and in the Foreign Office.

South African-born, before entering politics, he was best known as a prominent anti-apartheid campaigner. He was also prominently involved in the devolution campaign in Wales in the late 1990s.

Scottish Secretary - Jim Murphy

East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy was appointed as the Scottish secretary in 2009, having been Europe minister.

He was elected to parliament in 1997 and he succeeded Des Browne, who also held the job of defence secretary, in the Scottish Office.

Mr Murphy was born in Glasgow and lived in South Africa as a teenager. He is a season ticket holder at Celtic Football Club and captains the parliamentary football team.



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