Mr Blair may have won, but is he celebrating his reduced majority?
Probably nothing better demonstrates the changed nature of Tony Blair's
premiership than his reshuffle.
He may have displayed his customary loyalty to fallen friends by bringing
David Blunkett back into government with a prominent job.
But there was none of the axe wielding that had been widely predicted before
The big jobs - chancellor, foreign and home secretaries - remain unchanged.
However, Mr Blair - apparently in consultation with Mr Brown - still had
room to revamp Whitehall departments and focus his reshuffle on the big
issues he wants to address in his third term.
Near the top of that agenda is tackling the looming pensions crisis and that
job has been given to a delighted David Blunkett who, like Peter Mandelson
before him, has been deemed to have paid the price for his errors.
The crucial job as Europe minister has been given to rising Brownite
With Britain about to take over the presidency of the EU and the possible
referendum on the constitution on the horizon, this is a vital portfolio.
Mr Blair relied hugely on Mr Brown during the election - some are
already claiming the chancellor won it for the prime minister
Other big jobs have been given to Alan Johnson - tasked with the controversial energy review in a revamped department of trade and industry - and David Milliband in charge of a new brief of communities and local
The wide reshuffle saw some key Brown allies promoted and the now near
traditional new job for John Reid - this time to the one he really wanted
all along, as defence secretary.
Much criticised Geoff Hoon has vacated the ministry of defence to become
leader of the Commons.
Many had expected him to be dropped, but Mr Blair has
never been good at that.
Before the election there had been extravagant suggestions that a
strengthened prime minister would finally act to sack or move his leadership
rival, Chancellor Gordon Brown.
In fact, Mr Blair relied hugely on Mr Brown during the election - some are
already claiming the chancellor won it for the prime minister.
And with speculation now rife that Mr Brown will take over the reins of power sooner rather than later, the prime minister had no option but to keep
Mr Blunkett's style has previously angered many on his own
side for being populist, illiberal and even right wing
His massively reduced majority also meant his hands were tied in other areas
as he needs to display a more inclusive attitude towards his parliamentary
That is an attitude he has already underlined with talk of "I, we,
the government" in place of the old "I".
He certainly cannot afford to upset colleagues and is already likely to be
forced to abandon some of his more radical plans for his third term for fear
he will no longer be able to bulldoze them through the Commons.
As it is, Mr Blunkett's return will be controversial with some in the Labour
They claim it shows that, despite his words on re-entering Downing Street,
the prime minister has not listened and not learned.
There is still anger in some quarters at the way Mr Blair praised Mr
Blunkett, and promised to bring him back as soon as he could on the day the
former home secretary was forced to resign over the nanny's visa row and his
misuse of parliamentary allowances.
And, of course, Mr Blunkett's style has previously angered many on his own
side for being populist, illiberal and even right wing.
Others, however, believe Mr Blunkett has served his time, remained loyal to
the government and deserves a break.
They believe his greatest sin was one of purely human dimensions - falling
in love - and that he has already been battered by the fight to win access
to the child he had with the married woman, Kimberly Quinn, at the centre of
They also claim he is one of the few Labour frontbenchers who had the
popular touch and was liked by voters.
Finally, Tony Blair needs friends like Mr Blunkett around him more than ever
now his authority has been weakened by the election result.
It may seem odd to suggest a prime minister with a majority of almost 70
could be weak - but for this prime minister, who is used to getting his own
way, backed by huge majorities, that is exactly where he stands.
Despite that, he has managed a surprisingly wide-scale reshuffle, although
it is probably a far less political one than may have been the case had he
won a bigger majority.
This one seems designed to get specific jobs done.