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He would be a fool not to. Johnson and Reid a future partnership?

What about Hilary Benn?

My favourite Labourt minister, Malcolm, but probably too early for him. A Reid-Johnson-Blears ticket against Brown might be formidable...

John Reid won't be able to resist having a go for the leadership. He's been in top jobs so the only one left he'll want is to be PM.

Hopefully we can constantly raise the West Lothian question as the Home Office brief is littered with areas of responsibility that aren't national.

I think Blair has put Reid at the Home Office because he has a formidable tough guy persona which is badly needed after the recent debacle.

>>>>John Reid won't be able to resist having a go for the leadership. He's been in top jobs so the only one left he'll want is to be PM.<<<<
He's never been Chancellor of the Exhequer, he doesn't stand a chance in running for the leadership - he'll tack his colours to some one else and might have a shot at the Deputy Leadership especially now that the field of those who might run for the Deputy Leadership has narrowed in recent weeks - David Blunkett, Jack Straw and Charles Clarke are now all too discredited to have any prospects of becoming Deputy Leader and even Jack Straw is probably nearing the end of his frontbench career, Charles Clarke and David Blunkett won't return to frontline roles now.

I think Reid could well be the battering ram used by candidates-as-yet-unknown to force a contest. I would tip the ones to watch as Milburn, David Milliband (long shot-possible for next time round) and for an even longer shot - hilary benn.
All that said, last night's results and the panicked reshuffle make a rapid departure by blair all the more likely, and the sooner he goes the better it is for brown.

Reid hasn't stayed long enough in any job to make either a success or a complete hash of it.

I don't think Tony Blair has given this as much thought as Michael Howard did. This is a desperate measure by a desperate Prime Minister. Its just moving the chairs round on the deck of the Titanic. From what I've heard so far its the same old faces in new positions (with the exception of Charles Clarke) there does not seem to be much new blood or up and coming minister given any significant positions. It could be that Jack Straw has been moved from Foreign Sec to Leader of the House - certainly a demotion because he is now seen as closer to the Brown camp although no one would have guessed in a million years that Margaret Beckett would end up in his job. That should certainly stack her air miles and emissions up on the Queen's flight. John Reid is a bit like Ken Clarke was when we were in government - constantly moved around - Jack of all Trades but master of none. Didn't do his leadership chances much good either.

Can only half agree with you on this one, Tim.

It is a Howard reshuffle in that it is focused on the succession, but with the rather cricial difference that it is designed to delay the succession for as long as possible.

Blair has removed/defused the most immediate threats to the stability of his regime e.g. Clarke, Prescott, Armstrong. He has moved a number of steady-as-she-goes types into senior positions (e.g. Reid, Beckett). And as for the promising young turks who might just be able to challenge Brown in a few years time (e.g. Milliband, Benn, Blears) he has made sure they all have Cabinet positions -- but nothing too senior, so as not to bring them into direct rivalry with Brown just yet.

Alan Johnson is in an intermediate category and has an immediate position -- education. Will he emerge as the most likely challenger to Brown?

Of course, it remains overwhelmingly likely that Brown will be PM before the next GE. But, even so, Blair is already hemming him in -- and positioning the assassins should Labour fail to gain a working majority next time or lose outright.

What an operator!

Still think Blair will contrive to hang on by his finger tips until after the 2007 party conferencce, and shove off early 2008. He is a stubborn kinda guy after all!
The Titanic has pretty big decks to move the deck chairs on. Poor old George must be incandescent by now.

Ed Balls is the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

I thought giving Milliband the environment brief was an interesting one. It kind of sets him up against Cameron's green agenda, and as they've often been compared, I hardly think it's coincidental. Though Milliband is awful, and performs poorly in interviews. I don't know why everyone in Labour puts so much hope on him. Though his brother is even worse.

>>>>Ed Balls is the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury<<<<
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, it was being wrongly announced as Financial Secretary to the Treasury on BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday evening.

Has Blair said he will resign from being PM or just party leader?

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