Blair uses reshuffle to put own stamp on Shadow Cabinet: Brown stays as shadow Chancellor - Cook takes foreign affairs - Straw is shadow Home Secretary - Beckett moves to health

TONY BLAIR last night shuffled almost the whole of his top team, providing Labour with new faces in new jobs and setting his own stamp on the Shadow Cabinet.

Among the senior posts, only Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, stayed in place. Robin Cook, who had wanted to stay in an economic portfolio, was moved to shadow Foreign Secretary, with Jack Cunningham swapped back the other way to take Mr Cook's trade and industry post.

Harriet Harman, the shadow Chief Secretary, was promoted to shadow Employment Secretary, the post vacated by John Prescott when he became deputy leader - a job which means she again faces Michael Portillo, who moved from Chief Secretary to Secretary of State for Employment in July's Cabinet reshuffle.

The moves ease a source of friction over economic policy, where Mr Cook's differing economic stance from Mr Brown was compounded by a tense personal relationship between the two. The Brown-Blair grip on economic policy was expected to be tightened further by the appointment of Andrew Smith, the Oxford East MP, who did not even stand for the Shadow Cabinet, as shadow Chief Secretary, leap-frogging up the Treasury team over both Alistair Darling and Nick Brown.

However, Mr Cook will retain an economic voice. Mr Blair's office made it clear that he, Mr Prescott and Mr Brown would work together closely on Europe and the post-Maastricht debates about a single currency, while Mr Cook would join the other two and Mr Blair in a new four-strong economic sub-committee of the Shadow Cabinet.

A further sign of Mr Blair's determination to place the people he wanted in the jobs he wanted them in, came with his treatment of Margaret Beckett, the former deputy leader, who was given the Health portfolio.

After her performance as acting leader and her powerful showing in the Shadow Cabinet elections where she came second to Mr Cook with 170 votes, Mrs Beckett's friends believed she was entitled to a top-rank job - ideally the shadow Home Secretary post Mr Blair vacated on becoming leader.

That, however, went to Jack Straw, the former environment spokesman and Mr Blair's campaign manager for the leadership. Mrs Beckett's supporters were mollified by the high-profile nature of the health job, Mr Blair making it clear he wanted policy developed. Critics of David Blunkett, the former health spokesman, feel he did too little to adapt Labour's policy to the realities of the NHS changes.

Mr Blunkett swaps health for the key Education portfolio where his robust views about standards are expected to reflect those of Mr Blair. Ann Taylor, who was judged to have disappointed at the education job, becomes shadow Leader of the House, taking in addition, the Citizen's Charter portfolio.

Mr Blair has ended Kevin McNamara's seven-year stint as Northern Ireland spokesman from outside the Shadow Cabinet, giving the job to Mo Mowlam, a junior Northern Ireland spokesman between 1988 and 1989. The move is likely to be welcomed by Ulster's Unionist MPs who have long distrusted Mr McNamara's firm advocacy of a united Ireland.

Michael Meacher will gain a higher profile as he moves from Citizen's Charter to Transport, replacing Frank Dobson who moves from Transport to a reunited Local Government and Environment portfolio. Chris Smith moves from the 'green' part of environment to National Heritage, taking a special responsibility for information superhighways.

Joan Lestor was granted her wish to move from children to Overseas Development, while Gavin Strang retains Agriculture, but within the Shadow Cabinet. Donald Dewar (Social Security), George Robertson (Scotland), David Clark (Defence) and Ron Davies (Wales) retain their portfolios.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk