McCartney to keep job as party chairman

The Labour Party chairman, Ian McCartney, is expected to keep his job in the reshuffle after a personal assurance from Tony Blair.

Mr McCartney held talks last night with the Prime Minister about his future. Friends of Mr McCartney, who is popular with the Labour rank and file and the unions, say he came away from the talks with the "understanding" that he would be staying in his post.

There have been months of speculation that the MP for Makerfield would be replaced before the general election. Alan Milburn is believed to have been sounded out for his job before the summer recess.

But friends of Mr McCartney said the speculation that he would be moved was incorrect, although there are still rumours that Mr Blair has considered "splitting" the position between Mr McCartney and another figure who would take on an enhanced media role.

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