Saturday, March 22, 2008


Recent Developments in Brown's 'Engine Room'

I love those articles which draw aside the veil on the inner centres of power and explain which adviser is in and which out. Patrick Wintour, known to be close to New Labour's inner counsels, provides a good one today. It focuses on public service reform and why Gordon, after flirting with Old Labour(remember that conference speech in 2003: 'Best when we are Labour'?) and rubbishing Blair's policy of embracing private sector dynamism to improve public sector efficiency, delivered a speech in January which might have been written by the smooth one himself.

The answer, it would seem is Jeremy Heywood(pictured) former Blairite adviser and now Brown's head of domestic policy. He it was who canvassed Cabinet opinion on public service reform before Christmas and encountered the consensus that Blair's reforms had to be pursued and not dropped as some feared might happen when Brown took over. Ed Balls and other Brownites had been fiercely opposed to Blair's agenda and the man himself refused even to visit an academy school. But now, it seems all that has changed and the Supreme Leader, as the Eye have dubbed him, has decided to make Blair-Adonisism his very own as he made clear in a recent piece in the FT:

"There can be no backtracking on reform, no go-slow, no reversals and no easy compromises."

And another policy wonk has been appointed to Brown's inner circle named David Muir(can't find a picture), drawn in, as so many are, from the world of advertising, though having been to university with John Smith's daughter and a long-time Labour supporter. As Director of Strategy it is hoped Muir

could be the man to polish Labour's policies and help bridge the growing gap in the polls.

From being reliant on a fairly constant clique of which he was the 'clan leader', Gordon Brown has rung a lot of recent changes since the limited advice on which he initially called caused so many disasters. The next few months will show whether his new appointments-especially former Ofcom chief Stephen Carter- will bear real political fruit.

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