Smith is rewarded for New Deal work

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Indy Politics

A BRIGHT and able Employment Minister, Andrew Smith, won the admiration of Downing Street for his determined stewardship of the Government's New Deal programme.

A BRIGHT and able Employment Minister, Andrew Smith, won the admiration of Downing Street for his determined stewardship of the Government's New Deal programme.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has been impressed by the 48-year-old MP's grasp of one of the most complex briefs after social security.

The former sociology tutorwon his Oxford East seat in the 1987 election, defeating Steven Norris, the former Transport Minister. Mr Smith was just 36.

He had spent 10 years cultivating support in the seat since graduating from the city's university, joining the Labour Party at the age of 22, becoming a councillor at 25, and being selected as the candidate for the seat at 31.

Having been Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury between 1994 and 1996, Mr Smith is more than familiar with his new brief.

Successful hits on the Major government's economic policies led to his promotion to Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.

It was in this position that he made his now famous attack on Conservative plans to privatise air traffic services. As Labour now wants to inject private funds into the service, his party conference pledge that "Britain's air is not for sale" has haunted him ever since.

Famed for being a reformed smoker, Mr Smith is the Government's most avid user of Nicorette chewing gum.

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